Thursday, May 5, 2011

Eighth Annual Parkville Brewers' Festival

Well, it had been a long time for me, but finally, I was able to make it to the Parkville Microbrew Festival after about a six year absence. And not that I didn’t want to go to it the past few years, but for whatever reason, something was going on which wouldn’t allow me to go. Luckily, this year on April 30th, I didn’t have a wedding to attend, a Wizards game to work, a Chiefs minicamp to run messages at, or wasn’t out of town in Hawaii. Okay, I’d rather have been in Hawaii, but I digress. The weather was perfect, and eight Kansas breweries were in attendance, which really excited me since I could see some of my old brewery friends who I used to cover in Southwest Brewing News. Timmy picked me up a little after noon, and we headed up I-635 towards Parkville for what turned out to be a great day.

First of all, the festival was packed. I don’t know what the numbers were, but I would imagine there were well over a thousand people in attendance, not including kids in strollers or Baby Bjorns and dogs, which there were a lot. We got there before it opened, and saw Andy and his family as we were walking in. He told us the Rob was coming, which was great since I hadn’t seen him since Beer Trip 6.5. I bought my ticket ahead of time, online, so while they waited in their line, I walked around the tents a bit before they started letting people in to try to talk to some of the brewer friends I know. Most of them were really busy setting up, but I was lucky enough to get to chat with Gerald and Janet from Liquid Bread in Hays for a few minutes. I also said hi quickly to Randyl of McCoy’s/Beer Kitchen/The Foundry before I headed back to line to get in.

The event was really great. One of the best things was running into a lot of friends who were there. My friend Chris, who was pouring beer for Buffalo Brewing Company out of St. Louis, was there and recommended the Gordon Biersch Unfiltered Czech Pils, which was solid. I also got to hang out with Pete, a friend who I work with at the Stadium, and got to meet his wife, who couldn’t have been cooler. Later on in the day, I bumped into another friend, Eugene, who came in from Lawrence with his girlfriend and told me to try the Upstream Grand Cru (which was gone by the time I got there).

As for the beer part of the festival, the first place I went to was the River City Brewing Company tent where their head brewer Dan brought up four of his bigger beers for the event. I will admit that I am probably biased because I like the guy, but all four of his beers were terrific. And despite the fact that I don’t really care for the name, his “The Situation” beer was one of the top five beers I had at the festival. I got to chat with him for bit, which was nice since I hadn’t really talked to him since SWBN dropped Kansas last year. I could tell that things were going really well with him and the brewery. I really need to make it back there.

Another past Beer Trip favorite is Nebraska Brewing Company, and it was great seeing Paul and Kim there. They treated us really well on Beer Trip VI, and even though they were one of the more in demand tents at the festival (the cheesecake and Fathead Barleywine pairing probably had a little to do with it), they talked to us for a bit and even told us to make it back there around 3:15, which Tim, Andy, Rob, Pete, Kendra, and I did. There, he opened up a bottle of their Apricot au Poivre Saison, which we got to finally try. We had really wanted to try this one, maybe more than any other beer at the festival since Tim went up there to help them bottle in last year, and it was probably the best beer I had at the festival.

I got to see and talk to a few of my other brewery friends at the festival, but some for a really short amount of time. My friend Nathan, who now works for Tallgrass Brewing Company, gave me a sample of a variation of my favorite Tallgrass beer, Oasis, that was interesting, and really good if you like maple flavors. Kris from Little Apple had a terrific barleywine, and his beers are better every time I have them. I didn’t get to talk much with Jeremy of Boulevard, but he did pour two great experimental beers, the first being Love Potion #2, which was an amazing sour beer (which I’m usually not a huge fan of). The second was a version of their Tripel with brett yeast, which was also outstanding. I dug those two beers a lot. I said hi briefly to Adam from New Belgium, Gary of Schlafly, and RD from High Noon, but they were all really busy to say more than “Hey” before pouring more beer.

Finally, at the end of the event, most of the crowd had left and many of the brewers were packing up after running out of beer, I got to talk to Bucky from 23rd Street Brewery in Lawrence. He seemed genuinely happy to see me, and he talked to me for a good five minutes while pouring me some of their IPA, which I really like. As it reached 5PM (the end of the festival), Paul from Nebraska came over to Tim and me and just talked to us for a few minutes more about beer and Beer Trip. He’s a really great guy, and even gave us a parting gift.

I know this turned into a bit of a love letter about the event, so sorry about that. But really, it was a great time. Part of the thing about Beer Trip is how we get to meet all the great beer people, and there were a lot of great beer people at the festival.

So to close this, I have one request of my friends: if any of you are getting married next year, can you plan it so that it isn’t towards the end of April please? I would appreciate it. I already have other plans.


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