It’s been a while since I put together a Brewery Travels article. Thanks to my final semester of graduate school and raising my now one year old, life has been fairly hectic. But I now have a little more down time and am thrilled to go back and highlight some of my stops this past summer! First up is the Kansas City area. Obviously, one name in particular sticks out, as a brewery here has been churning out beers to send across the country for quite some time. But along with basically everywhere else, they have experienced a brewery boom in recent years. My time in the metro area was limited to essentially driving through, but I was able to pop into two breweries along our route in the suburb of Shawnee, KS along with my visit to Boulevard. Because I was only able to hit up three spots in KC, I’m adding in one from Columbia, which is east following I-70.
- Boulevard Brewing; Kansas City, MO
- Servaes Brewing; Shawnee, KS
- Transport Brewing; Shawnee, KS
- Logboat Brewing; Columbia, MO
If you know craft beer, you are familiar with Boulevard. Brewing since 1989, Boulevard has become a staple that can be found all around the country. They now have a campus of buildings just south of downtown which they had expanded to in 2006. The beer hall is a multi-leveled experience. Walking in, you are greeted by a small beer museum that highlights the history of beer, as well as information about Boulevard. A large gift shop is also on the lower level, meaning you can accomplish quite a bit before even heading upstairs. But of course you need beer. And the beer hall itself features a large bar, plenty of seating, and deck with gorgeous views of the Kansas City skyline. When I visited, they were hosting a bingo event that appeared to be very popular.
Because they have set flights during busier hours, I was somewhat limited in what I tried. But I did enjoy what I sampled! My favorite was Flora Obsura, a Dry Hopped Porter that features a concoction of five hop varieties. Those hops provide subtle tropic/citrus notes, but the overall body is a robust chocolate and espresso combination. Hibiscus Gose of course spoke to me thanks to my passion for sours, as this bright and tart beer had just the right amount of hibiscus (as in you received it on all your senses but it did not overpower). Bob’s 47 Oktoberfest was splendid. Medium-bodied with a malt profile that seemed to lean slightly sweeter and bready. Space Camper Cosmic IPA was a great option, as it provided a full-flavored IPA with a slightly smaller profile. With a nose that highlights pineapple, mango, and a soft zestiness, the taste follows the same pattern, with a little more citrus and a touch of pine.
I would certainly highlight stopping here if you are in the area. Some may consider it to be a bit “touristy”, especially due to its size and popularity, but the beer and city views, along with the history, means any craft fan should add it to their itinerary.
First of all, the name is pronounced “service”. And it’s not just the name of the brewery, it the last name of the owner/brewer (she first began brewing back in 2012 by the way). Opened this past April along the main downtown strip of Shawnee, I thoroughly enjoyed this colorful taproom. Blue, orange, and yellow are splashed around the interior in different manners. Aside from the color scheme, it’s a simple, unassuming space that feels incredibly inviting for anyone who enters. As you look at their logo, I’d like to point out how it appears to be “fluid”. Or more accurately, they would like to point that out. On their website, they state that when they were coming up with a design for the brewery, they wanted to have the sense of fluidity.
I have to admit, my bias to sours was met here. One of their specialties is sours, and three of the four in my flight fit this category. They also do not have flagships, as the brewer prefers to try new things and constantly have something new to offer. The beers I sampled were delightfully bold. Just to Live: Raspberry Tart was a Fruited Sour that let the berry do the talking (I loved this one). Another great option was Like Butterflies: Shark Attack, a Sour Witbier with blue raspberry, cherry, and orange that to me almost tasted like a handful of Skittles. The most interesting sour here was Dream in Color, a Coffee Berry Berliner Weisse that featured blueberries and raspberries. I felt the coffee was a little more prevalent and the sour factor was not quite a present as I would have liked. The final beer was a simple Session NEIPA called This May Grow that had a balanced, citrusy body.
Many of their beers may not be for the faint of heart (on tap they currently have a NEIPA based on a Pecan Pie and three variations of an Imperial Stout), but it’s a fun spot that will test your palate. The people there were also incredibly welcoming and wonderful to talk to!
Just down the street from Servaes is another newer brewery that opened in a former law office. The taproom is divided into two sections: the larger room with the general bar area, and a smaller section with more seating that features a large mural of the former Kansas Territory. This second area was formally an alley before being converted to an interior space. The name comes from two things. First, the main drag they are located on, Johnson Drive, was part of both the Oregon and Sante Fe trails (which served as transportation hubs). They also discovered a hidden basement during renovations that is believed to have been linked to prohibition and the transportation of alcohol. And as a dog owner, I always try to point out when a brewery allows you to bring in your furry friend (I was greeted by a friendly pup when I walked in the door)!
When I visited, I was told them aim to do at least one new release every Thursday. A large chalkboard not only highlights events and prices, but also lists what beers are currently being brewed. Of the ones I had, the Broken Rail Brown Ale was my favorite. A strong malty base with a toasted nuttiness gave this beer its flavor. The other two I would recommend were Wheat Til Your Dad Gets Home and California Road West Coast IPA. The Wheat Ale was nothing fancy, but just a straight-forward choice with soft notes of clove (which went down well with the hot weather). I appreciated the balance the IPA struck. It definitely leaned more bitter thanks to the Simcoe, Amarillo, and Cascade hops, but there was enough of a softer citrus to reign it in. An interesting option was Car Hop, a Cherry Lime Berliner Weisse. I left this beer wanting more cherry, as the lime seemed to seize control and wouldn’t relinquish your attention. It also wasn’t as tart as I prefer, although that means someone just getting into sours may find it appealing.
Transport Brewing won the 2019 Downtown Impact Award from the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce. They seem set on becoming a focal point of the community, and I hope both they and Servaes experience success and bring more beer lovers to their city! Both spots had friendly staff that were more than happy to answer my questions!
Located in North Central Columbia, this place has a very “outdoorsy” feel to it. First off, they have a massive front lawn (dubbed ‘The Park’) with plenty of picnic tables, bocce balls, and cornhole boards. Walking inside, weathered wood beams and tables, along with a plethora of hanging plants welcome the visitors. The wooden tables and bar specifically were sourced from an old 19th century Kansas City schoolhouse. Visible behind the bar is the brewhouse, and above those windows many medals are framed for patrons to gaze at while sipping on a beer. There is also a bonus second level that looks down at the bar area, and it is utilized as an event space.
The big winner in my opinion was Lookout Pale Ale. Cascade and Falconers Flight hops swirl together to produce an array of citrus and (more specifically) grapefruit notes. This is a beer that feels like it can be drank in any situation. Even more easy-going than Lookout is Bobber Lager. As expected, it was a light, crisp, and lively beer, although it did seem to be slightly more heavy on the malts (which was too my liking). Dark Matter Porter was an intriguing option. While one is not surprised by chocolate being at the forefront of the nose and tongue, it seemed to shift from bitter to sweet as it rolled across your palate. But the most interesting was Raspberry Shiphead, a Raspberry Ginger Wheat. This one was fine, but I was surprised that I did not enjoy it more. The ginger was a touch too strong for my preference.
While this may have simply been a pit stop during our trek across the state the St. Louis, I enjoyed the overall experience at Logboat. Columbia is a college town, and I have to imagine this is (or at least should be) a trendy spot!
I enjoyed all four of these stops not just for the beers, but also the stories and taproom experiences they all offered. Obviously, Kansas City has much more to offer to craft beer fanatics, so hopefully I can return and provide a more thorough report sometime in the future.
St. Louis, most well known for its famous arch, has risen in the ranks of many “Top Beer City” lists. And for good reason. The area is chock full of awesome breweries! From older, more established names, to fresh and exciting newbies, you are certain to find plenty of options to suit you. In fact, I had a tough time narrowing down which breweries I would write about since I enjoyed different aspects from each of my visits!
Current Brewery Count
550 breweries across 238 cities in 40 states plus D.C.. These numbers are current as of 2/15/19. For an up-to-date count, and to follow where I go, check out my social media accounts!