[EDIT: Okay, my curiousity is killing me – why is the Number One driver of hits to my site the picture of the Kansas City skyline to the right? What are all you people looking for? Please let me know in the comments section below.]
… never quite happened. Or at least, it was less than what I hoped for.
Faithful readers will remember that back in April, I stumbled across (via the Internet) a nice young lady in Kansas City who is doing pretty much the same thing I'm doing; she calls herself A Beer Kind of Girl (or just "Beergirl" for short). Beergirl told me to drop her a line if ever I was in her neighborhood – so of course, I did, since M'Lady is from KC and we're there every six months or so like clockwork to visit the family.
Unfortunately, tentative plans to meet up somewhere – hopefully to have her expose me to a great KC beer bar – never materialized. A new job smacked her with a menacing deadline, killing the first few days. Then she got deathly ill. That killed the next few. Now I was faced with a dilemma: On a brief business visit to Austin in May, she raved over how much she loved Shiner Bock, so I decided to take her a gift 12-pack of Texas beers. And I needed to get that beer to her, because I needed the space in my car to take home my usual case of Boulevard (an excellent Kansas City beer not available in Texas; see my many previous posts). So finally, a last-ditch effort — M'Lady and I scheduled a tour of the newly expanded Boulevard Brewery, maybe she could come with us? She would be off work early that day, so it seemed like we might finally get to lift one together … but no. Those meanies at Boulevard said the tour was full and no way would they let one more person in. If their beer weren't so good, I'd hold a grudge. Thus fizzled out a great meeting of the minds and livers.
However, she met M'Lady and I in the Boulevard parking lot right before the tour, hinicetomeetyouhereissomeTexasbeer. I handed over three each of Saint Arnold Pils, Saint Arnold Elissa IPA, Shiner 98, and Shiner Kolsch, which hopefully should whet her appetite for another Austin trip. (Austin is a great place for a vacation, HINT, HINT. With all the Shiner, Saint Arnold, Live Oak, and Real Ale you can drink!)
Beergirl is lucky she gets to take that tour any time she wants – it was awesome. After roaming through the production facility we of course went to the much-anticipated drinking room for about 20 minutes of sampling. I would have been happy enough having my favorite regulars, their Pale Ale and Bully Porter, but they also had their new Lunar Ale, as well as sneak previews of stuff not on the shelves yet.
I was a little disappointed in the Lunar. I expected a bold Belgian flavor; instead, it was a strange mix of styles, sort of like a German dunkleweisen mixed with a Belgian dubbel, that ended up being less than the sum of its parts. Decent enough, but not overly impressive.
Much better were two others: A Belgian saisson farmhouse ale due for release in the fall. Golden in color, with a crisp, flowery taste. I'm looking forward to a full bottle; hopefully the mother-in-law can score one for me. After that, I tried an IPA, and oh it was glorious! The bartender told me it "a slightly different version" of it would eventually become a regular part of their year-round lineup. I can't imagine why they would want to change a thing from what they served me – unless they've figured out a way to make it even better. This makes me look forward to my KC trips even more.
I grabbed some other beers while I was in KC, as well. Beergirl had raved about a Saint Louis brand called Schlafly. I tried their Pale Ale, which was about as mediocre as a pale ale could be – seriously, they should be embarrassed to put this on the same shelves as Boulevard's version. However, I also grabbed a 750ml bottle of their 2006 Imperial Stout, which was marvelous. It was aged in oak barrels, and it was mighty strong, both in ABV and flavor. Well done, and I hope they'll make more this winter for my holiday trip.
I tried another St. Louis brew from a brewery called Lemp, which apparently has a very long history and was recently resurrected. I tried their Jurassic Dark, a "roasted German Style Wheat Ale" that was quite tasty.
As for watering holes, I never got to actually sample one with Beergirl, but M'Lady and I did follow her advice to try Grinders, a cool downtown food and brew dive/concert venue with tasty wings and an impressive beer selection. It reminded me a lot of The Parlor, a funky punk pizza place here in Austin. Margaret immediately declared it her favorite place in KC and even left me on kid-watching duty one night so she could take her girlfriends there. I started with a Boulevard Pale just out of a sense of duty, but I then moved on to something that was a Unibroue product, but I'm not sure which one. The menu said Maudite, and I was brought a beverage that was beguilingly black and so utterly glorious in taste that I think my head spun around 360 degrees. So I came home and feverishly bought a bottle, and it poured out … a rich brown. And delicious, but not quite as good as what I had at Grinders. I'm pretty sure they actually served me Trois Pistoles, by the same brewery, which I've had before at Gingerman, and which had the same revelatory effect on me. In any case, the lesson here is that you can't go wrong with Unibroue, no matter what you actually get.
Damn that was a long post. And it was a long trip. I hope it was worth it.