The first stop on my craft beer odyssey was Kansas City. Known for music, amazing barbeque and fountains, Kansas City is a very vibrant town. Most people know about Boulevard, which has been a craft beer mainstay since the late 80’s. There are several new craft beer companies that have began to dot the map in the recent years and I was excited to see what they had to offer.
I left the Twin Cities in the morning and I had a 3:00 appointment at Big Rip Brewing Co. The drive was fairly uneventful aside from half of Iowa’s highway being under construction. My goal of stopping for lunch at el Bait Shop in Des Moines was out the window as the construction was ruining any chance of making good time. However, I had several scintillating episodes of ESPN’s Fantasy Baseball podcast to listen to, so the time really flew by. The drive down 35 is not bad as far as scenery is concerned. The green trees, rolling hills and occasional soaring bird of prey made for a picturesque trip.
I got into Kansas City just in time to run into more construction. To make matters worse, the temperature dial continued to tick up from 84 degrees to 101. Now, not only was I hot, I was running a little behind. I found the brewery after a few wrong turns and it is located in an industrial part of North Kansas City on the Missouri River. The brewery is located in a red brick building and hop vines enclose the parking area. The taproom is cozy and they had 10 beers on tap, ranging from a Cream Ale to an Imperial Milk Stout on Nitro. One of the owners, Josh Collins, was gracious enough to take time out of his day to spend some time with me and show me around. He explained to me that taprooms are a somewhat new concept in KC as opposed to brewpubs, which have been around for a long time. Big Rip Brewing Co. is a small operation, brewing on a 4 barrel system. They rotate beers frequently and their portfolio consists of about 30 different beers. Since the demand is so high, their beers are available in the taproom only. They have bottled their anniversary beers, but they do not last long. This brewery reminds me of hanging out in your friend’s basement in the 80s. They have a video game room that is complete with Pinball machines, a shooter game and a racing game. There are nice big TVs in the main taproom area and the vibe is extremely laid back. The beers are good and they were pretty busy at 3:30 on a Wednesday. My favorite beers were their Hathor’s Sweet Brown, Days of Night Black Lager and the Aisle 12 West Coast IPA. The Raspberry Gluten Free beer was something that wasn’t in my wheelhouse, but good that they have a gluten free option.
Next, it was on to check in to my hotel and dinner at the famous Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s). If you are in Kansas City, you have to have barbeque. I don’t care what you say, nothing in MN even comes close to being in the same stratosphere as what they have in KC. Joe’s, Gates and Char Bar were the places that I went and each one was impressive. Joe’s is the best in my opinion, but I would invite you to go down there and conduct your own action research. At Joe’s I had to have ribs. At Char Bar, I had a combination of ribs, burnt ends and beef brisket. At Gates, I went all in on burnt ends.
This is only the first part of my Kansas City trip for craft beer, so stay tuned for part 2 which highlights Boulevard Brewing Co. and Cinder Block Brewing Co.! Prost!