Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kansas City is not a top-five beer city

Posted By on Thu, May 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Is KC really a beer lovers paradise?
  • Flickr: Jenni C
  • Is KC really a beer lover's paradise?
The challenge when one is aspiring toward greatness is being recognized too early. The danger is that you feel like you've arrived before you've actually done the work to reach your destination. So, while it's nice that Travel + Leisure has proclaimed Kansas City the fifth best beer city in the nation, it's certainly not warranted.

There's Portland, Oregon, with its army of microbreweries. The number of breweries that co-exist there make it the logical choice for best beer city in the nation. On this, Travel + Leisure and I agree. After that, there should be quite a few cities ahead of my hometown. For what it's worth, I'm not the only one who thinks so, CNN posted its own rankings this month of the top eight beer cities, and KC didn't sniff the list.

Kansas City has made great strides when it comes to what's on tap, what's on shelves and who's choosing to distribute here. But there's a bevy of California cities with a historical and thriving beer culture, San Francisco and San Diego likely chief among them. Denver hosts Great American Beer Week, Boston drinks Sam Adams and Harpoon like the rest of the nation drinks milk and water. And Kansas City is likely not even the top craft-beer city in the state; I'd put it behind St. Louis just based on how beer is elevated down Interstate 70. After that, Kansas City is one of any number of contending beer cities to round out the top 10 (Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Nashville, among them).

You've got Boulevard as the anchor in the mall, and this Sunday, the first tap room in the city opened at Big Rip Brewing Co. Green Room Burgers & Beer is on its 10th iteration of making its own brews, and there are several additional microbreweries in various stages of development. The Foundry, McCoy's, Gordon Biersch and 75th Street all brew their own, and if you throw Free State and the Lawrence contingent in the mix, well now we've got a debate.

The number of taps in beer has exploded, evolving from the Riot Room and Swagger to Bier Station, a package store and bar in one destination. And paired beer dinners are more commonplace than novelty. The track has been laid; we just haven't yet derailed the Coors Light Beer Train. Kansas City is not a top-five beer city today, but I have no doubt it's on its way.

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