Summer is for cold beer — cold beer in sweaty cans, gripped in koozies. So I called Matt Gardner, general manager at Kansas City's Flying Saucer, and asked him to take me beer shopping for a Fourth of July backyard barbecue.
My only request: Keep it craft. Forgo the Bud and the Miller and the Coors Light Summer Brew.
That's no special challenge for Gardner, who has managed a list of more than 240 beers, reflecting some 100 brewing styles, since the KC Flying Saucer opened, in May 2008. He's a hometown guy, growing up in Topeka before attending college at Baylor, and he hooked on at the Houston Flying Saucer before transferring to Charlotte, North Carolina, for three years and finally returning home.
Gardner meets me on a hot Thursday morning at the Prairie Village Rimann Liquors. He hops out of his car and picks up a baby carrier from his backseat. His 3-month-old daughter, Elena, is sleeping. The three of us head into the store.
This time of year, Gardner says, he respects the can. "It makes sense to me," he tells me. "They leave a smaller footprint, and they're easy to dispose of. You don't have to worry about broken bottles."
As we browse the store, Gardner's first tip is to go for variety: "I want to get two to three different styles."