Night Ranger goes north and encounters a motley brew.

Brew Ha Ha 

Night Ranger goes north and encounters a motley brew.

Kansas City needs more outdoor festivals. Sure, we get art fairs galore, but we're thinking less artsy and more fartsy, with blocks of food booths, live music and, of course, a plethora o' alcohol. Which is why we were pretty excited when we heard about the Best of the Midwest Brewers Festival in Parkville, a hub of quaintosity north of the river. Because of that, we kind of forgot that (a) beerfests tend to draw quite a weird crowd and (b) a beerfest up north attracts an especially über-odd group.

We ventured to KC's version of Star's Hollow (like, hello, don't you watch Gilmore Girls? Um ... neither do we) on May 22 with Research Assistant John. It was a humid, overcast day, and the thought of drinking "under the shade of the magnificent cottonwoods" by the banks of the Missouri River -- as promised in the press release -- was highly alluring, especially for the admission fee of $10. Sadly, we soon discovered that instead of being held in the lovely park with the kick-ass trail, the festival was in a gravel-covered parking lot next to a minibluff. Worse, there was no river nearby. We saw two kids sitting on the ground, throwing rocks at a larger rock, a scene so Huck Finn-gone-wrong that it was tragic.

The beerfest itself was as uninspiring as the scenery. "This is underwhelming," John said. Nine brewers (most of them local, except Flat Branch from Columbia and Blind Tiger from Topeka) set up on one side, a larger tent was in the middle with bluegrass bands, and KCFX 101 had set up shop by the food booth on the other side. The effect was a bit claustrophobic, thus increasing the number of people next to one another and the temperature and humidity levels, which we countered by commencing to drink.

Because we were already familiar with the selections from Boulevard and McCoy's from our nighttime forays, we went for something slightly different and filled our souvenir sample glasses with Derailed Red Ale from the Power Plant Brewery. However, the beer choices from all the brewers didn't vary much from the standards; pale ales, stouts and wheats were everywhere. "I'm disappointed everyone brought IPA," John said. "I would have guessed that there would be something more exotic." Then we noticed that two brewers were offering green-chili beer. We sampled Flat Branch's version; the pale, amber liquid, which was spiced with Anaheim and serrano peppers, had just a hint of heat and was surprisingly tasty. "I didn't expect it to, but it works," John said. "Right now, I think this is my favorite shit yet."

The NR found her favorite shit when she spotted an anomaly -- margaritas! Or, rather, Margarita Ice (a fizzy, bottled version), poured by two blond chickies clad in tight, black-leather, midriff-bearing peasant shirts that laced up the front; denim ruffled miniskirts; and heels. We weren't sure if the longest lines at the festival formed at that booth because of the scantily clad chicks or because of their slow pouring technique. ("Pick it up, Anna Nicole!" called out the guy behind us in line.) We'd venture to guess it was a little from Column A, a little from Column B. We eventually made it to the front and got the strawberry drink, which tasted like Pop Rocks.

That's where we met David, who was hovering in front of the marg booth with his friends. He had unsuccessfully tried to get one of the chickies to sign his chest. "I told her, 'I worked hard on this physique,'" he said as he pulled up his shirt for us, revealing a pale, noodley torso with a bit of a belly. "She said, 'Your physique is too much for me.'" High on a fauxgarita buzz, we prodded him to try again. This time, success. David proudly strutted around sans shirt until a cop told him to put it on or else get a ticket for indecent exposure.

We decided that we just wanted to follow the likable David around for a night; he and his friends -- who looked like they were 12 -- were constantly embroiled in antics. They confronted a burly, heavyset, fortysomething guy in an NYPD shirt, his mouth stained with red drink, who was standing behind the Margarita Ice chicks trying to take pictures up their skirts. Pervy McPerverson tried to offer the chicks cash to hold still, but they refused, so he was hovering and salivating.

We later encountered David on the rooftop deck of the Power Plant Brewery. He and a friend were leaning over the railing, yelling at someone for tying up their dogs so close to railroad tracks. As we left the scene, we heard a waitress plead with David, "Please put your shirt on. It's upsetting people."

Ah, half-naked men, beer and outdoor drinking -- that's getting the summer started off right.

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