Brew Tour 2008: An Introduction

March 11, 2009 by Nate  
Filed under Brew Tour, Featured, News

btour_storyThere is a fascination with the open road. Freedom maybe, adventure, the unexpected. Something about rolling on down the seemingly endless blacktop, white lines racing by. The past, once so close at hand, now dissipating behind you; a procession of the eternal present. Somewhere, there’s a destination waiting, unseen and untasted. But afterall, it’s in the journey, isn’t it?

And somewhere along that road there is a brewery. In some town, in some city, there are beers one can only taste by making that journey. The road and beer; true Americana. Oftentimes quite the perilous and dysfunctional relationship. But, if done right, oh, what a marvelous combination. This was our intention. That was our plan.

Our trip was not to be some rambling odyssey through the vast stretches of the American plains and valleys and mountains like some Kerouacian novel. Ours was not to be a kind of highway-bound expedition in search of ourselves, or freedom, or truth, or the American Dream (although they would turn up in some of the most unlikeliest of places along the way). No, this trip was to be a pilgrimage and a celebration of the resurgence of an American tradition, born of the traditions of Her forefathers; from the great melting pot to the brew kettle.

We were hitting the road for a spring break trip, forgoing the conventional sunny beaches and snowy mountain slopes for a six-day, six-state, 3,500-mile mission to seek out some of the best craft beers the South and Midwest has to offer. And find them we did. Four guys in a rented Chevy Cobalt with three working doors, looking only to their road map and the vast horizon before them. Living from one brewery to the next, one KOA Kampsite at a time.

So here it is; day by day, brewery by brewery. The Great Brew Tour 2008.

New Belgium Tasting at Barley’s RECAP

March 2, 2009 by Dane  
Filed under Beer, News

fattire_storyNew Belgium has great beer. Their flagship beer, Fat Tire, is a solid, balanced beer. One of the best things about the brewery is they take chances, like their Lips of Faith line of specialty brews. At their size and popularity it would be easy for them to just push out their regular beers and be content, but they don’t. Plus, their commercials feature the music of Devendra Banhart. New Belgium is a great success story and a truly bright spot for American beer makers and the brewing industry.

Now that I have said that about the actual brewery, a place we visited on the first beer tour, let’s discuss the tasting at Barley’s. This was actually the first time either Nate or I had been to Barley’s. We drive by the Shawnee location all the time on I-435, but never have been in the area to drink. Barley’s is top notch. Their tap row is not intimidating, but visually and mentally intoxicating. If you engage with it, you will become physically intoxicated as well. So Barley’s has that going for them. I could spend a lot more time on Barley’s and I will, but I was impressed. Very impressed.

The event cost $16 for their non-members (Barley’s calls it the “Mug Club”). The price was reasonable considering they were providing food along with the beer. Based on the opening words from Barley’s manager the turnout was higher than expected. The event was a sellout, I would estimate about 50 people were in attendance.
We sampled five beers. All of them came with a brief story and description of the beer and all the other things that go on during a tasting. I was expecting to taste the whole Lips of Faith line, but unfortunately that was not the case. Maybe I didn’t read the e-mail close enough talking about the tasting or what, but I was stoked to try them all, but we only had two from the line.

The Beer  We Tasted:

  • Fat Tire This was the first beer of the night and it is just a great balanced beer. We kind of got lost on the way, I-435 had a wreck on it so we tried the back roads without knowing the street and town or general area Barley’s was located. Not to knock Fat Tire, but when we finally had some beer, anything would have tasted great.
  • Abbey This was the second beer of the night. The host or “Beer Ranger” as New Belgium calls them, made an interesting comment about this beer. It was what New Belgium wanted as their flagship beer but Fat Tire was the one that won the hearts of the drinkers. Oh, it also didn’t help this beer is their lowest selling. However, it is their most decorated beer in terms of awards.
  • La Folie (A Lips of Faith Beer) Wow. This beer took me completely off guard. It is a Belgium sour and a complex beer that tastes closer to champagne than Fat Tire. There really is a lot going on here, unfortunately after the initial shock of this beer wore off, I had finished it. So I’m not comfortable talking too much about it. What I can say is this is an interesting beer. Everyone should try it just to try it. Barley’s paired it with the dish Melissa Newell, Owner of Terroir Restaurant, recommended on New Belgium’s site. It worked perfectly with it.
  • Mighty Arrow Pale Ale This is New Belgium’s first Pale Ale, according to the Beer Ranger. The Mighty Arrow did not disappoint. For a Pale Ale it has a good balance between the malts and the hops.
  • Dunkelweiss 30° (Lips of Faith) Another interesting beer in regards to the flavor. This isn’t a beer to just drink by itself, it needs to have food with it, preferably dessert. And that idea alone—drinking beer with dessert—opens a whole new area of beer enjoyment. It is a place where these fruity, full bodied beers can be enjoyed, even if you are not a fan of them.