We went to every craft brewery within an hour of Kansas City to make this guide to local craft beer.
As a frontier town, Independence was famous as the hub where the three great overland trails connected. The name of this 9,800 square-foot rustic chic brewpub is an homage to that era. Likewise, it would have made for a nice watering hole for dusty pioneers pushing westward on the Santa Fe, California or Oregon trails. Repurposed barrel staves line the bar within view of the 10-barrel brewhouse. Brew boss Jesse Rose has solid brewing chops, having previously worked for Bell’s in Michigan. Highlights include a kettle-soured burgundy-hued beer with dragonfruit and an American lager with notes of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and tropical fruit. Among the regulars, favorites are the hazy IPA and a Russian imperial stout. Guests can carry in food from neighboring eateries and watch sports on the screens. – PETE DULIN
111 N. Main St., Independence, Mo. 816-886-6256, 3trailsbrewing.com. 4 pm-midnight Monday, Thursday and Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-7 pm Sunday.
Come to this west Lawrence institution for a mac and cheese named after KU coach Bill Self, the Les Miles-approved salad and countless TVs playing everything from baseball to rugby. Stay for the brews, which are all done under 23rd Street’s barn-like dome. For the past 13 years, 23rd Street has been well loved as a sports bar with a great patio. But head brewer Tucker Craig also likes to experiment and makes what he calls a “tree beer” with cedar and Voss Kveik yeast. There’s a slew of new beers coming for the summer months, like a Mexican lager and a strawberry rhubarb sour, as well as this year’s Locals Only India pale lager. A tasting flight of all eight beers runs you just $10. – ERICA HUNZINGER
3512 Clinton Parkway, Lawrence, Kan. 785-856-2337, brew23.com. 11 am-midnight Sunday-Saturday.
Although Alma Mader is one of Kansas City’s newest breweries, it’s immediately obvious that Nick Mader is a seasoned pro. Mader made stops at Boulevard, Denver’s Crooked Stave and Seattle’s Fremont Brewing before opening on the west side. The 10-barrel brewery and minimalist taproom opened in April and is a showcase for Mader’s approachable, hop-forward ales and lager. Pillar, a spot-on, full-bodied German-style pilsner with a pillowy head, validates Mader’s belief that a brewer’s skill level “can’t hide behind a 4.8-percent pils.” Habit Loop New England-style IPA is juicy with melon-berry notes and grapefruit-pine nose. Tamper (Mexican mocha) Coffee Porter with cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa perfectly balances sweetness, spice and roasted flair — it’s one of our 10 favorite beers of the year. – PETE DULIN
2635 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. almamaderbrewing.com. 3-9 pm Wednesday-Thursday, noon-9 pm Friday, 11 am-9 pm Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday.
Amerisports Brew Pub
The giant sports pub inside the Ameristar Casino claims to be “the only classic lager house in or around Kansas City,” and though that’s not true anymore — brewmaster Stacey Payne started making ales when he took over in 2004, and they proved popular — it is one of the most distinctive breweries in town. First, obviously, because it’s tucked inside a large Northland casino. But also because of the handsome copper-hued 30-barrel kettles, visible next to what’s advertised as the largest TV screen in the area. Payne does make some easy-sipping lagers, like the honey-rich Pendergast Pilsner and a bready American wheat lager, his two best sellers. He also does IPAs, a rye ale and a really nice dry-hopped Belgian saison that’s packed with vibrant spice and stone fruit flavors. – MARTIN CIZMAR
3200 Ameristar Drive, Kansas City, Mo. 816-414-7121. 4-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-1 am Friday-Saturday, 11 am-10 pm Sunday.
You may be thrown off by Apex Aleworks’ location in a nondescript strip mall in Independence. Look for Mama Garden Chinese buffet — if you see that, you’re in the right place. Jeremy Parratt has several adjacent storefronts where he operates a homebrew shop, a barbecue supply store and the Apex taproom, which opened in October 2018. In a market increasingly dense with adjunct-heavy pastry stouts and fruited hazies, Apex aims to showcase properly brewed classic styles. The Czech lager is crisp and undeniably good. The kolsch is equally delicious. Try the English dark mild, an old-school pub table beer that weighs in at a sessionable 3.8 percent ABV. Apex offers paninis and popcorn if you’re hungry, but outside food is allowed. Also, ask for a glass of water — Independence is famous for having some of the best water in the country, which Apex showcases with its minimalistic brewing process. – MIKE PLUNKETT
4356 S. Noland Road, Independence, Mo. 816-642-2901, apexaleworks.com. Noon-10 pm Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight am Friday-Saturday.
Atlas Saloon Brewery
Atlas Saloon opened in 1894 as a Schlitz pub in Excelsior Springs. Well, it’s again a one-brewery house, though now it’s making small-batch German-inspired beers named after the city’s once-famed mineral springs. Owners Jim and Cheri McCullough have decorated the spot with breweriana and given it a classic small-town pub feel with a pool table and shuffleboard. Regulars address each other on a first-name basis as they sip Crystal Lithia Kolsch and Maurer’s Munich Helles. In honor of the pub’s Schlitzy past, brewer Keith Hudson produces a crisp lager adapted from an 1860s Schlitz recipe that uses six-row barley. Siloam Irish Stout is a classic dark beer with roasted coffee notes.Take your time with malty sweet McCleary’s Scottish Ale, weighing in at a whopping 10 percent ABV. – PETE DULIN
100 W. Broadway Ave., Excelsior Springs, Mo. 816-630-9229, atlassaloon.com. 3 pm-midnight Tuesday-Friday, noon-midnight Saturday.
Josh Collins and Kipp Feldt opened North Kansas City’s Big Rip in 2013, just as the city’s current craft brewing wave was picking up steam. They’ve grown a lot since, expanding production under head brewer Bri Burrows and improving consistency while also adding more variety. The taproom’s decor, beer names and brewhouse tanks (i.e. Mulder, Krueger) are inspired by sci-fi and horror pop culture references. Big Rip is community-driven and socially progressive. Burrows’ repertoire includes easy drinkers and on-trend offerings. Foggy Haddonfield Hazy IPA 2.0 is a collab brew produced by the KC chapter of Pink Boots Society. Session beers include Umbrella Kolsch and Zelda’s Vanilla Cream Ale. The Mango Aisle 12 West Coast Imperial IPA and Supreme Exchange Pilsner effortlessly obscure their booziness. – PETE DULIN
216 E. Ninth Ave., North Kansas City, Mo. 816-866-0747, bigripbrewing.com. 4-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-11 pm Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, 12:30-5:30 pm Sunday.
Most new breweries are founded with the idea of growing — if not a multigenerational empire then at least enough to field a company softball team. Brian and Mary Rooney are bucking that trend with BKS, their tiny weekends-only taproom in Brookside. Opened in October 2017, the BKS intent was to always start small, with friends and family lounging on the little westward-facing patio or grabbing a crowler of hazy IPA to take home. The couple never wanted to grow for the sake of growing, plotting a “very deliberate” path toward sustainable growth with a minimal debt load and without taking on other employees until they’re ready. Everything here is interesting and perpetually in a state of flux as Brian Rooney tinkers with his recipes. Take the Leipzig gose, Vacation Island, which tours the tropics — it might be inspired by a Bahama Mama on one visit and a margarita the next. Hoppy beers like Tiny Clouds have evolved a lot in the past 18 months, keeping things fresh even if you visit every Saturday — which many people in Brookside do. – MARTIN CIZMAR
633 E. 63rd St., Suite 120, Kansas City, Mo. 816-673-3027, bksartisanales.com. 4-9 pm Friday, 1-9 pm Saturday, 1-7 pm Sunday.
Despite being a newcomer to the Lawrence brewery scene, Black Stag co-owner John Hampton has 90 recipes in his back pocket. It’s safe to say he’s been thinking about Black Stag for a long time. The largest patio on the college town’s main drag is excellent, but like any new place, there are some growing pains, such as sporadically running out of popular beers and incongruous decor. Of the 10 beers on tap, we recommend the Mt. Bleu Belgian Wit, the kolsch or 1865 Black Stag Black Lager. (Look for a coffee porter using Alchemy Coffee in July.) Warning: The beer menu uses three-word descriptions, so if you’re confused, it’s best to look at the website or ask the bartender. When it comes to eats, there’s a huge range from beer nuts and “pork wings” to filet mignon. – ERICA HUNZINGER
623 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan. 785-766-1163, blackstagbrew.com. 11 am-midnight Tuesday-Saturday, 11-11 pm Sunday.
Border is a cozy brewery and taproom in a corner of the Crossroads neighborhood now known as Brewer’s Alley. People and dogs gather on the spacious patio to watch passersby and First Friday crowds. Owner-brewers Eric and Tracy Martens can often be found at the bar pouring pints and visiting with guests. Border specializes in balanced, easy-drinking session beers like Patio Pale Ale, Strawberry Blonde and Chocolate Milk Stout on nitro. Border sells a few bottled beers, such as Better Late Dark Sour made with roasted dates and Mint Chocolate Milk Stout. The “We Brew For You” program allows guests to vote on what beer will be brewed next. – PETE DULIN
406 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-315-6807, borderbrewco.com. 4-9 pm Wednesday-Thursday, noon-11 pm, noon-8 pm Sunday.
What can we say about Boulevard that hasn’t already been said? Well, plenty, actually — that’s the beauty of this local institution. Three decades in, Boulevard is still making waves with excellent limited-edition releases (this year’s Rye on Rye 6 was aged in Templeton Rye whiskey barrels), an amazing new IPA and even new ventures beyond beer (like Fling, the brewery’s recently released line of canned cocktails). And, of course, what brew could compare to the flagship Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale? Whatever your preference, there’s a tall glass of something cold and interesting with your name on it at Boulevard’s cavernous two-story Westside tasting room, which has modish furnishings bathed in natural light after a recent remodel. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
2534 Madison Ave., Kansas City, Mo. 816-474-7095, boulevard.com. 11 am-8 pm Monday-Wednesday, 11 am-9 pm Thursday, 10 am-9 pm Friday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm Sunday.
Come to Brewery Emperial for the impeccable patio, and stay for the beer. This Crossroads brewery has experimented with about 40 different styles of beer in the two years it’s existed and maintains modest daily tap lists. Emperial’s most popular and widely distributed beer is the Biscuit, a smooth English-style and pale ale hybrid that uses biscuit malt, creating a slightly sweet and smooth taste. Fun fact: The vats Brewery Emperial uses were previously used by Hitachino Nest, a brewery in Japan. – NICOLE BRADLEY
1829 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-945-9625, breweryemperial.com. 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Want to try homebrewing without investing in your own equipment? Head to Brew Lab, which offers the chance to make five gallons of your own suds on site for $225. Just want to drink beer? Well, you can do that, too, in the airy, industrial taproom in downtown Overland Park. In addition to the “you brew” system, this operation includes a kitchen, event space and taproom. The food menu includes items like a pulled pork sandwich smothered in Gouda cheese and parmesan truffle fries. There are typically 15 house beers on tap and the taster flight is served in a beaker-shaped wood holder. – KIM HORGAN
7925 Marty St., Overland Park, Kan. 913-400-2343, brewlabkc.com. 11 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 11 am-8 pm Sunday.
Callsign Brewing Company
Put your living room in a former tire manufacturing plant. Paint the walls a deep green. Install 10 taps. You’re in a VFW for the 21st century, and you’re also in Callsign. Founded by an Air Force family and open a year in July, Callsign displays its love for the military (think an airstrip on the bar) and encourages messages to service members on its chalk wall. Drink the hell out of Fighter Pale Ale and Blonde Bombshell, or try some of the one-time brews like the caramelly waffle ale. – ERICA HUNZINGER
1447 N Gentry St., North Kansas City, Mo., callsignbrewing.com. 4-9 pm Wednesday-Thursday, 4-10 pm Friday, 2-10 pm Saturday, noon- 5 pm Sunday.
Sun-worshipping patio seekers, head north of the river, where you’ll find a big patio with a chill vibe at Calibration. The brewery has 16 taps, with each brew named after a song. Our favorite was the sessionable Golden Slumbers. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, there are two house-made ciders. Open three years in July, Calibration is laid back and warmly decorated. Owner Glen Stinson is opening a breakfast joint next door called Keg & Egg this summer. – ERICA HUNZINGER
119 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Mo. 816-994-8277, calibrationbrewery.com. 3-9 pm Monday-Wednesday, 3-10 pm Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 12-5 pm Sunday.
Casual Animal sits in a former tobacco warehouse in the beer-dense Crossroads neighborhood. Owners Kyle and Lara Gray opened this animal-themed brewery just over a year ago. Kyle Gray showcases his design background with colorful graphics on the taproom walls and beer signage behind the bar. The brewery’s name encourages guests to explore their “wild side” while savoring laid-back beers. The tap list revolves around easy-drinking session beers, including a Swiss lager and a honey wheat. We’re big fans of the India pale lager, one of our 10 favorite beers of the year. – PETE DULIN
1725 McGee St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-214-5388, casualanimalbrewing.com. Noon-9 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday, noon-7 pm Sunday.
Six years ago the owner of Cinder Block moved out of his basement and into, well, a space that looks like a basement — albeit one with higher ceilings. This Northland brewery has found its way onto 150 taps in the Kansas City, Lawrence and Manhattan area. At the mothership, there are TVs to watch the game and 20 taps with plenty to choose from. Operations manager Matt Estes says the Block IPA and the Weathered Wit are best sellers. Don’t pass up the trendy Hop Cuddle hazy IPA or one of the barrel-aged brews. There’s also high-gravity cider and mead. Hungry drinkers can find bar snacks or order from the pizza place around the corner, which will deliver to the bar. – ERICA HUNZINGER
110 E 18th Ave., North Kansas City, Mo. 816-298-6555, cinderblockbrewery.com. 4-9 pm Monday-Thursday, noon-11 pm Friday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
City Barrel is arguably the most ambitious brewery opening in Kansas City history, following the national trend focusing on hazy hoppies, wild-style sours and barrel-aged creations. The brewery debuted in February inside a 7,800-square-foot former paper warehouse in the East Crossroads. Co-founders James Stutsman, Grant Waner and Joe Giammonco came out firing with a 15-barrel system and two 30-barrel oak foeders for their sours. They offer an extensive menu of upscale pub grub (think charcuterie boards and skin-on salmon seared with a soy maple glaze) along with some of the best fruited hazies in town and a great brut IPA. We’re excited to see where they end up after their beer has some time to age in those barrels and the operation settles into its massive space. – MARTIN CIZMAR
1740 Holmes St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-298-7008, citybarrelbrewing.com. 3-11 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11-12 am Friday-Saturday, 11 am-9 pm Sunday.
At the end of a gravel road in the center of Raytown, you’ll find Crane Brewing — a modern, casual space with barnwood tables and hand-painted beer boards. Crane is known for its sours and farmhouse ales brewed with unexpected fresh fruit flavors. Everything Crane makes is good (see their beer in our top 10) but some of their beers are weirder than others. Try their beet-based weiss, a surprising fusion of beets and wheat that has an earthy, zippy taste. There’s no kitchen, but on Saturdays Crane partners with Harp Barbecue to sell Texas-style brisket along with ribs and pulled pork. You’re also allowed to carry in food to pair with a tea weiss or apple spiced gose. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and ready to talk about beer history, origami cranes, brewery cats and anything else that’s on your mind. – KIM HORGAN
6515 Railroad St., Raytown, Mo. 816-743-4132, cranebrewing.com. 4-9 pm Wednesday-Thursday, 2-10 pm Friday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday, noon-6 pm Sunday.
Take your senses on an adventure at Double Shift, located along Brewer’s Alley. Established by Leawood firefighter Aaron Ogilvie, the five-barrel brewery and taproom retains the East Crossroads’ urban indie arts spirit. The output of head brewer Bryan Stewart and Double Shift’s team is prolific, creative and diverse. Hop fans can explore Tessellation IPA with Mosaic hops, Bonk! Hazy IPA and rotating juicy-piney hop bombs. Blueberry Grind’s fruity kettle-soured profile surprises with coffee notes and orange zest. Limited releases get even more creative, such as the Opptoyer Norwegian Table Beer — think juniper-citrus gin botanicals. Grab a cozy seat next to the open garage door and soak in vibes as LPs spin on the turntable. (Check out their beer in our top 10 list) – PETE DULIN
412 E. 18th St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-304-7028, doubleshiftbrewing.com. 4-10 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 4-11:30 pm Friday, noon-11:30 pm Saturday, Sunday noon-8 pm.
Dubious Claims is named for the boasts Excelsior Springs made about its municipal water’s ability to cure ailments and injuries. The brewery is in an old mortuary, a theme echoed with skeleton decor and the Embalmer Milk Stout. The morbid history behind the building doesn’t seem to bother townies at all. The bustling brewery and restaurant has 13 house beers on tap at a time, with their most popular being the Bathhouse blueberry wheat, a biscuity ale with subtle berry. – NICOLE BRADLEY
451 S. Thompson Ave., Excelsior Springs, Mo. 816-900-1882, dubiousclaimsbrewingco.com. 5-10 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday.
Don’t be alarmed if you hear gunshots at East Forty — there’s a gun range below this brewery in downtown Blue Springs. David Mann and Matt Bryan were looking to make a family-friendly gathering spot in east Jackson County when they took over a former print shop. Head brewer Parc Ward maintains 30 tap handles and provides lots of options. Sunrise Saison, a French-style ginger and lime saison that almost tastes like a shandy, is a best seller. The California Common-style lager goes down easy and pairs well with East Forty’s three-cheese grilled cheese on sourdough. The brewery offers a full food menu plus cocktails and wine for non-beer drinkers. The owners are proud of their solar panel setup, which offsets about 50 percent of their energy use. – MIKE PLUNKETT
1201 W. Main St., Blue Springs, Mo. 816-988-8217, eastfortybrewing.com. 4 pm-10 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
Fields and Ivy
Bringing the DIY spirit to the Lawrence beer scene, Fields and Ivy is growing its own corn and barley in Wellsville. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to sample the beers, as it opened in east Lawrence after the issue went to press. Founder and CEO Cory Johnston says the first two beers on the 12-tap system will be a wheat (also grown on the farm) and an American lager (with silvermine heirloom corn developed in Lawrence in the early 1900s). Another full-service restaurant-brewery combo, Fields and Ivy’s food will be fully made from scratch. And if you’re itching to be out in the heat, hang out in the beer garden. – ERICA HUNZINGER
706 E. 23rd St., Lawrence, Kan. 785-274-8429, fieldsandivy.com. 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.
The O.G. Lawrence brewery has been around since 1989. Free State is like your hippie aunt and uncle who give you wide berth and always encourage you to try something weird (and awesome). The key to that creativity, according to director of brewing operations Geoff Deman, is trying to make the best versions of what’s trending and coming up with brand-new recipes. The standards, like Ad Astra Ale and Yakamaniac IPA, are solid. But don’t sleep on seasonals like Free State’s take on the brut IPA, the Garden Party Lager and a new lemongrass rye (both coming in July), and the ever-popular Oktoberfest in August. Visit the brewpub for a vibe that’s like drinking and eating in a cave, if the cave also was a mountain chalet… with a spacious patio to people-watch. – ERICA HUNZINGER
636 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, Kan. 785-843-4555. 11 am-11 pm Monday-Wednesday, 11 am-midnight Thursday-Saturday, noon-11 pm Sunday.
Fringe Beerworks became the first craft brewery in Lee’s Summit upon its December 2017 opening. The eclectic 49-seat space has circus-themed decor and a funhouse mirror, but the main draw is the 24 tap lines split between Fringe brews and guest taps. Mark Myers and Eddie Pease make a broad assortment of brews from an English milk stout with coffee to a thirst-quenching grapefruit wheat. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
224 S.E. Douglas St., Lee’s Summit, Mo. 816-600-2552, fringebeerworks.com. noon-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Gordon Biersch is a national chain founded in California that’s best-known for its craft lagers. The brewpub was one of the original tenants in the Power & Light District back in 2008, later migrating south to Leawood’s Park Place shopping center. The stately brick-walled brewpub’s signature is its top-notch service, which harkens back to a more innocent age where the craft beer industry sought to win converts through patient education and a personal touch. Its locally brewed lagers remain impressive, especially the bready marzen and spicy Czech pilsner with imported Saaz hops. The food tends toward the large and decadent. – MARTIN CIZMAR
11652 Ash St., Leawood, Kan. 913-451-2739, gordonbiersch.com. 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Grains & Taps
It took Brad Boehm and Brian Bixby five years — and an unfortunate fire — to transform Grains & Taps from a beloved local homebrew supply store into a full-fledged brewery. In 2018, the exhaust fan in the bathroom caught fire, and the resulting damage called for a full remodel. We’ll call it a blessing in disguise because it allowed Boehm and Bixby to introduce a brewery into their business model. Today, Grains & Taps has a mix of proprietary and guest beers on its 25 taps. Notable brews include a Belgian-style Plum TTFN Quadrupel Ale and a Lime Sherbet Gose. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
10 S.W. Third St., Lee’s Summit, Mo. 816-866-5827, grainsandtaps.com. 3 pm-10 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, 3 pm-midnight Thursday, noon-1 am Friday-Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
Granite City is a chain of brewpubs spanning 13 states from North Dakota to Tennessee. There are three in the Kansas City area, including a big beer hall in Olathe that draws an enthusiastic crowd with country music, trivia contests and a food menu featuring lettuce wraps, glazed shrimp and Cajun pasta. There are a dozen taps of house beer, the best of which tend to be traditional offerings like the oatmeal stout and pale ale. – MARTIN CIZMAR
15085 W. 119th St., Olathe, Kan. 913-829-6060. 11 am-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 am-1 am Friday-Saturday, 9 am-10 pm Sunday.
Green Room Burgers & Beer
Tucked next to Westport Coffee House and an improv studio, Green Room’s name refers to the room in a theater or studio where performers relax before taking the stage. Similarly, Green Room and its spacious patio is a refuge from life’s hustle and bustle. Outfitted with craft beer signage and stickers, the space has an eclectic, funky feel that echoes Westport’s indie spirit. Typically, guests will find two to four rotating house beers on tap, such as crisp, hoppy Kamziweizen or cask ale brewed in house. The bar has 15 other local and national craft beers on tap. – PETE DULIN
4010 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite D, Kansas City, Mo. 816-216-7682, greenroomkc.com. 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Tuesday, 11 am-midnight Wednesday-Thursday, 11 am-1am Friday-Saturday.
Grinders High Noon
At first glance, you wouldn’t know that Grinders High Noon brewed its own beer. It isn’t until you venture your way to the back of the small-town bar that you see the silver vats through tiny windows by the pool tables. Harbored in the old location of Leavenworth’s High Noon Saloon, Grinders owner and KC mogul Jeffrey “Stretch” Rumaner decided to keep the brewing tradition going. The bar keeps three house-brewed beers on tap (pale ale, cream ale and IPA), which it distributes to all Grinders locations and brews, as well as one specialized draft, which is only available at High Noon — right now, it’s a barley wine. – NICOLE BRADLEY
208 Choctaw St., Leavenworth, Kan. 913-651-1000, grinderspizza.com. 11 am-11 pm Wednesday, 11 am-midnight Thursday-Saturday.
KC Bier Co.
Did Steve Holle know he was onto something in 2014 when he opened KC Bier Co. with the intention to bring classic German-style beers to the Kansas City population? Did he have any inkling that within the first year of business, over 250 local bars and restaurants would be carrying at least one of his taps? Was he even mildly aware that Bier Co.’s Dunkel, a totally smooth and crushable Munich-style brown lager, would become one of Kansas City’s most popular and best-selling beers? Do we even care when we’re enjoying the 2018 World Beer Cup silver medal-winning Winterbock with a giant Bavarian pretzel at KC Bier Co.’s approachable Waldo taproom and biergarten next to the city’s most popular bike path? Eh. Just pour us another one, thanks. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
310 W. 79th St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-214-8691, kcbier.com. 2-11 pm Tuesday-Friday, Saturday 11 am-11 pm, 11 am-9 pm Sunday.
Lawrence Beer Co.
If the laid-back Free State is the dive bar of breweries in Lawrence, then Lawrence Beer Co. is where you go for a second date. The sleek interior (industrial, dark wood, exposed brick, gorgeous prairie painting) is paired with solid food choices. You’ll find something super drinkable (try the Two Hands Anyhow English Ale or Pal Pilsner) or high-alcohol/high-adventure/short run. LBC is throwing a street festival on August 23 for its second anniversary and collaborating with Odell. Although you’ll find them on tap around Lawrence and Topeka, don’t expect wide-scale distribution into KC. Co-founder Matt Williams says they’re looking to stay flexible. Look for an LBC taproom in west Lawrence later this year. – ERICA HUNZINGER
826 Pennsylvania St., Lawrence, Kan. 785-856-0453, lawrencebeerco.com. 11 am-11 pm Tuesday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-10 pm Sunday.
Levi Garrison & Sons
At Levi Garrison & Sons, owner Scott Faulke wants to provide craft beer to the 1,900 people of tiny railtown Hamilton, due east of St. Joseph. That ethos guides the tap list at this quaint microbrewery in a corner brick building, which eschews out-of-the-ordinary concoctions for classics like the pale ale and amber. The beer list stays pretty consistent aside from two rotating seasonal taps. The brewery distributes to St. Joe if you want to try it without making a special trip to Caldwell County. – NICOLE BRADLEY
105 W. Bird St., Hamilton, Mo. 816-668-9421. lgsbrewingco.com. Noon-8 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday-Saturday.
St. Joseph has a proud brewing history, dating to the 1859 opening of Goetz, which was so popular it eventually opened a satellite in Kansas City during Prohibition. And yet, when Liberty Cap started brewing in 2018, there was no one else in town making beer. Liberty Cap doesn’t have a taproom, but that’s not slowing its popularity — the company’s release party packed out a St. Joe Italian restaurant that carries Liberty Cap’s four regular beers on tap. Liberty Cap will soon distribute to Kansas City — look for its canned kolsch, oatmeal stout, pale ale and IPA. – NICOLE BRADLEY
414 N. 13th St., St. Joseph, Mo. libertycapbrewing.com.
You know that house in the neighborhood where everyone gathers? Limitless is that place — but unlike your neighbor’s house, you’re welcome to hang out every day. Stop in to enjoy the casual, family-friendly atmosphere, grab a board game or play ping pong in the back room. You’re welcome to have food delivered to the bar. The beer selection is diverse — try the Bradshaw, a puckery sour with a passion fruit flavor. If you prefer something more traditional, go for the hefeweizen, a wheat with hints of banana and clove. From yoga classes to art sales to fundraisers to group runs, there is sure to be an activity for everyone — it’s like a community center with beer, exactly as envisioned when it opened in November 2018. Like any good gathering place, it’s open 365 days a year. – KIM HORGAN
9765 Widmer Road, Lenexa, Kan. 913-526-3258, limitlessbrewing.com. 4-9 pm Monday-Thursday, 3-10 pm Friday, 11 am-11 pm Saturday, noon-7 pm Sunday.
Martin City Brewing
Martin City’s quaffable flagship Easy Way IPA is on tap handles all across town for a reason. But if you make your way to one of its pubs, you’ll find it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not only does Martin City have a special way with hops (try the tasty hazy imperial Radical Candor), but it can also make a biscuitty English mild and a refreshing pilsner. Martin City also offers a well-rounded pub experience with well-made pizza, pretzels and other bar snacks. – MARTIN CIZMAR
4000 Indian Creek Parkway, Overland Park, Kan. 913-387-4344. Pizza Pub in Martin City, 410 E. 135th St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-268-2222. martincitybrewingcompany.com. All open 11 am-late daily.
You might think a brewery that was founded by four homebrewers with adventurous palates would be a little too niche for the average consumer. Not so with New Axiom, which celebrates its first birthday this July. Founders Mac Lamken, Joe Migletz, Devin Glaser and Sean Householder have something for everyone. On any given day, you can choose from a range of IPAs, hazy pale ales, sours, stouts, brown ales and lagers on New Axiom’s 24 taps. If it’s available, don’t skip the endlessly drinkable peanut butter milkshake IPA. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
949 N.E. Columbus St., Lee’s Summit, Mo. newaxiombrewco.com. 5:30-10 pm Monday, 4-10 pm Wednesday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
Not Lost is in the hamlet of Ottawa, Kansas, a quaint town about an hour south of the city. Its wide Main Street looks like the set of American Graffiti and is home to a historic train station, the oldest purpose-built cinema in the world and this small brewery, which opened in March. Not Lost took over a former antique store and set up a bare-bones tasting room serving its beer and smoked meats from Angry River Barbecue (get the burnt ends with mac and cheese). Not Lost employs a bizarre service system — even if you sit at the bar, you have to get up and wait in line to order, then hope your seat is still there — and has a beer menu that ranges from a novice-friendly kolsch to a trendy blueberry lemon milkshake IPA. – MARTIN CIZMAR
229 S Main St., Ottawa, Kan. 785-214-4259, notlostbrewing.com. Noon-8 pm Thursday, noon-9 pm Friday-Saturday, 1-6 pm Sunday.
This big and airy taproom in an Olathe strip mall has fervent fans — we mistakenly omitted our listing for Red Crow from our print edition and were quickly set straight about our mistake — which you’ll understand after making a visit. Red Crow originally opened in 2015 down in Spring Hill, on the southern edge of Johnson County. They recently opened in an Olathe plaza, bringing along their line of beers named for women. The spicy Belgian blonde Isabelle and the restrained IPA Louise are solid bets, but everything on our taster tray was good. — MARTIN CIZMAR
1062 West Santa Fe, Olathe, Kan. 913-440-9852, redcrowbrew.com. Tuesday and Wednesday 11 am- 10:30 pm, Thursday-Saturday 11 am-11 pm, Sunday 11 am-8 pm.
River Bluff opened last September, but it already fits seamlessly into the Missouri riverside town of St. Joseph. The brewery is housed in an old Ford Model T showroom, creating a bright and airy environment with a sort of a cabin aesthetic credited to the long barhall wooden tables and the live-edge tap handles. The most popular offering, the Speedliner, is everything you could ask for in an IPA: It’s drinkable, light and tasty for hop-lovers looking for a full-flavor beer. Other St. Josephite favorites include Jerry’s Porter and Union Lager. – NICOLE BRADLEY
1224 Frederick Ave, St. Joseph, Mo. 816-259-5339, riverbluffbrew.com. 3-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 3-11 pm Friday, 11 am-11 pm Saturday, 11 am-8 pm Sunday.
Twin brothers Jonathan and Pippin Williamson always wanted twin breweries. Pippen lives in the little town of Hutchinson, northwest of Wichita, where Sandhills opened last year. A year later, they’ve opened this spin-off in JoCo. Like Transport and Servaes (below), this spot is leaning hazy, hoppy and sour, with a focus on mixed-fermentation ales aged in oak. The brothers are looking to create a family-friendly space with board games and murals of Kansas birds, including the namesake species of crane. The best beers on offer are the barrel-aged sours brought up from Hutchinson which on our visit included a Flanders-style sour red that was refermented with black currants as it was aged in wine barrels — a complex beer that’s as much a wine, yet remains drinkable at 5.5% ABV. – MARTIN CIZMAR
5612 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kan. sandhillsbrewing.com. 3-10 pm Thursday-Friday, noon-10 pm Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
Having opened this spring in Shawnee’s historic district, Servaes is an exemplar of women dominating the beer industry. The Mission brewery owner Courtney Servaes offers a lineup of tasty and truly out-of-the-ordinary brews: A rainbow sherbet sour witbier, a peach daiquiri-flavored sour ale and a jelly bean cream ale are a few taps she’s playing with. Servaes sure knows how to keep us on our toes, and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming down the pipeline. – NICOLE BRADLEY
10921 Johnson Drive, Shawnee, Kan. 913-608-5220, servaesbrewco.com. 4-10 pm Thursday-Friday, 11 am-10 pm Saturday, 11 am-8 pm Sunday.
If there’s a more perfect meal beyond some combination of Kansas City-style barbecue and beer, we don’t know about it — and we probably wouldn’t believe it, either. Smoke Brewing, which opened in 2017 in downtown Lee’s Summit, seems to abide by that same philosophy. Founders Jeff and Josh Edwards are a father and son who have been homebrewers for decades. They’ve built a large, modern, 150-seat taproom and barbecue-focused restaurant well prepared to cater to a hungry, thirsty public. Brews at Smoke are mainstream: You won’t find much in the way of sours or milkshake IPAs, but there are plenty of stouts and German styles to choose from. And if you’re looking for a beautiful, balanced beer, you couldn’t do much better than Smoke’s New England IPA. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
209 S.E. Main St., Lee’s Summit, Mo. 816-525-2337, smokebrewingcompany.com. 11 am-11 pm Monday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday, 10 am-6 pm Sunday.
The River Market’s Strange Days is surrounded by beer history. The taproom is located in a building that once housed parts of the Muehlebach and Schlitz breweries. The space is also just a block away from Kansas City’s first recorded brewery, opened in the 1850s. Supporting fans of craft beer and European football, the brewery opens regularly on weekend mornings to air games. Brewer Damon Arredondo makes it a gooaaalll to produce globally influenced beers, such as 316 Oak St. Lager, Channel Surfing American IPA, Le Petit Belgian table beer and farmhouse ale Juice Barn. Tattooine Sunset Sour IPA explores passion fruit, mango and pine in a low-ABV format. Cheeky Lad English Strong Ale (9 percent ABV) weighs in with estery, spicy fruit notes. – PETE DULIN
316 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-469-5321, strangedaysbrewing.com. 4-9 pm Monday, 3-10 pm Thursday-Friday, 9 am-10 pm Saturday, 9 am-9 pm Sunday.
The Stockyards District is rapidly evolving along Genessee Street. The Wild West character of the West Bottoms is faded but not entirely lost. As “Trail Boss,” Greg Bland’s Stockyards Brewing preserves and celebrates the neighborhood’s rich history and culture. The brewery occupies a section of the former home of the iconic Golden Ox, now reopened nextdoor. A panoramic photograph, curved booths, western murals and even carpet was preserved to retain a timeless feel. Sunday Service music shows draw steady crowds. Roll into the taproom and try quaffable session brews by “point man” and head brewer Micah Weichert. These are blue-collar beers: pale ale, Mexican-style lager, stout, IPA and a lightly tart weiss. – PETE DULIN
1600 Genessee St., Suite 100, Kansas City, Mo. 816-895-8880, stockyardsbrewing.com. 4-10 pm Tuesday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
Torn Label’s taproom seems to perfectly fit into the nooks and crannies of the Crossroads. The divey brewery has been around for about four years and spends most of its resources canning and experimenting with new brews — especially IPAs. The brewery showcases six to seven beers at a time, the bestseller being eminent Hang ’em High, an IPA that uses a different hops variety every batch (currently on No. 26), giving sippers a deviated tasting experience every time. Other standouts include Alpha Ale, a hop-forward citrus ale and Gustucide, a tropical-style peachy IPA. – NICOLE BRADLEY
1708 Campbell St., Kansas City, Mo. 816-656-5459. tornlabel.com. 5-10 pm Wednesday-Thursday, 4 pm-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday, noon-8 pm Sunday.
Transport Brewery is the epitome of on-trend, sporting a lineup of fruity sours, pastry stouts and hazies with names like Trop Queen and How Bout Dat? (as in, catch it outside). This six-barrel brewery and taproom took over a 3,000-square-foot century-old stone building in downtown Shawnee, narrowly nosing out Servaes and Sandhills to be first in the area. With stylish enamel camping mugs for purchase and beers that steer bright and hoppy, this is a great spot to go on a sunny summer day when you can grab a seat on the outdoor patio cut from an alleyway between the taproom and Aztec Theater. – MARTIN CIZMAR
11113 Johnson Drive, Shawnee. Kan. 913-766-6673, transportbrewery.com. 4-10 pm Wednesday-Thursday, noon-1 pm Friday-Saturday, 11 am-7 pm Sunday.
The perfect spot to drink isn’t far from Lawrence. Wakarusa Brewery is low-key (looks like a storefront church, feels like your buddy’s basement), on Eudora’s Main Street and has solid beers (don’t miss the oatmeal stout or one of the seasonal IPAs). Co-owner John Randtke says it’s been open for a year and a half, but the owners put five years of renovations into the space before opening. Aside from being in Eudora, another thing that sets Wakarusa apart is its mead, which it tries to keep at a similar ABV to the beers. Plus, there’s popcorn. Permission for a short road trip granted. – ERICA HUNZINGER
710 Main St., Eudora, Kan. 913-256-5119, wakarusabrewery.com. 4-9 pm Thursday, 4-11 pm Friday, 1-11 pm Saturday, 1-9 pm Sunday.
Before opening Wind Shift just off I-70 in Blue Springs, Tony DiPlacito had been homebrewing for a decade. That’s half as long as he’d been working in the building where his tiny, no-frills brewery now sits. After helping open Apex, DiPlacito struck out on his own by renting the office space in the front half of the auto shop where he’s a mechanic. Tony and wife Lynn are very handy, so it only took them five months to get the place open and brewing — they toured the space on Christmas Day and by May hung a tarp outside to advertise their wares. Tony is handy with a kettle, too, making a wide variety of beers that show a longtime homebrewer’s touch for balanced but distinctive flavors. A well-rounded pilsner with Cascade hops and a classic English IPA called Effing Pennington were highlights on our visit. – MARTIN CIZMAR
3421 NW Jefferson Street Suite B, Blue Springs, Mo. 816-786-2699, wind-shift-brewing.gator.site. 5-9 pm Thursday, noon-10 pm Friday and Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
The vibe at Weston Brewing, a subterranean taproom and brewery in the small town of Weston, Missouri, is so special and cool that the bartender could probably serve you warm hot dog water in a beer mug and it wouldn’t matter. Located in a cavernous space six stories below O’Malley’s Pub, Weston Brewing Co. feels like a speakeasy and acts like a beer garden. There’s plenty of history in those stone walls, too: Weston Brewing Co. was founded in 1842 by German immigrant John Georgian, and though ownership has changed over the years, people have always clamored for beers from the oldest brewery west of the Hudson River. The O’Malley’s Cream Ale is a popular choice here. – NATALIE GALLAGHER
500 Welt St., Weston, Mo. 816-640-5235, westonirish.com. Sunday-Saturday 11:30 am-9 pm.