After spending time at well-known craft brew destinations like Colorado, Washington, Alaska, or Germany, orders to Fort Riley might sound like a death sentence for hardcore beer enthusiasts. While Kansas’ draconian alcohol regulations discouraged brew masters from putting down roots in the Sunflower State until the late 1980s, a plethora of breweries sprung up in the area since the state’s prohibition ended. What follows is a list of where Big Red One Soldiers or anyone with a craft draft fetish should go to wet their whistle.
Located in the up and coming Poyntz Avenue district of Manhattan, this year old draft house features well known favorites as well as some specialty brews that are only available at the restaurant. If the weather’s nice, sit on the roof and enjoy craft beers with a great view.
Right and Up Tip: Beginners should try the Buffalo Sweat (robust oatmeal cream stout), 8-Bit (subtly hoppy APA) or the Pub Ale (accessible English brown ale). Advanced drinkers can try any of their Brewpub exclusives that change seasonally. I recommend the Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Buffalo Sweat with Cinnamon or Cherry Chocolate Buffalo Sweat.
Priding themselves on a ‘Farm to Fork’ experience, Little Apple has been a staple in Manhattan since 1995, and is where the locals go to enjoy a beer and burger after work. If you go at no other time, be sure to check out their annual Oktoberfest at the end of September. My husband and I went last year with our neighbors and some friends. Delicious food, great beer and good times had by all.
Right and Up Tip: Beginners should try the Wildcat Wheat Ale, Prairie Ale, Riley’s Red Ale, Black Angus Stout or the Bison Brown Ale. For the advanced brew palate, try a seasonal Bodacious Blueberry Blonde.
A cool spot on a cool street in the cool town of Lawrence, Free State has been doing great craft beer in the heart of Jayhawk country longer than anyone else in Kansas. As long as you’re down for a drive, you’re sure to enjoy the authentic vibe at what I consider to be the coolest brew destination in Kansas.
Right and Up Tip: Beginners should go for the Ad Astra Ale, Copperhead Pale Ale, Wheat State Golden or Oatmeal Stout. Advanced recommendations include the Dirty Kanza Kolsch, Stormchaser IPA or the Estado Libre.
Located about an hour East of Manhattan in Topeka, Blind Tiger is a cool place to enjoy a menu of Midwest pub favorites and barbeque in a 90s style multi-level lounge, dining rooms and patio. The food portions are generous and it’s a great place to stop on your way to or from Kansas City if you get hungry (or thirsty, rather).
Right and Up Tip: No matter what beers you try, make sure you order the Burnt Ends Tiger-Que platter. You won’t be sorry.