What a blast! The 2015 Parkville Microbrew Fest took place this past Saturday and it was a muddy good time. At 1pm, the tape was cut and thousands of beer lovers entered the festival.
A few highlights of the events in terms of beer: Radius Reflux Sour, Martin City Brewing Company From Belgium with Rum, Boulevard Foeder Projekt #1, and everything from Missouri Mashers especially the MILF Project. Of course, I didn’t try everything, so there may be a few gems I missed.
The best table was Root Sellers. Old medicine bottle tap handles, an old-timey bike, and they took this year’s odd color beer with their Carrot & Apple Ale.
The longest line was for Perennial Artisan Ales who was serving Saison de Lis, 17, Regalia, and Sump Coffee Stout. I got into the line late, so the only one left on tap was the Regalia. I stayed around their table for a little while talking with some friends (the table was on an end so there was a break) and was rewarded with some Abraxas from the bottle.
If the weather stopped anyone from coming to the event, it couldn’t have been too many. The rain and muddy ground only added to the fun. Most people were prepared with rain boots and ponchos and those who weren’t prepared just went with it and eventually kicked of their shoes.
See the pictures below!
I would say beer festival season kicked off on February 7th, with 75th Street Brewery’s Big Chill Beer & Chili Fest and a few fests between now and then, but the season really revs up this weekend with two big beer festivals and a visit from Woody.
The 12th Annual Parkville Microbrew Fest is this Saturday. From 1pm until 5pm, enjoy beers from breweries and even home brewers. This festival is extremely popular with the locals, home brewers, and beer lovers of all sorts. Last year drew 3,300 people. With 75 beer vendors, it’s really not as busy as the attendance would indicate. I went last year and most of the lines were pretty short, but there were a few tables you had to wait a good 10 minutes for a sample.
The festival is in a great location – English Landing Park in Parkville. It’s a pretty laid back event where you’re encouraged to bring chairs, water, and even pets. They’ll be partnering with Harvesters to collect non-perishable foods, so be sure to being some to donate.
A few special events and releases are as follows.
Crane Brewing will be there, but not to serve beer. They will have a scale model of their brewery to show off to the attendees.
Farnham House Brewing will have a special release beer: Winter Wheat Wine.
Blind Tiger Brewery will be walking around the event with Backpack Beer. While waiting in line, get your glass filled!
75th Street Brewery will have their Homebrew Competition Winner from last year, a French Saison named Battle of the Frontiers.
Sierra Nevada will be serving the first keg of Hoptimum, a whole-cone imperial IPA, in Missouri.
Charleville Vineyard Winery & Microbrewery will be tapping their Box of Chocolate, a Chocolate Belgian Quad, and when that runs out, they will tap their 2014 Barleywine.
Torn Label has three special releases. Leap of Faith, an American IPA, will be tapped at 2pm; Cafe Dubbel, a Belgian dubbel infused with single origin Ethiopian coffee from Thou Mayest, will be tapped at 3pm; and Long Time Comin’, a Russian Imperial Stout, will be tapped at 4pm.
Grain to Glass will be hosting a bottling demonstration at 2:30pm
Martin City Brewing Company will be tapping their From Belgium with Rum, a Belgian Imperial Stout aged in Rum barrels, at 3pm.
If you like unique beers like Boulevard Foeder Projekt #1, Perennial Saison de Lis, and a few fun skeeter pees from the Missouri Mashers, you won’t want to miss this event. Tickets are still available for $30, but go up to $35 on the day of the event. I would suggest getting there early to get good parking, listen to the preshow band, and get a good spot in line. School of Rock will be performing before the event and Amendment 21, Steamboat Bandits, and Three Drink Minimum performing during the event.
Kansas City On Tap Craft Beer Festival is put on by a national company that holds beer festivals in several cities around the country. It is also this Saturday and it runs from 2:30pm until 6pm. It’s very ambitious of them to be competing with a local beer festival that has been around for 12 years. However, tickets are sold out, so I guess there are enough beer lovers in Kansas City for everyone. They have an impressive list of beer vendors, so if you are attending this event rather than Parkville, you won’t be disappointed.
It, too, is in a great location – Richard L Berkeley Riverfront Park. Having not attended the event I can’t attest to the atmosphere, but I assume it will be similar to Parkville in which you can bring chairs and pets. There will be live music from Landrush and food available for purchase.
I do think that Parkville will have a more knowledgeable crowd of people who really know beer, so if you want to learn more or already know a lot, Parkville would be the event for you.
If you can’t make it to either event, Deschutes will be visiting Kansas with their Woody T. Barrel on Saturday. From 12pm until 4pm visit them at Barley’s Shawnee and from 6pm until 9pm visit them at Grinders in Lenexa.
Yesterday, I stopped by The Lone Elm Taproom in the new Whole Foods store in Olathe. It was their Grand Opening and you could tell from the crowd. The store itself was extremely busy, but the taproom was slightly less busy. It’s a great concept – a taproom inside a grocery store with local beers and wines. The taproom’s opening on Earth Day is no coincidence. It’s an Earth-friendly store that used recycled materials such as reclaimed gym floor from Dekalb High School in DeKalb, Missouri, wood paneling from reclaimed beetle-kill ash trees from around Kansas City, and spring bar stools made from an oil rig in Kansas to create the environment.
There were several people on staff and they were quick to serve and clean up. You could also order food featuring local ingredients. It’s always a good idea to eat before you go grocery shopping!
I didn’t stay for KC Bier Company‘s tapping of a Bavarian barrel, but I’m sure it was a good time. If KC Bier knows anything (other than bier) it’s how to have a good time!
The taproom will have beer events every Saturday starting May 2nd with a Beer & Cheese pairing. May 9th Torn Label will have a tap takeover and May 23rd will be Meet the Maker with KC Bier.
Overall, it’s a great little spot if you live nearby. I appreciate the work that went into it to make it as green and local as possible. It’s even a great spot for out-of-towners to try most of Kansas City’s offerings for beer all in one place.
Here are some pictures of the taproom.
The Certified Cicerone® exam is in town on April 21, but unfortunately for you it is booked full this time around. It will be back on September 21, so you’ll have a few more months to study before taking one of the hardest tests related to beer.
Not everyone can use the term Cicerone when explaining how educated they are on beer, but I’ve been to bars where they say they’re Certified Beer Specialists. So I asked one bar manager, “What makes you a Certified Beer Specialist?” Her answer, “Because it says so on my shirt.” Not quite the answer I was expecting or hoping for, so I told her about the Certified Beer Server certification through Cicerone. She said she would look into it, but maybe she was just being polite.
Cicerone “certifies and educates beer professionals in order to elevate the beer experience for consumers.” They offer three levels of testing – Certified Beer Server (for those who work with beer at a bar, liquor store, etc.), Certified Cicerone (for those who work more in depth with beer such as distribution, bottle shops, and breweries), and Master Cicerone (for those with encyclopedic knowledge of beer and highly refined tasting ability).
The Certified Beer Server certification is an online exam of 60 multiple choice questions. You need a 75% or better to pass and each payment allows for two attempts. Over 100 people in the Kansas City area are Certified Beer Servers. The cost is relatively low at $69 and would look good on a resumé if you’re looking for a job at a beer bar, distributor, or even a brewery.
The Certified Cicerone certification is much more in depth than the Certified Beer Server and that’s why less than 25 people in our area hold this certification. Well, that and the fact that they just recently started testing in Kansas City. After tomorrow, I hope to see that number much higher. Locally, the testing takes place at Boulevard Brewing Company. It’s a written exam with short answer and essay questions plus tasting and a demonstration component. A grade of 80% overall and at least 70% on the tasting portion are required to pass. The initial test is $395, with retakes being $100 and $175 for tasting and written, respectively.
The toughest of all, Master Cicerone. So tough, only nine people in the world hold this certification. We are lucky enough to have one right here in Kansas City. Neil Witte, who works for Boulevard as a Training/Technical Support Manager, passed the test about 2 1/2 years ago on his third try. At $795 for the initial testing and 80% of the current Master exam price for retakes, it’s not cheap. It’s a two-day exam that includes multiple written, oral, and tasting components. An overall grade of 85% or better is required to pass.
If you’re interested in the tests, here are a few tips to help you pass.
- Drink lots of beer, but really taste each beer and try to pick out flavors and aromas.
- Try different kinds of beer. You may love your IPAs, but it’s a beer test, not an IPA test.
- Study, of course. Read books such as Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher and The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver. You can also use the Certified Cicerone Exam from 2008 made available on Cicerone’s website.
- Attend beer events. Especially homebrewing club meetings where they discuss, at length, types of beers.
- Brew your own beer. National Homebrew Day is May 2nd, so it’s a great time to start getting into it or continue on your path. There will be a few local events to celebrate the day including Missouri Mashers hosting a large brew day at Grain to Glass. Also, 75th Street Brewery is having another Homebrew Contest that starts May 11th.
- Get a job! No, seriously, get a job at a bar, bottle shop, liquor store, brewery – anywhere with beer. The more you’re around it, the more you’ll know.
- If you learn better in a classroom environment, Cicerone has two bootcamps you can attend.
To all those taking the exam tomorrow, Good Luck!