Lawrence Beer Company (826 Pennsylvania St., Lawrence, Kansas) opened in the Warehouse Arts District in late August. A recent trip to the brewery and taproom revealed a dynamic space with a solid slate of beer and modern brewpub food to explore.
Matt Williams, Adam Williams (no relation), Brendon Allen, and chef Ken Baker, former owner-operator of Pachamama’s, co-founded LBC. They created a brewery that distinguishes itself from the city’s beloved Free State Brewing Company with its chummy neighborhood feel and 23rd Street Brewery’s sports bar emphasis.
The light industrial look of LBC’s taproom ties into the history of industrial warehouses in East Lawrence. Exposed steel beams, polished wood panels suspended from the ceiling, wood furnishings, and a cool gray and powder blue color palette present an understated utilitarian look. These elements play a supporting role to the primary artwork. A vast, multi-panel painting titled “Ocean Over Kansas,” by local artist Brian Timmer dominates a wall that frames the taproom. Commissioned by the brewery, Timmer’s painting evokes the vastness of the plains and skies of Kansas.
Head brewer Sam McClain left a brewing position at Half Acre Beer Company in Chicago to return to Kansas City. He produces an array of beer styles dialed into flavor and aroma. These beers don’t embody fads, but rather offer a lineup that could appeal to craft beer newcomers and beer geeks alike.
Chilly Bin American Pale Ale (5.4-percent ABV) unites German malt and New Zealand hops to yield a light ale with lemon and lime aroma and flavor. Named after the New Zealand slang term for beer cooler, Chilly Bin finished with a trace of bitterness. Regulars tout ‘Lectric IPA (6.5-percent ABV) as a must-try, especially for IPA lovers that favor big, dank, juicy hop bombs.
Two Hands Anyhow (5.75-percent ABV) is a caramel-colored English ale that leans sweet. A glass from the last keg of Raspberry Edel, a variant of LBC’s Berliner weisse (4.5-percent ABV) made with eight pounds of raspberries per barrel, tasted slightly sweet with little sourness and subtle fruit.
East Side Pale Ale (5.5-percent ABV) is a classic session ale. Made with four hop varieties, the APA touches on citrus, pine, tropical fruit, and funky hops with reliable balance. Lavender Diamond Smokey Porter (5.0-percent ABV) lives up to its name. The porter was brewed with peat and oak-smoked German malt. That smokiness is evident in the aroma and taste more than the menu description conveys. Chocolate malt flavor is present but smokiness lingers. The brewery also has several saisons, a stout, and another IPA on tap.
Grab a bite to pair with beer but note that the kitchen is only open from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Black-eyed pea hummus, a fancy grilled cheese, fried avocado tacos, smash patty cheeseburger, pretzel dumplings made with pork and kimchi vinaigrette, slow-roasted porchetta and affogato beignets signal that Lawrence Beer Company goes far beyond bar and grill grub.
Free State Brewing Company Beer on Tap at Hy-Vee Market Grille
Free State Brewing’s beers are now on draft at Hy-Vee Market Grille stores in Kansas and Missouri. The beer on tap will rotate quarterly. Moxee Moxie, a New England-style IPA, was chosen as the first beer to kick off the series.
The beer is named after Moxee, Washington, in the Yakima Valley, a region famed for its hops used in beer. Free State added mango to the NEIPA, accenting its tropical fruit character.
“Our collaboration with Hy-Vee reaches back a few years,” Free State Brewing Company director of brewing operations Geoff Deman said.
Hy-Vee was one of the earliest contributors to the Kansas Craft Brewers’ Expo that Free State has helped organize over the past seven years. As craft beer competition grows for space on retail shelves and taps at bars, Free State pursued this opportunity with Hy-Vee and modeled it after past collaborations with restaurants. Free State valued Hy-Vee Market Grilles’ focus on customers interested in craft beer.
“Hy-Vee Market Grilles are bringing in beers of great quality and value that can enhance the experience of dining and shopping at their locations,” Deman said. “It’s really rewarding and encouraging to expose our beers to an audience that might not have made it to our downtown Lawrence pub or haven’t previously been exposed to Free State Beer in the marketplace.”
Celebrate Hanukkah with Festiweiss and Jelly Donuts
Michael Crane, president and co-founder of Crane Brewing, found inspiration from beer and donuts recently while thinking about Hanukkah. The eight-day Jewish wintertime festival of lights is celebrated Dec. 12–20 this year.
Sufganiyot, a round Israeli jelly-filled donut, is traditionally eaten around the world during Hanukkah. Crane and his wife have purchased jelly-filled doughnuts from Doughboys (11559 E 63rd St., Raytown, Missouri) for their annual Hanukkah party over the past few years.
“It occurred to me the other day that our Festiweiss, cranberry and ginger Berliner Weiss, would pair well with these,” Crane said.
Crane went to Doughboys one morning and explained the concept of sufganiyot to the owner, Elisa Breitenbach. He bought some jelly-filled donuts, tried them with Festiweiss, confirmed his hunch, and shot a photo of the holiday pairing to share with others. Chowhound has a detailed recipe for sufganiyot, but Crane recommends heading to Doughboys for a baker’s dozen.
Torn Label Brewing (1708 Campbell) released Old Believer Russian Imperial Stout, a winter seasonal (11-percent plus ABV) that hits the upper alcohol range of the brewery’s roster. Old Believer is available at the taproom, on draft, and in 22-ounce bottles. Described as rich and warm with silky mouthfeel and slightly sweet notes of dark fruit, cocoa and black bread, the beer strikes a balance between fortitude and drinkability. On each Sunday of Advent (beginning this past Sunday), Torn Label will release a different single keg variant of Old Believer. Limited amounts of each variant (to be announced) will be available the same day in 375-milliliter bottles. The epic conclusion of the series will be Siberian Old Believer with a whopping 22-percent ABV.
— Pete Dulin writes about food trends for Flatland and is the author of The KC Ale Trail. Follow @FlatlandKC and #TapList on Twitter for more food news and trends.