Saturday, May 7, 2011

Missouri Beer Festival (Recap)

I know I know….I haven’t done a Missouri Brew Tour lately, but that is because of today’s event, the long awaited Missouri Beer Festival.  I figured I would get to sample a few of MO’s best and lay out my plans for the next stops.  The fest didn’t disappoint.

Located at the Stoney Creek Inn, the main hall in the hotel was SAM_0451packed.  I was a little taken aback at the turn out, but very happy too.  I hadn’t expected this many people (I would say roughly 500+ cycled through) and Mid-MO represented itself well.  Hopefully this will prove that Columbia can support an event like this , and will continue to grow next year.

There was food, music, motorcycles and women dressed like St. Paulie Girls…..what more could a man want?  Beer, and there was plenty of that too.


For the record, I didn’t go into today with the intention to review every beer on hand.  I wanted to sample, chat and just take in as much as possible.  That said, I will say what worked for me, and what didn’t.

Best Beer- I’m actually going to give two #1s here.  Mostly because I know what I like, but I also know some people don’t dig the hops as much as I do.  Plus, Tall Grass from from Kansas, so I wanted to also highlight the best from Missouri as well.

For ME, the best beer available was Tall Grass Brewing Co’s Oasis.  A combination of an ESB and an IPA, I just call it an OUTSTANDING Hop Bomb in a glass.  I could drink it all night.  Tall Grass’ Buffalo Sweat was Debi’s favorite, and appeared to be a big winner with the crowd as well….especially considering they ran out.  I also wanted to add that the Rep on Site (Kara) has the greatest title I have ever seen – Purveyor of Canned Craft Libations for the Great State of Missouri. She knew her beer and could talk the talk. 

The other “Best Beer” was from Public House Brewing Company out SAM_0456of Rolla MO.  They had two beers on tap, their “Bird and Baby Mild” (which my british friend said was SPOT ON) and the Revelations Stout.  I personally thought the stout was excellent, very malty and it sat at the other end of the spectrum from TG’s Oasis.  Being a Guinness man at heart, I am very particular about my stouts, yet I really liked PHB’s and would serve it happily to any of my friends.  I also enjoyed speaking with Josh Stacy, the owner PHB (and NOT in the picture, sorry), and I definitely think we will be going to Rolla soon as part of the Missouri Brew Tour. 

Best Staff- This was a tough one, because I really liked both Josh and Kara, who represented their respective companies very well. 

The girls from Whiskey Wild were a lot of fun to talk to as well, and they get creative props for actually bring a cocktail to a beer fest. 

As it is, I spoke to a lot of people there, and in the end I would have to say the folks from 1839 Taphouse won me over.  I didn’t catch the gentleman’s name (which is sometimes a sign of great SAM_0457conversation, as it just flowed), but was he very friendly and knowledgeable of their entire beer line.  We stood and talked for some time, about everything from Music, to beer, to Hopz Cigars, to beer and then drank some beer.  I know he works bar on Wednesday Nights….so I will have to swing in and check out the place (and the Moose Drool).  I can honestly say that I am not the bar fly like I used to be, and 1839 Taphouse would not have been on my radar as I associate it with the College Scene.  Thanks to the friendliness of their crew today, I’ll give it a try.

Best Food – There were all types of food available to try-, from chips and dips, to wings and hotdogs.  Pizza was also fairly popular, but hands down the best food there was from 44 Stone Public House.  Mark and Dave were both on hand, and I commented to Debi that they looked they were in a food challenge from Top Chef.  Limited cooking space, trying to serve everyone and busting their hump.  I had the Lamb Sliders paired with the Twisted Thistly IPA.  Excellent.  I think a testament to how good the food was could have been seen by the LONG line throughout the whole event. They both represented well and everyone I spoke to loved it.  Great Job.SAM_0450

What didn’t work?  The two things that didn’t work well for me were both with the larger companies.  First, the folks from Goose Island were a little rude.  Debi had purchased pint glasses from Sonshine Graphics, and like many other people, we were using them for sampling.  Usually, this meant that you were getting a larger pour, and you didn’t have go looking for a trashcan to get rid of your cup.  At GI, they refused to pour into the glass (saying it was against the law) and they were a little stingy with the samples given.  They didn’t seem as engaged as other reps, and I personally felt they had “Better places to be”.  No skin of my back, it just seems that they are a great match for InBev.

The other one that rubbed me a little wrong was Boulevard.  They were tucked back in the corner, and the rep was not very engaging.  I spoke to him briefly about their Smokestack Series, especially since I had just reviewed 6th Glass, and asked why they had such a limited selection there today.  His response was there was a BIGGER event in St. Louis and this is all they sent him with.  Fair enough, but when Debi tried the Two Jokers Double-Wit (also from the Smokehouse Series) and didn’t like it (rather openly) his answer reaction was along the lines of “Tough”.  The reason that didn’t sit well with me was that he just told me he was the brewer of that beer.  If I had a customer offer criticism, I would have been trying to figure out the why?  It’s also wasn't like there were people queuing up for the beer…so had a few minutes that he could have gotten some honest feedback from her, but it was like he blew her off.  Not cool.

In the end, the GREAT far exceeded the bad.  The two companies that definitely benefitted the most by the exposure were 44 Stone and Tall Grass.  Their offerings were a hit not just with me, but everywhere I looked. You could tell by the demand that they were well received.

For a first time event, I thought everything went smooth and there was plenty of variety for everyone.   I think a big THANK YOU should go out to Tom Bradley and Missouri Life for putting this together.  Thanks also goes out to the vendors, there are some excellent beers in the Midwest, and it’s about time Missouri hosted something like this.  I am already looking forward to bigger and better next year.  Two thumbs up.


As an added note, I ran into Gary Nolan right when he was coming in.  He shared a great story about “That Guy” with us, and some exciting news….but I wont steal that thunder.  I was happy to see him back in CoMO and look forward to great things from him.


  1. I can honestly say, that because of the Beerfest, I will buy a product that I've noticed many times and made a conscious decision NOT to buy. I've seen the Tall Grass products multiple times, at HyVee and purposely passed it by. Why, you may ask? Simply because of the packaging. I was turned off by the can, to me, it looked like one of the "low end", cheap malt liquors or one of those beer/energy drink hybrids. I am so glad I went to the Beerfest and learned differently!! Tall Grass Buffalo Sweat is amazing and will definitely be in my cart next (and probably every) time I go buy beer.

  2. I'd be tempted to contact Boulevard about their rep.
    It almost sounds like they would have been better off sending no one. That's a sign that the guy is not meant for PR.

  3. The Boulevard guy was pissed off because the Whiskey Wild girls were also pouring Boulevard and he didn't know about it. I think he was having a bad day all around.
    I stand corrected on Public House. I wasn't thrilled with the stout in the midst of all the other samplings, but I had some later in a keg they brought to a party and it changed my mind after I got to actually savor it.
    I had a few beefs with the festival, like the lack of a tasting glass included with admission, and no listing of all the vendors so you could make notes. But, the turnout was great and I hope they'll improve on it next year. And don't schedule a beer festival on the same day as a much bigger festival in St. Louis!

  4. I can see him being upset that his thuner was stolen by the Whiskey Wild Girls, but to be honest....the only time I saw them pouring beer was when they were out of the Vegas Bombs (and that was towards the end). You can make out the Boulevard setup in the 4th picture. It looked bad and poorly thrown together. Also notice that he was eating. Every time I saw him, he was either eating or texting.

  5. As for Public House, welcome to micro/craft brewing. Sometimes it really does depend on the keg you get, and I am glad you got to try a better batch later. Of course, your palette could have been skewed due to sampling so many other things as well.

  6. I 100% agree with your complaints. Perhaps next year, the pre-purchases could include a package on Glasses/Shirts. I personally would have like a small tote bag to but things in, but that is just me.

    For a first time festival, I still give it 5 stars...the challange will be maintaining.

  7. I have been drinking Tall Grass beers as well too and like what I have been tasting. Buffalo Sweat is rather tasty, and so was their IPA (nicknamed Elephant Piss by a buddy of mine; which IMHO they should have gone with). I only heard about them about a month or so ago, but they seem to rooting themselves in local bars fairly pretty quickly.

  8. Hey Ed, thanks for stopping by Saturday and for the gracious comments about 1839 Taphouse in your review. Easy to smile and be friendly and when you love what you do. Beerfest was definitely one of the best events we’ve done this year. Turnout was great and everyone seemed to be having a blast. Props to Tom for taking a chance and setting it up. I agree that Public House and Tallgrass both brought some great beer. We’re taping Buffalo Sweat right now, so we’ve got Debi covered if she wants to join you when you come for the Moose Drool. Love the site. See you at the pub.


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