Music, food, and craft beer will jostle for center stage this weekend at Boulevardia, a three-day festival in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Mo.
More than three dozen brewers from 11 states, from Oregon to Maine, as well as two Belgian breweries, will be on tap to provide samples. And – of course — there will be beer from local favorites in Kansas and Missouri (such as Boulevard Brewing Co., the organizer of the event).
We checked in with Kansas City-based author Doug Frost, who’s one of only three people in the world to hold dual distinctions of Master of Wine and Master Sommelier. Frost writes and lectures about wine, spirits – and beer.
1. How would you describe your approach to a beer festival?
It's pretty much impossible not to feel like a kid in a candy store. There's so much delicious beer around though that you have to have a plan. For me, it starts with the brewery — some I know and some I don't. There are great chat rooms out there that offer a lot of good opinion; I go there and try to find something out about each brewery and what they're best known for brewing. It sounds pretty geeky but it's how I do it because I'm trying to taste all the good stuff I can. But when I actually get to the brewery's table, though I'm looking for a particular beer, I usually get happily sidetracked to something else. Ask the brewer what they have, they're eager to show you their brews and they often bring along something new or even experimental.
2. Do you feel obligated to taste something from every brewery?
Well, good luck with that one; there's a lot of beer. I actually spit when I taste (the beer aficionados all sneer at me) but I can taste more things that way.
3. How do brewers view a festival? Is it primarily a means to network and hawk new products?
Brewers love what they do, they're not in it for the money. They love to show people their beers especially if you want to listen and learn. If it becomes a drunk fest (which is rarer than you might think) no one is having fun.
4. The number of regional craft breweries continues to increase across the U.S. (it's up about 23 percent in 2013). Do you think there’s a danger of a glut?
I think there will be a glut soon, but a glut of great beer is something I can handle. It will make it hard for breweries to thrive as Boulevard has done.
5. How do Kansas City breweries stack up compared to other craft brewers?
Boulevard has been and remains a class act — one of the great stories to come out of Kansas City in our lifetimes. There are other great brewers at Boulevardia too, perhaps not as high profile of course but delicious and distinctive beer is being made in and around our city and region. Mother's Brewing out of Springfield is there with two special brews and, from father away, Cooperstown's Ommegang has a delightful Witte they're bringing. Southern California's Stone Brewing is offering its Tiger Cub and since it's aged in white wine barrels, what's not to love? Boulevard will show their Entwined Ale and their new Ginger-Lemon Radler — cool stuff. But distillery wise, North Shore, Death's Door, Breckenridge and Templeton are all pouring their delightful spirits, and important locals Amigoni, Dark Horse and S.D. Strong are there too.
6. About 160 different beers will be offered at Boulevardia. If someone only had time to try one beer, what would you recommend?
There are so many great ones but I am nuts about — (Boulevard's) Rye on Rye.
7. You’re on your way to Ireland this week. Do your plans include wine, spirits, or beer?
Yes to all three but my immediate future is Irish whiskey (Powers, Green Spot, and Redbreast) and beer (there's more than Guinness there, though I'll be drinking that too).
Boulevardia takes place June 13-15, in and around the multi-leveled 12th Street viaduct, in the West Bottoms of Kansas City, Mo. Besides beer, the festival also offers two music stages and about 30 bands, food trucks, a carnival, and artisans, as well an "eco expo" about green initiatives in Kansas City.
Tickets are sold out for the Taps & Taste event, with unlimited beer and food samples. General admission tickets cost $15.