An interview with the outgoing managing editor of The Pitch, who's leaving town to write about the craft beer industry at Brewbound. We hear his take on KC's beer scene, which he covered for The Pitch, plus his assessment of the state of journalism here.


  • Justin Kendall
A bucket of freshly harvested hops sits at Midwest Hop Producers, ready for processing in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
Ariana Brocious / for Harvest Public Media

With craft beer booming and local breweries springing up all over the country, Midwest farmers are testing out ways to play a role in the growing market and, in the process, make local beer truly local.

Nearly all U.S. hops, which along with water, malt and yeast, comprise the base ingredients in beer, is grown in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Farmers and researchers in the Midwest, though, say the region could be ripe for a local hops explosion.

Paul Andrews/

Chuck Magerl grew up surrounded by family history.

During Prohibition, his grandfather was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary for distributing alcohol.

One great-great grandfather was the sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri --  in 1869, the governor of Missouri sent a letter, authorizing him to capture Frank and Jesse James, dead or alive.

Another ancestor ran a saloon in Kansas City; a ledger book shows he paid $7 per barrel of beer in 1909.

He was a pioneer in the local craft beer and artisanal food movement before those were really a thing. Meet Chuck Magerl, the man who worked to change the liquor laws in Kansas to open the Free State Brewing Company — the first legal brewery in the state after Prohibition.


A new Missouri law (SB 919) has been a source of contention among craft brewers and beer lovers in the state. Craft brewers feel that it will give a big boost to companies like Anheuser-Busch in convenience stores by letting them lease out refrigerator space. Lawmakers say that stores could stock craft brews in those cases.

Pittsburgh Craft Beers / Flickr

Bar food: it's salty, it's starchy, and you can usually pick it up with your hands. Beyond that, we make up our own rules. Whether it's by breaking the rules at the speakeasies of yesteryear, or enjoying a sandwich called a fluffernutter that's like a late-night pre-teen cabinet raid. A visit to Tom's Town Distilling Co., a spring-cheese tasting with a certified cheese expert and a critics roundtable on the best bar food in town.


Updated 3/3/2016 - Legislation designed to expand the sales of cold beer in the Show-Me State is now on tap in the Missouri House.

The Senate on Thursday voted 18-14 to pass Senate Bill 919, with support and opposition coming from both sides of the political aisle.

The bill would allow beer companies to lease portable refrigeration units to grocers and convenience stores, and allow those same stores to sell beer in reusable containers known as growlers.

Courtesy of Boulevard Brewing Company

Boulevard Brewing Company will open a new visitor center this summer to accommodate high demand for tours and tastings.

Boulevard’s Jeff Krum says that while some 60,000 people toured the brewery last year, thousands more were turned away, especially on busy Saturdays in the summer.

“If you are not here and in line by 10 o’clock when we open the doors and begin to give away passes for that day’s tours, you’re out of luck because once we get to the end of that long line, all the tour passes for that day are gone,” Krum says.

Courtesy photo / Dean Realty


Perhaps you’ve seen the six-story abandoned building off of Interstate 35 at Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City — it towers over its neighbors.


There’s a website displayed on the side in huge font: Beer isn’t brewed there any longer, and you won't find any for sale on their website.


But what is the Imperial Brewery and where did it go?


With a Twist

Dec 11, 2015
Jen Chen/KCUR

According to KCUR's Food Critics, 2015 will go down as the Year of the Drink.

Andy Rieger talks about bringing back his family's distillery, a local bartender makes us a seasonal holiday drink, we visit the Imperial Brewery building, and our Food Critics search out the best drinks of 2015 in and around KC.


Elle Moxley / KCUR

Everything Bryce Schaffter needed to brew beer commercially, North Kansas City had.

“Mostly industrial buildings work the best, along with the utilities that come to the building,” says Schaffter, Cinder Block Brewery founder. “You need a lot of gas power, electrical and obviously, water.”

North Kansas City has what Schaffter calls “flat” water. He got used to working with it back when he was a homebrewer who lived north of the river.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR

An up-and-coming trend has hit the Kansas City craft brewing scene — sour beer.

Characterized by a distinctly tart flavor, sour beer is full of bacteria and microorganisms, has a higher level of carbon dioxide, and is reminiscent in taste and smell of underripe fruits and overripe cheeses. Sound appealing? For some, it's a delicious refreshment. For others, it is unpalatable.

When it comes to refreshing summer drinks, sour isn't a characteristic that usually comes to mind. We invite two local brewers to guide us through the sour beer trend, and our in-house expert samples their wares (for research purposes, of course).

Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Larger demand for distinctive craft beers is opening up opportunities for smaller breweries.  And the Kansas City, Missouri  city council has taken action to make it easier to open a "nanobrewery."

A Kansas House committee has approved legislation that would let convenience stores sell full-strength beer and allow grocery stores to sell beer, wine and liquor. The proposed changes, which would take effect in 2018.

Republican Rep. Scott Schwab says this change will be convenient for Kansas consumers. He says in his family, his wife doesn’t want to go to a liquor store while out shopping.

KC Ale Trail is a guide to the craft brewing industry in our region. Inspired by the 25-year milestone since Boulevard Brewing Company got its start, author Pete Dulin has expanded our palate by adding several smaller startup breweries to the local must-try list. Plus, a young beer-preneur shares his insights into what makes Kansas City's beer scene unique. 


The Weekend To-Do List: June 13-15

Jun 12, 2014

If you're looking for a variety of entertainment this weekend, look no further than Brian McTavish's Weekend To-Do List for June 13-15.

Don McLean and Judy Collins
8:30 p.m. Friday
Knuckleheads, 2715 Rochester
Tickets: $68.50

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).

Dear Craft Beer, Kansas City Loves You

Mar 7, 2014
Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr -- Creative Commons

When it’s time to crack open a cold one, Kansas Citians say they reach for craft beer — most of the time.

That’s according to the feedback we received this week when we asked our listeners about their brew preferences.

Our curiosity piqued when we learned craft beer makers were coming to the Kansas City area this weekend for the Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition in Lawrence.

Herkie / Flickr--CC

One might assume that with such well known craft beers available from brewers like Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Mo., and Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence, Kan., there would be little room for other competition. But, craft brewing is on the rise in Kansas City, with many new microbreweries opening in the past year.

On Thursday's Central Standard host Brian Ellison looks at what is behind the Kansas City craft brewing trend and what the future looks like for these entrepreneurial ventures.



Craft beer makers from all over the region are poised to descend upon Lawrence for the Kansas Craft Brewers Exposition this weekend.  

And we’re wondering how Kansas Citians identify with the specialty ales.

We want to know what your beer choice says about you.

Tell KCUR: Are you a Joe six-pack or craft beer kind of person? Why?

Frank Morris / KCUR

People in Kansas City may not be too thrilled about it, but the pending sale of Boulevard Brewing company to Belgian beer maker Duvel Moortgat says a lot about how the American craft beer industry has grown up and gone global.

Kansas Citians are proud of lots of things, their barbeque, the Chiefs, Sporting Kansas City, even lately, the Royals, and most beer lovers in this town would add Boulevard Brewing to that list.  

“I think Boulevard is, is one with Kansas City,” says Bob Ellis, standing in line for a Boulevard Tank 7, at the Bier Station, in Kansas City.  

Chris Prewitt / KCUR

Legislation that would allow home brewers to bring home-made beer to festivals has passed the Missouri Senate. 

Once upon a time, Anheuser-Busch hopped on the throne as the king of beers. Then, the foam head started to collapse.

So Long, Boulevard Twist-Off Caps

Apr 26, 2012
Herkie / Flickr--CC

Kansas City's Boulevard Brewery is no longer making beers with twist-off caps, reports Brad at the KC Beer Blog. Now all the beers produced by the Midwest’s largest specialty brewer will be capped with more effective, less hand-friendly pry-off tops.