The Sunflower State
Kansas was the state with a great potential in the craft beer industry; that was until the idea of Prohibition began circulating. In the mid 1800s brewing was huge in Kansas with 90 breweries and being the 4th largest industry in the state. This was largely due to the number of German immigrants that came and brought their brewing customs and methods with them.
After so many began associating alcohol with violence, John St. John was elected as the governor in 1879 and enacted an early Prohibition in Kansas in 1881. Not only did Kansas have about a 40-year head start on the Prohibition compared to all other states, it also lasted 15 years longer than everywhere else continuing until 1948. Had this not happened, the oldest Kansas breweries could have been over 150 years old, but instead, the oldest still in existence has been around for just over 30 years.
After the Prohibition finally ended in Kansas there were still plenty of rules in place. In fact, 40 more years went on before the state allowed any alcohol to be sold on premises, which was finally allowed in 1986. The first brewery to officially open after all this chaos was Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence. It was opened by Chuck Magerl in 1989, which put Kansas over a decade behind the emerging beer scene in the rest of America.
Thankfully, Kansas is no longer a dry state, with a ton of new breweries emerging and making plans to grow. As of 2015 there were more than 30 breweries in Kansas, producing over 36,000 barrels of craft beer each year, and bringing in over $383 million.
The state is still making adaptations to the Kansas beer laws to keep up with the rest of the country. For instance, in 2017 grocery and convenience stores were allowed to begin selling beer with an ABV up to 6%. Prior to 2017, beer sold had to be under 3.2%. Drinking establishments have also been permitted to serve alcohol between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m.
A few Kansas beer festivals exist nowadays, including: the Kansas City beer fest, the Kansas craft beer festival, and Kansas craft beer week. The Kansas City beer fest features more than 200 craft beers, live music, and more in the Power and Lights District in Kansas City. The Kansas craft beer fest usually referred to as the Kansas craft brewers exposition is hosted in Lawrence Kansas. Last but not least, Kansas craft beer week usually goes from the end of March to the beginning of April and features tappings and tastings of the state's finest beers.
Kansas City beer is known for being extremely popular. Some of the best Kansas City craft beers come from the Kansas City breweries: Casual Animal Brewing Company, Rockcreek Brewing Company, Boulevard Brewing, Border Brewing Company, Strange Days Brewing Company, Nimble Brewing, Torn Label Brewing Company, Brewery Emperial Double Shift Brewing, and Stockyards Brewing.
The best beer from Kansas comes from the Kansas breweries: Central Standard Brewing, Walnut River Brewing Company, Norsemen Brewing Company, salt City Brewing Company, Indy Brew Works, Happy Basset Brewing Company, Hopping Gnome Brewery, Pathlight Brewing, and Rockcreek Brewing.
We look forward to featuring more of the Sunflower State's craft beers in our monthly craft beer club!