Free State Brewing Company
One of the Midwest's pioneer breweries
An award-winning brewpub located in the heart of downtown Lawrence, Kansas, Free State Brewing Company was founded in 1989 as the first brewery in Kansas in over a century. Today, aside from the town’s University of Kansas campus, Free State may be Lawrence’s most popular attraction with over fifteen beers on tap and a full-fledged restaurant that appeals to a range of customers - from college students to senior citizens.
Owner and founder Chuck Magerl found his way into the beer industry while in college when he picked up homebrewing in an effort to drink the freshest beer possible. He was also fascinated by the history of brewing in Kansas and learned that in 1880, the state became the first to have constitutional prohibition. It inspired Chuck to experiment further with brewing and he even ended up in California taking brewing classes at the University of California, Davis. When he returned to Kansas, Chuck made it his mission to get the law changed and legalize breweries by lobbying the state legislature.
When Free State Brewing Company opened its doors in 1989, it was one of only two microbreweries between Chicago, Illinois and Denver, Colorado. Chuck hired Steve Bradt as an assistant brewer, who today serves as the company’s Brewmaster, and Free State was on its way. The first beer they brewed, the Ad Astra Ale, continues to be a flagship and one of the brewery’s most popular offerings today.
When Chuck isn’t at Free State, he’s busy continuing his education of all things beer in an effort to keep his brewery evolving. Since opening the brewery, Chuck has judged at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup; he holds the rank of National Judge with the Beer Judge Certification Program; he serves as President of the Kansas Craft Brewers Guild, and he is a Brewers Association board member on the events committee. His passion and dedication can be tasted in each of Free State’s handcrafted brews.
Over the past 27 years, Free State Brewing Company has become a haven for beer lovers as well as a top craft brewery in the Midwest. Its lively downtown location offers a great setting for sampling the wide range of award-winning beer styles along with a tasty menu of food items to complement.