The Westport Beer Festival kicks off the first Kansas City Craft Beer Week

The Westport Beer Festival kicks off the first Kansas City Craft Beer Week.


Randyl Danner pulled together the first Kansas City Craft Beer Week. - SABRINA STAIRES
  • Sabrina Staires
  • Randyl Danner pulled together the first Kansas City Craft Beer Week.

Throw out your calendar. The first Kansas City Craft Beer Week doesn't stop at day seven. No, the party ends on day nine, with the conclusion of Boulevardia, Boulevard Brewing Co.'s supersize weekend festival of beer, food and music in the West Bottoms.

Before we punch our tickets to Boulevardia, though, we have a lot of craft beer to drink, starting Saturday with the fourth-annual Westport Beer Festival.

That block party, featuring 42 breweries and more than 130 beers, runs from 5 to 9 p.m. in front of McCoy's Public House (4057 Pennsylvania) and stretching to the old Beaumont Club. It's the festival's biggest incarnation yet, with 2,000 tickets available. And whereas the Westport Beer Festival in the past has focused on summertime brews, this year's lets in the other seasons.

"We've expanded it a little bit because we felt like we were missing out on really great beers," says Randyl Danner, Beer KC's director of beer. "We're going to have some goodies out there for the novice and the proficient beer drinker."

Expect Stone 11.11.11 and 12.12.12; Boulevard's Saison-Brett 2013 and 2014; and kegs from Boulevardia presenters Pretty Things, Jolly Pumpkin and Cambridge Brewing Co.

Sporting Kansas City players are lined up to make cameos, and there's a beer on the way that you'll want to drink out of the MLS Cup.

"We will be sampling some of the Championship Ale," Danner says, referring to the Sporting Kansas City and Boulevard collaboration.

Due to a boiler failure that shut down its brewing operation for two weeks, McCoy's won't have a special-to-the-festival brew. Instead, it's tapping a keg of blackberry tart, and a salted-watermelon randalled Gose.

"We're trying to find some cool ways to do things, even though we couldn't do a specific beer for the fest," Danner says.

Westport Beer Fest tickets cost $30 in advance ($35 day of) and include a tasting glass and unlimited pours while they last. Also, look for food tents from Sama Zama, Port Fonda and McCoy's.

Once the Westport Beer Festival wraps up, Kansas City Craft Beer Week gets properly under way, with 17 events leading up to Boulevardia.

The idea of a Kansas City Craft Beer Week had been discussed for several years, but Danner has finally put the pieces together.

"When we realized that Boulevardia was the weekend after our beer festival and all of these big-name breweries were coming into town, for me personally it seemed like it would be the perfect week to have a celebration of craft beer, the boom in Kansas City of American craft beer, and the amazing different venues that are serving and preserving the integrity of Kansas City and national craft beer," she says. "It seemed like a really great time to launch a week where it starts with a beer festival and ends with a beer festival."

With craft breweries from across the country coming to KC, Danner set about finding venues where she could book tap takeovers, tastings, dinners and video-game nights.

"I wanted to make sure that the venues that have been around are the main ones involved," Danner says. "Flying Saucer, Bier Station, Waldo Pizza - these places have been serving great craft beer for years now, or at least a year, and they deserve to have some really great breweries come in and have some really cool events around those breweries."

For example, Flying Saucer's schedule includes Nebraska Brewing Co. on June 9, the debut of Spiegelau's stout glass (paired with Left Hand Brewing Co.'s milk stout) on June 10, a Crooked Stave glass night on June 11, and a Deschutes Abyss night on June 12.

Barley's Brewhaus in Shawnee is combining video games with Stone Brewing on June 10. Waldo Pizza taps a keg of the much-coveted Founders KBS on June 11. And Julian cooks up a beer dinner with Sierra Nevada on June 12.

Meanwhile, Boulevard takes over taps at Bier Station on June 9, at the Rusty Horse Tavern on June 10, and - with collaborating brewery Cambridge - at Beer Kitchen on June 11.

Bridger's Bottle Shop is where Founders Brewing Co. has its beer brunch on June 8. Bridger's is also doing a Lagunitas beer-and-food pairing on June 9 and a Nebraska Brewing Co. tasting on June 10.

"I really want the beer drinkers of Kansas City to get out there and meet the people who are responsible for making that beer," Danner says. "For example, Karen [King] with Deschutes and one of the brewers from Deschutes will be at Flying Saucer tapping some Abyss, which is an amazing opportunity to get out there and talk to the people who live on the West Coast and are brewing amazing beer."

She adds: "Doug Odell from Odell Brewing will be here at the Foundry Friday the 13th to do a happy-hour meet-and-greet. Will Meyers from Cambridge Brewing is going to be doing a collaboration tap takeover at Beer Kitchen. Will Meyers is an amazing, brilliant brewer who creates all of these different flavors and really showcases the raw materials and what you can do to manipulate beer."

If Danner sounds excited, well, that's because she is.

"It's just a celebration of craft beer in Kansas City and the places that offer the amazing craft beers," she says. "It should be a really fun, whirlwind of a week."

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