Cris Morgan has been a brewer at Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company since 2011. Before joining the brewing family known for beers like 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat, Tank 7 American Saison, and Space Camper Cosmic IPA, Morgan worked for 75th Street Brewery in KC — growing his expertise and expanding his craft beer knowledge.
Though Morgan joined Boulevard in 2011, the brewery has been cranking out high-quality beers since the 1980s. As with most contemporary beer-crazy cities, there was little to no craft beer scene back in those days. Decades later, the KC scene — from breweries to bars, to brewpubs — is thriving. Boulevard, with its range of lagers, ales, IPAs, and stouts, might be its epicenter, but Kansas City is definitely a beer lover’s city and a “must stop” on any Midwest beer tour.
This week, we chatted with Morgan about the beer scene in his beloved Kansas City. Let’s take a tour!
Favorite Classic Brewery – STOCKYARDS BREWING COMPANY
Stockyards Brewing Co. is located in a historic part of Kansas City known as the West Bottoms. Although they only opened in 2016, they’ve been successful in combining Kansas City history with, tasty, and consistent beers. And whether it’s a bluegrass band or a local DJ, it’s a great spot to check out live music.
Favorite Experimental Brewery – CINDER BLOCK BREWERY
Cinder Block Brewery has a wide assortment of well-made beers ranging from barrel-aged whiskey stouts to French Ciders and KC Weiss. It’s located in the up and coming River North area and garners an eclectic audience of beer lovers.
Favorite Neighborhood Brewery – BKS ARTISAN ALES
BKS Artisan Ales is the definition of neighborhood brewery. They have a respectable selection of small-batch and experimental drafts with packaged beers sold exclusively from their tasting room.
Favorite Bottle/Can Shop – GOMER’S FINE WINE & SPIRITS
I usually go to Gomer’s Fine Wine & Spirits because they’re locally owned, carry a lot of Boulevard, and always have a varied selection of styles available. Walking into a store that’s locally owned with a dedicated team makes all of the difference in purchasing a beer.
Favorite Beer Bar (that’s not a brewery) – BIER STATION
Bier Station is a versatile beer bar where you can order from one of 28 taps, pull packaged beer from the cooler to drink in-house, or buy beer to go. They were one of the original beer bars in Kansas City, and have put a lot of philanthropic support into civic interests.
Favorite Dive for Beer – THE PEANUT
The original “The PEANUT” is a favorite local dive. They have the best chicken wings! Most of the time, if you go to the Peanut it’s to drink a bunch of beer, eat some wings, and you’re likely to come away with a story. The BLTs are also amazing, and it’s a great place to watch a game with a Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat.
Favorite Hotel Bar for Beer – THE CROSSROADS HOTEL
The Crossroads Hotel just opened around the corner from Boulevard and is a beautiful addition to our city. They’ve reimagined the hotel lobby bar, called XR, and turned it into a comfortable place to grab a drink, meet with friends, or grab some food before going out. They also have the Percheron, a rooftop beer garden with indoor and outdoor seating and amazing views of the city. It’s been a favorite of many Boulevardians this summer.
Favorite (Fancy) Restaurant for Beer – THE RIEGER
The Rieger, which opened in 1915 and still has some of the original tiling and fixtures, is home to one of the most talented chefs in the Kansas City area, Howard Hanna. Their menu is always evolving and always includes something to pair with a Tank 7. Also, under the restaurant, there is a speakeasy called Manifesto that is cool as shit.
Favorite Place To Eat Pizza and Drink Beer – WALDO PIZZA
Waldo Pizza has been a neighborhood cornerstone for excellent pizza with a vast and everchanging beer selection for many years. It’s my neighborhood and sometimes too easy to pick up on my way home from the brewery.
Favorite Brewery/Taproom Run By A Friend – BREWERY EMPERIAL
Keith Thompson and Sterling Holman at Brewery Emperial are old friends with whom I’ve always enjoyed talking all things beer. We’ve all worked together in the past, but I really love what they are doing now with their brewery. They are making beers that are solidly brewed to style and provide delicious wood-fired food in a unique indoor dining area or urban beer garden.