Travel Stories · Signifiers

Overdue KC Props — The Foundry, Beer Kitchen and Oklahoma Joe's

Back in August, I spent a couple of days in Kansas City with my fiance. We flew down to meet our wedding photographer, Steven Michael, and shot a couple of sessions. I scouted a few locations for a beer-related setting, and after checking out the local scene we found our way to the The Foundry. This space is incredible.

Attached to McCoy’s Public House, a brewpub and anchor of the beer scene in KC’s Westport neighborhood, The Foundry is the dive bar counterpoint to McCoy’s more austere ambiance. 

In addition to serving McCoy’s mainstream portfolio of beers (Raspberry Wheat pictured), The Foundry comes heavy with Belgians, collaborations and serious big beers. Well represented was Goose Island (Sophie, Matilda, etc.) as well as some West Coast standouts like Deschutes, and of course Kansas City’s own Boulevard from which I derived the Bully Porter, the first Boulevard a couple years ago.

Perusing the “Captain’s Log,” I was psyched to find the Deschutes/Boulevard collab, a White IPA which each brewery tweaked from a shared recipe and released separately. Deschutes’ version, called Conflux No. 2, finished dry and piney, leaning toward the IPA side of things, while Boulevard’s version, called Collaboration No. 2, is a bit more tea-like, smooth and subtle. 

After a great evening of big beer discovery, I was able to chat with the manager about the photo shoot. Not only were they happy to offer their space for Hillary and I, but they opened it early so we could have the run of the place the following day. We covered every inch of the place, from behind the bar to the loft (which looks like a groovy parent’s basement form the 70s), the table-top gaming and the library. There are so many niches in The Foundry that it could serve as a film set.  

Engagement photos taken by Steven Michael. More here.

The next day we brunched at Beer Kitchen, another establishment owned by McCoy’s across the street. With it’s bright, diner-esque vibe, Beer Kitchen focused on the food as much as the massive beer list, again anchored by Boulevard, but also some midwestern bright spots like Bells and Founders

Alongside an epic plate of chicken and waffles I had a Boulevard Nommo Dubbel (released that day), with a deep amber color and sweet caramel malts. And thanks to it’s doses of coriander, cinnamon, and clove, it melds beautifully with a maple-syrup-covered melee at 10 in the morning.  

And finally, our last evening in KC ended where most people begin - at Oklahoma Joe’s. A BBQ joint housed in a gas station on the Kansas side of things, Oklahoma Joe’s is likely the death of a good number of people each year and holds a spot on Anthony Bourdain’s “13 places to eat before you die” list. I loaded up with “The Cowboy” based on a local recommendation, complete with brisket, ribs, onion rings and such. 

With such an imposing tower of meat in front of me, I was happy to have a lighter beer option in the form of Boulevard’s prohibition-style Pilsner. Harkening back to KC’s better beer days, the Pilsner is Boulevard’s answer to decades of North American lager consolidation that all but eliminated KC’s beer industry. Even among standards like Bud Light, Miller Lite and Coors Light, it was Boulevard’s Pilsner topping most tables in the joint. 

All in all, KC proved to be a Boulevard-induced haze of incredible beers — a great discovery considering that they’ve just started distributing in Chicago in the past year. Otherwise we’d be forced to get it KC bootlegger style. 

Michael Kiser