Kansas City Star Reviews Expedition of Thirst

Kansas City Star Reviews Expedition of Thirst

A couple years ago, author Pete Dulin hit the winding roads of eastern Kansas and western Missouri in his red Ford Focus. He visited 150 wineries, distilleries, and breweries to research his fourth book, a travel guide titled Expedition of Thirst. Writer Anne Kniggendorf’s reviewed Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries Across the Heart of Kansas and Missouri for The Kansas City Star.

She shares facets of the book’s dive into the winemaking and grape-growing culture in Kansas and Missouri. Kniggendorf chose this quote of mine that sums up how much there is to explore in Expedition of Thirst which was published by University Press of Kansas.

“We think of wine and terroir in France, but the bi-state area also has these distinct regions and climates and types of soil that will have a significant impact on the flavor and aroma of wine and the grapes that are grown,” Dulin said during a recent phone interview from Thailand, where he was visiting family.

The review shares how I drove more than 2,000 miles across eastern Kansas and western Missouri to visit multiple businesses in a day. After a long day of driving, talking, and tasting wine, beer, and spirits, “taste-bud fatigue” can set in, Kniggendorf wrote.

She cites some of the many off-the-beaten path destination featured in the book, such as Fly Boy Brewery and Eats in Sylvan Grove, Kansas. Those looking for a day trip might consider a jaunt to Columbia, Missouri, where the city has a distillery and multiple breweries.

Kniggendorf does a fine job of capturing the spirit and intent of Expedition of Thirst. It’s a fine, thorough review. Visit the link to read the full review of Expedition of Thirst.

The 288-page book has many color photographs that I shot to accompany the travel guide entries on the 150 breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Signed copies are available by ordering directly from my site. The book is also available at local retailers and major online retailers.

Essay Excerpt: When Kansas Was America’s Napa Valley

Essay Excerpt: When Kansas Was America’s Napa Valley

“When Kansas Was America’s Napa Valley” is the title of an essay I wrote for the series What It Means to Be American, a project by The Smithsonian and Arizona State University in conjunction with Zócalo Public Square.

Los Angeles-based nonprofit Zócalo Public Square, an ASU Knowledge Enterprise Magazine of Ideas, syndicates journalism on its site to media outlets worldwide. Zócalo editor Eryn Brown contacted me in October 2017 and commissioned an essay for the series, What It Means to Be American. After discussion, we decided on a topic that would explore the history of winemaking and grape-growing in Kansas before and after Prohibition. I wrote the essay over a month’s time, building on research I had unearthed while writing Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries across the Heart of Kansas and Missouri.

Below is an introductory excerpt from the essay. Visit the links below to read the entire essay.

When Kansas Was America’s Napa Valley

Located in the northeastern corner of Kansas, Doniphan County’s eastern edge is shaped like a jigsaw puzzle piece, carved away by the flowing waters of the Missouri River. The soil is composed of deep, mineral-rich silty loess and limestone, making it ideal for farming—and, it turns out, for growing grapes and making wine.

California wasn’t always America’s winemaking leader. During the mid-19th century, that distinction went to Kansas and neighboring Missouri, where winemakers and grape-growers led the U.S. wine industry in production. Bold entrepreneurs, industrious Kansas farmers—many of them German-speaking immigrants—produced 35,000 gallons of wine in 1872. That volume jumped more than six-fold by the end of the decade.

But the growth in Kansas’ wine industry (and its sister industry, brewing) coincided with dramatic changes in the state. From 1860 to 1880, Kansas’ population mushroomed from 107,206 to nearly one million people. Kansans battled over slavery in the Kansas-Missouri Border War (1854-1861) and again during the Civil War (1861-1865). Kansas vintners faced a dynamic and challenging moral, social, business, and political climate. The region’s civic and religious leaders railed against the use of alcohol, which they believed contributed to moral decay and spiritual rot, leading them to implement the first statewide prohibition on selling and manufacturing alcohol in the United States in 1881. For more than a century, this ban caused a slowdown from which the Free State’s winemakers are only now beginning to emerge.

Read the entire essay.

http://www.whatitmeanstobeamerican.org/places/when-kansas-was-americas-napa-valley/

http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2018/02/05/kansas-americas-napa-valley/ideas/essay/

Image caption: Still photograph of teetotaler women from the satirical short film Kansas Saloon Smashers (1901), which spoofs the Wichita temperance activist Carrie Nation. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Three Guys and Beers

Three Guys and Beers

I took this photograph at Lawrence Beer Company in late November while I was sampling beers and taking notes for a story. At the moment, I was killing time between beers and took various shots of the tasting room. My attention drifted back to these three guys on my left, who were chatting and sipping on beer on a Thursday afternoon. The amber glow of the sun brought life to their rosy expressions and transformed glasses of beer into ingots of liquid gold. 
 
I didn’t think much about the scene while pressing the shutter-release button. I discreetly pointed the camera, took three shots, and then concentrated on my beer. Later, I edited photos at home for the story but didn’t include this irrelevant shot. Cropped here, it’s the best of the three of them that I snapped.
 
I find myself thinking about this photo and the scene. These three guys, who appeared to be retired, spoke to each other with the closeness of friends. While I didn’t eavesdrop, I heard them mention the Sixties, the time they served in the military, and where they were based. Their old stories seemed fresh in the telling, full of warmth, earned wisdom, and conviction. Exact words eluded me, but their voices were mellow and rounded, even-keeled mostly, passionately delivering a phrase here and there. They spoke without bitterness or anger, any raw edges of yesteryear had been burnished by time.
 
Their words were a form of time travel, bringing the past to the present. Their younger bodies were long abandoned. Their former deeds and experiences, memories uttered as personal truth, carried forward on faint wind flowing from their lungs in patterns that circulated between them.
 
They slid their chairs closer to me after a spell and, later, moved farther away. One man explained with a laugh that they were trying to get out of the path of a sunbeam that temporarily blinded the vision of the guy on the right.
 

I found myself slightly envious of them. They seemed more than drinking buddies. They were at ease in each other’s company, sharing the weight of lives spanning decades that bound them together more than politics or sports on television.

More than once, I’ve observed how beer helps to strengthen bonds between people. Without romanticizing beer itself, I am reminded by this photograph how the ritual of having a beer with others facilitates conversation and connection. Far more powerful than a photograph, these fleeting moments create a time capsule.

Three guys and their beers. It’s a timeless scene. Eventually, the conversation dries up and the glasses empty and it is time to go. Parting ways is not a goodbye. Rather, the parting is a lull between occasions for gathering once again, to share, to drink, to live fully with each brief moment.

 
Enjoy a Hot Scotchy or Hot Worty at Brewery Emperial This Winter

Enjoy a Hot Scotchy or Hot Worty at Brewery Emperial This Winter

In a recent “Tap List” beer column on Flatland, I wrote about a beer cocktail, the Hot Worty, served at Brewery Emperial on brewing days. Similar to a hot toddy, a hot worty (also known as a Hot Scotchy) is made with fresh warm wort from the brewery kettle served with a shot of Scotch whiskey. The article goes into more detail about wort, hot worties, and how master brewer Keith Thompson and chef Ted Habiger, two of Brewery Emperial’s co-owners, first encountered the drink at 75th Street Brewery two decades ago.

The article was edited for length. Here’s more background on the drink and its origins.

Thompson and Habiger first encountered hot wort as a beverage at 75th Street Brewery, where the two friends first met and worked. Artie Tafoya consulted with the owners of 75th Street Brewery during the Nineties. Tafoya introduced hot wort as a drink to 75th Street’s  brewer Tom Ricker and the brewery’s staff.

Brown Ale: History, Brewing Techniques, Recipes by Ray Daniels and Jim Parker further explains the drink’s murky origins.

“The origins of the following ritual are rather sketchy, but the late Russell Scherer is often credited with introducing it to the craft-brewing scene. Jim learned about hot scotchies from Artie Tafoya on a very cold, snowy day when he was brewing at the Hubcap Brewery in Vail, Colorado. The process is very simple. Once you have recirculated and clarified your wort, draw off about a pint of first runnings, leaving enough room in the glass for an ounce of good single malt whisky. Add the Scotch, mix well, and drink. The rich malt sugar of the wort combines wonderfully with the whisky – particularly a peatier Islay or lowland Scotch – to make a delicious warm drink that gives you a nice energy boost during your brew day. A hot scotchie at the beginning of the lauter can help prevent stuck mashes – or at least make them easier to cope with when they occur.”

Kansas Public Radio Review of Expedition of Thirst

Kansas Public Radio Review of Expedition of Thirst

There are a number of independent breweries, wineries and distilleries across Kansas and Missouri.  Author Pete Dulin has been to more than 150 of them in the course of researching his new book, Expedition of Thirst.  Kansas Public Radio commentator Rex Buchanan took a look and turned in this book report.

Listen to the review on Kansas Pubic Radio.

(Transcript)

This is a great time to be a beer drinker.  There are so many high-quality local beers out there, so many brewpubs, keeping up with them is an almost-impossible but highly desirable task.

Fortunately, the University Press of Kansas has just published a guide to the breweries, wineries, and distilleries of eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  Called Expedition of Thirst, it’s by Kansas City writer Pete Dulin.  The book covers more than 150 locations in the two states.  Putting it together, he drove more than 1500 miles.  Researching this book had to be good duty.

Dulin covers all the local breweries he can find.  That includes the Free State Brewing Company here in Lawrence, the granddaddy of the modern brewpub business in Kansas.  Established in 1989, it was the first local brewery in the state since Prohibition, and remains one of the most popular.  Dulin covers other long-time establishments like the Blind Tiger in Topeka, the River City Brewery in Wichita, the Little Apple in Manhattan, and the Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri.

But Dulin doesn’t just cover the older places in the larger towns.  He finds the breweries in little towns, like Sylvan Grove, population 279, and the unincorporated town of Beaver, both out in central Kansas, places that seem too small to support any businesses, let alone a brew pub.  Even if you’re somehow not a beer drinker, this is valuable information, because many of these brewpubs are also good places to eat.

While I claim some hard-won beer expertise, I readily admit that I know far less about wine and spirits.  But Dulin’s book seems just as comprehensive when it comes to wineries and distilleries in both states.  Once again, he covers not just those wineries that you might know about, like the Holy-Field Winery in Basehor, but all sorts of others, like the Smoky Hill Vineyards and Winery north of Salina, the Holladay Distillery in Weston, Missouri, and the Shiloh Vineyard and Winery way out west in WaKeeney.

This book isn’t just a comprehensive guide to all these establishments.  It’s filled with color photos and the story behind each place and its owners.  It includes suggestions of drinks you should try.  The book even has a waterproof cover in case you happen to, uh, spill something on it in the course of your own research.

I know lots of people who brew their own beer and make their own wine.  And some of it is pretty good.  But with all places described in this book, many of them producing incredibly interesting, really drinkable products, it seems like a shame to take a chance on something homemade.  Especially when Pete Dulin has already done much of the work for you.

Kansas and Missouri may have their differences, but this book makes it clear that the two states share common ground on the beer, wine, and distillery front.  I can’t think of a better way to bring us together than by crossing state lines for a cold one.  I know I’m willing to do my part.