Think the Midwest is strictly full of “flyover” states? Think again. Hometown brewers are helping to change the perception of Middle America, adding a dose of hops and barley to the cornfield stereotype. Below are our five top picks for Midwest events this summer.
Kansas City, Missouri
The historic West Bottoms neighborhood becomes its own breakaway republic for Father’s Day weekend, hosting a one-of-a-kind beer, music and food festival. The event is headlined by Boulevard Brewing, but includes more than 40 other breweries, some of them bringing beers exclusively designed for the event. Boulevardia is a rich experience that offers multiple packages, including a Father’s Day BBQ, a series of long distance bike rides, and a private space to experience the festivities. Check out the live bands and, between sets, explore the Makers Market, a shopping experience dedicated to locally produced goods.
Two Brothers has a unique take on their rare bottle release party. They turn it into a beer tasting and music festival and use it as a charity fundraiser. This year’s release of Hop Centric Double IPA raises money for Make-A-Wish Foundation® and Friends of Fisher House Illinois. Dawes headlines the Friday night show, and Jason Isbell tops the marque Saturday night. Two Brothers releases archive beers throughout the event, and taps beers not found locally at the special Guest Beer tent.
Michigan is the reigning king of Midwest craft beer, for good reason—the Michigan Brewers Guild is rock solid, with a nearly two-decade history of promoting Michigan brewers. The Summer Beer Festival is the oldest of the guild’s four annual festivals and it showcases more than 800 beers from 80 of the mitten-state’s breweries. Michigan incubates great beer and given its track record, there’s a good bet that the next hot brewery will come out of the state. Check our Michigan craft beer guide to determine which established breweries are must tries. Then, rove around, hunting for as-of-yet undiscovered superstars.
Beer and baseball are summer hallmarks, so why not a beer festival located in a stadium? The Great Nebraska Beer Fest returns to Werner Park, the home of the Kansas City Royals Triple-A farm team, the Omaha Storm Chasers. The event couples Nebraska’s best brewers with beers from neighboring states like Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Splurge for the VIP pass and get early access before the crowd. And apparently, a goat is involved somehow.
Okay, so we cheated a bit on this one because it’s fairly late in the “summer,” but we did so with good reason: so that you can get this festival on your calendar now. The event, which raises money for the Resident Home Association, has a singular format: beers that are big and rare. But don’t let its simplicity fool you—Big Beers and Barley Wines is one of the Midwest’s largest collections of hard-to-find brews. Look for multiple vintages of English barleywines, casks of limited release beers, and timed tastings of truly rare gems. Mmm, you can really taste the rarity!