A Snapshot of Brewing
KC Ale Trail originated as an idea for a book, but its spirit extends far beyond the printed page. I conceived of an idea for a book in January 2014 that would capture a snapshot of craft brewing in Kansas City. The 25th anniversary of Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, Missouri, and Free State Brewing in Lawrence, Kansas, occurred that year and provided inspiration. The milestone prompted me to consider the breweries that had opened and still operated since 1989 in both cities. The book’s scope gradually expanded to profile 23 breweries in Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri, and in Lawrence, Topeka, and Manhattan, Kansas.
Seven years later, KC Ale Trail‘s publication is now a historical document of that stage of modern craft brewing in the region. Several breweries, such as Border Brewing, had barely opened when the book (out of print) reached readers in November 2014. Crane Brewing had yet to open in Raytown, Missouri, but their profile explored the story of co-founders Michael Crane and Chris Meyers. Beers of note listed included Magenta, the precursor of Beet Berliner Weiss.
Other breweries have closed since 2014 – long-gone brewpubs 75th Street Brewery, McCoy’s Public House, Rock and Run Brewery and Pub, and Tallgrass Brewing Company to name a few. Most breweries persevered, such as Martin City Brewing, Kansas City Bier Company, and Cinder Block Brewery, expanded into distribution, and built a devoted following. Waves of other breweries have opened in Kansas City, surrounding suburbs, and cities and towns across Missouri and Kansas.
The Story Continues
The ongoing growth of local and regional craft brewing deserves dedicated coverage. That mission remains true. However, the notion of producing an updated second edition of KC Ale Trail in book form didn’t move the needle. I didn’t want to create another book that would become outdated as soon as it was published. Instead, the idea of building a niche online magazine and resource about local craft beer and its community and culture held greater appeal. Formerly a book promotion website, kcaletrail.com enters a new chapter to better serve our craft brewing community.
I’ve written about local breweries, beers, craft beer trends, and even the business of brewing for numerous publications. My stories have appeared in Feast, Kansas City Magazine, The Kansas City Star, River Front Times, AFAR, and elsewhere. I wrote the Tap List column for Flatland for several years, and have published two additional books (Kansas City Beer, Expedition of Thirst) about local and regional breweries. I will continue to write for other publications. However, this new incarnation of kcaletrail.com provides a dedicated source for fans of local craft beer.
The focus of kcaletrail.com is to share more in-depth news, storytelling, and insight to subscribers about local craft beer. Over time, the site will feature content that offers approachable knowledge about craft beer to broaden the audience. Readers will learn about what we’re drinking, how it’s made, and the history behind craft beer. The goal is to also further build on inclusivity and reflect the diversity of the community. That’s the vision.
Some stories and features on kcaletrail.com will be available only to subscribers. Other content will be free initially. More details to come about subscriptions that will be affordably-priced at a nominal monthly or annual rate. Your support as a subscribe helps to underwrite the costs and significant time involved to research, produce, and publish original content.
On a more personal level, another goal of kcaletrail.com is to reflect the local community and culture of craft beer. Where it has been, where it stands now, and where it might grow. Beer is social. We gather over beers to share good news and commiserate during tough times. We gain new friends along the way. We’ve also lost friends in the craft brewing community, such as Rodney Beagle. His unexpected death in April of 2021 served as yet more motivation to develop KC Ale Trail into something more meaningful. During a celebration of life for Rodney, two brewers confided how important it was for someone to write about craft breweries. They expressed gratitude for the stories about the beers, the breweries, collaborations, and the community that has formed over the past decade. That feedback struck a chord and further shapes the future of kcaletrail.com.
The story continues about local craft brewing, the people in the industry, and the people who form that community. With your support, kcaletrail.com will be a resource, time capsule, and a place for those stories about local craft beer and its culture and community.
Pete Dulin is the founder and editor of kcaletrail.com. His most recent book is Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries Across Central Kansas and Missouri. Pete’s other books include Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail (out of print), and Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City’s Best Chefs and Cooks.