Opened December 12, 1998 in the small college town of Parkville, Missouri The Power Plant brings craft beer to Kansas City's north side. Initial brews will be made at River Market brewpub which is under the same ownership. Early problems with the roof-mounted boiler seem ironic since boilers were the specialty of the previous business in this location. Four immense steam boilers once resided in the building that now houses the brewpub. These devices provided the electrical power to the nearby private Parkville College. Only one Kewanee Firebox Boiler remains in place today. It's situated right behind the bar and sports two set of tap handles that now bring forth a different kind of power. Around this massive piece of iron work stands the L-shaped bar, lacquered on top with an iron foot rail below. The center of the open room is the lounge area with wooden tables and chairs surrounded by old and new steel I-beams supporting the current structure vertically and horizontally. Booth seating lines the red brick walls with framed black & white prints showing scenes from Parkville's heyday when it offered an optimum location for railroads to cross the Missouri River to Kansas City. Even today the railroads still influence life here. Every time a train passes by within 10 feet of the brewpub the brewhouse rumbles enough to cause a Californian trepidation. The complete JV Northwest brewing system is visible at the front entrance and from outside. The copper Mash Tun and Boil Kettle are joined by three stainless steel fermenters. The 636 gallon (20 bbl) capacity of the system should keep Parkville's inhabitants and visitors alike well-supplied with craft beer. Upstairs offers more seating with a view of the sacked grain supply and of activities down below. Two stories of large windows help create a light and airy atmosphere as well as offer uncommon views of the lumbering freight trains passing within a coaster's throw. When warm weather returns the second floor deck will offer an even better vantage point.
Although the looks are impressive, all is not for show. The recipes are finalized for the food and the beers. The Colonel Park's Pale Ale is amber-colored with a thick white head, great hoppy flavor (Columbus hops), and a light maltiness and medium body. Maybe not a traditional IPA but certainly one solid pale ale. The Walnut Creek Wheat appears a hazy straw color and yields a clean light-bodied beer with a tangy wheat flavor and slightly sweet finish. A nice American-style wheat. The Southbound Nut Brown and Steamboat Stout are still the works and the River Market Red is on hand as a guest beer. Standard 16-ounce pints run $3 while 20-ounce glasses are $3.75 and a sampler of three 5-ounce tastes is $6. For the non-beer crowd a full liquor selection is available as are Bud and Coors lights. The food aspect of the operation appears well represented with a wide variety treats. Starters run $4 to $8 and include pretzels and beer-battered shrimp; six varieties of Pizza are on hand for $8; Soups & Salads range from $4 to $8; Sandwiches are $6 to $8 and focus on meat; BBQ features more meat but with special sauces; Pub Favorites run $8 to $17 and include the traditional and the local, such as Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash and Kansas City Strip.
Update: Possibly the only brewpub involved in a train wreck, the PowerPlant has had its outdoor deck repaired and the warm weather brings out crowds of up to 75 people to sit in the plastic lawn furniture and toast the frequent freight trains passing nearby. Brewer Matt Morris has added some flavorful additions to the beer lineup. The Bitter is medium-bodied with a hoppy aroma and bitterness. The Belgian is dark amber with a full mouthfeel, and dry but complex malty flavor. Growlers are now available for $10 initially and $8 for refills, while pint are specially priced at $1.50 after PM.
Although still too soon to predict the nature of future visitors, the current atmosphere is upbeat and comfortable, with four silent TVs overshadowed by the Rock & Roll tunes. Smoking is allowed in the bar and lounge areas but the open ceiling mitigates smoke problems. Souvenir merchandise includes shirts, caps and soon, growlers. The great theme matched with good food and drinks should make the Power Plant an attractive destination for anyone in the Kansas City metro area. Just follow the river and look for the smokestack.
The Power Plant Restaurant & Brewery
Two Main Street
Parkville, MO 64152
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - December, 1998; Updated June, 1999
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