At the 75th Street Brewery crowds in the lounge and dining areas constantly keep the staff hustling. Red brick walls combine with painted yellow plaster to host decoration that include hanging beer label posters and long strung lamps draped from the painted ducting. The street front windows are lined with a dozen tall tables and matching stools that accommodate the lounge crowd. The long bar features two six-tap towers pouring the house beers. Overhead, silent TVs offer visual entertainment while a CD sound system provides the background music. The non-smoking seating portion of the dining area is expansive and covers the left half of the building and the rear of the room. The upstairs "nest" is reservable for private parties. Overall, the layout is wheelchair accessible.
The brewhouse is literally the centerpiece of this operation, it stands glass-walled, in the center of the large split-level room. The brews start life in the second-story loft above the bar, overlooking all activities below. Here the bags of two-row Briess malts are opened and fed to the mill just below. Once ground the grains are again elevated via a flexible auger that carries the grist across the ceiling and down into the brewhouse. There, the hydrator attachment mounts to the 90 gallon Mash Tun of the Specific Mechanical system to blend water with the incoming grains. Assistant Brewer Shay Baker reports that city water analysis data is reviewed monthly and normal pH adjustments involve an acid treatment while hardness is tweaked using Calcium Chloride. All brews but the Wheat see a single temperature step infusion mash, the Wheat gets two steps. After recirculation via the detachable Grant it's on to the boil step. The 410 gallon stainless steel Brew Kettle features copper bands that ring its top, bottom, and mid-section. After the boil a whirlpool draw solids into a cone at the center of the vessel's conical bottom so the hot wort can be passed through the plate heat exchanger. Oxygen is added as the chilled wort feeds to either of two 370 gallon or two 676 gallon fermenters. The single yeast strain used has served well for the last four years. Cyclic acid washing of the yeast keeps things pure and doesn't seem to wear them down. Following fermentation the beer heads to the six seven-barrel Grundy conditioning tanks and then later to the six serving tanks, all located in a cold room visible behind the bar. Two 14-barrel conditioning tanks are also available for the Wheat beers. Only the lighter beers see filtering prior to serving. Carbonation takes place in the serving vessels via forced CO2. Serving gases are a custom mix of Nitrogen (N2) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). For the cask-conditioned special a half-barrel keg pulled from the conditioning tank gets a dose of dry malt to provide the food for the yeast to carbonate the finished beer in the vessel that it will be served from. Certain beers such as the Gold and IPA benefit from dry hopping in the conditioning or serving tanks. Others get their bittering and aromatics from pellets and whole leaf hops respectively.
The growing line of mugs over the bar is a sign of the popularity of the Mug Club. For $10 members receive one free growler refill and pints at $2.50, $1.75 on Mondays. Happy hour runs Monday through Friday, 4 to 6 p.m. and all beers are $1.75 per pint, while appetizers are half-priced. Tuesdays present the challenge of the Mystery Beer. Here, a keg of brew from the past is tapped and customers try to guess which beer it is. A four ounce sampler tray of all available beers is available for $3.25 while for $8, $7 per refill, half-gallon plastic growlers are available. It seems the Kansas City city government recently decided that glass growlers should be outlawed to protect its citizens. Like most alcohol-related prohibitions logic plays no role. Glass growlers sold five miles to the west, just across the Kansas border, may be "refilled" in Missouri without difficulty.
The Cowtown Wheat is a clear gold color with a light body accompanied by delicate hops and a sweet wheat flavor. The Yardbird Golden Ale is amber with a pronounced Cascade hop flavor and dry finish. The Possum Trot Brown Ale is a dark brown with a malty aroma and flavor, smooth creamy body, and overall nice malt character. The Brewers Special Scottish is a clear ruby color with a flavor that starts smoky but transitions to malty sweet. The other Brewers Special, the Oatmeal Stout has a fine head and lace. The very smooth mouthfeel is matched to a creamy body and underlying, mellow roasted flavor. Very nice! The Muddy Mo' Stout has a creamy head with a medium body, very smooth mouthfeel, and nice, dry malty character. The cask-conditioned Porter is light-bodied with a mellow chocolate flavor and clean, dry finish. The Royal Raspberry Wheat is gold in color with an intense raspberry aroma, moderate fruity flavor matched to an even malt/hop flavor balance and finishes cleanly. The Special IPA is a very nice medium-bodied beer. True to style, it offers good underlying maltiness and plenty of hop bitterness. The 9% Bahhum Bock is a Doppel and served in its own small glassware. Ruby-colored, a rich malty aroma and flavor is followed by a dry, alcoholic finish and great aftertaste. The seasonal Mai Bock is amber in color and big-bodied, with a low carbonation, complex raisin-sweet flavor and dry finish.
The food menu offers as much of a draw as the beer line-up. Soups and Salads range from $1.95 to $9; sandwiches are $6 to $8; Pizzas $6.50 to $8.50; and Pasta & brewpub Favorites $7 to $17. Appetizers range from $3.50 to $8.50 and the perfect accompaniment to a sampler tray of beers is a salad combined with soup served in a fresh loaf of bread.
Happy hour runs 4 to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday and features $1.75 pints and half-price appetizers. Get there early to get a seat because the after-work crowd fills things up early, especially on Fridays.
With the addition of Michael Snyder as K.C. Hopps corporate brewmaster there has been the infusion of years of experience with lager brewing techniques. The impact is gradually being felt across the beer spectrum at 75th Street and the corporations latest acquisition, Emerson Biggons in Lawrence, Kansas. The latest incarnation of the house IPA appears a dense amber color with a hops-over-malt flavor balance. Both flavor components are pronounced but neither are harsh. This medium-bodied brew delivers an even dry/sweet malty character in the presence of a very palatable hops. The 75th Street Amber is a dark amber in appearance with a thick tan head, medium body and malt-over-hops balance. Clean and dry, this amber is easy-drinking.
The 75th Street Brewery
520 W. 75th Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64114
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - May, 1998, January, 1999 & August 2004
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