Manhattan vs. Lawrence: The Beer Wars

Even Mizzou fans will drink this stuff – under cover of darkness.

The rivalry between the Kansas college towns of Lawrence (home of the Kansas Jayhawks) and Manhattan (home of the Kansas State Wildcats) has gone on for more than 100 years. Each year in the spring the Wildcats can look forward to a ritual spanking of their sacrificial basketball team courtesy of the Jayhawks, and every fall the Jayhawks can look forward to a pimping on the gridiron from their purple rivals.

So you knew it would only be a matter of time before their rivalry would extend to one of the passions of the Kansans: beer. Lawrence’s Free State Brewing Company and Manhattan’s Tallgrass Brewing Company are both churning out some fine suds to enjoy while watching the hometown teams battle it out.

Tallgrass beers are notable for the distinctive colors and artwork on their cans, and frequently they are one of the few beers found in cans when you’re perusing the craft brew section of your local liquor stores. And while some beers may disguise their low quality with clever packaging (see our RANT and RAVE post),

Have a couple Tallgrasses next time you’re in Manhattan. It makes the drive through Junction City less painful.

Tallgrass is not among them. Tallgrass produces a flavorful and refreshing IPA, ale, and stout among its offerings. The stout, known as Buffalo Sweat, is my favorite. Roasty and slightly sweet, I’m dying to try this baby over a couple scoops of ice cream.

Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence has been around a good piece longer than Tallgrass, opening its doors in 1989. For most of that time its beers were only available at the company’s brewpub on Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence. The company only recently began selling its beers in bottles at area liquor stores. Among its offerings are the Ad Astra Ale, Copperhead Pale Ale and Oatmeal Stout. Ad Astra provides a nice blend of maltiness and hoppiness. My favorite is the Copperhead. I’m not normally a fan of hoppy beers, and this one made be nervous because of the IMAGE of HOPS on the outside of the bottle, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a beer not at all as hoppy as advertised.

Not going to give the edge to either brewery here, primarily because I’m too much of a pussy to piss off my KU and K-State friends. But this is one rivalry that us beer drinkers are going to get the benefit of for many years.

4 Beer Bobs for each brewery. Yeah, I know I’m a wimp. You don’t need to say it.

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