Local Beer Local Soccer: Middle of America – Red Stick Outlaws Take On Kansas City
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
By Blake Winchell
In full openness, I am not a local to Kansas City. I live in Baton Rouge, LA. However, Kansas City was the closest that the USMNT was playing to my hometown and so my father and I decided to take a trip to the Heartland. When I travel I really try to not hit up Chili’s for food or drink Bud Light, so I think my trip will work for a "Local Beer Local Soccer" write up.
We left Baton Rouge early on Tuesday morning arriving in Kansas City around 10:15 and got into our rental car. For the one lunch we had in KC we were going to one place, Oklahoma Joe’s for BBQ. Both of us opted for brisket sandwiches (the Z Man Sandwich) which lived up to the hype, but what was exciting for me is that in this gas station BBQ joint there was the first taste of local beer on tap: Boulevard Wheat. While an amber or IPA may go better with BBQ, it was unusually warm in KC and still before noon so the unfiltered wheat beer was a nice start to our trip. Boulevard boasts that their Wheat is the bestselling craft beer in the Midwest and it is not hard to taste why. An easy drinking ale but still packs the flavor that will entice craft beer drinkers.
From there we took a trip to Lukas Liquors so that I could make a beer haul so that we could bring some local beer back to Baton Rouge. I picked up bombers from Doodle Brewing, Boulevard Brewing, and Weston Brewing (all Kansas City breweries) along with beers from other regional breweries that I cannot find in Louisiana. (Editor's Note: Also make sure to check out Tallgrass Brewing if you're in the KC-area) If you live in Kansas City you probably have been to Lukas Liquors before, but if you are a traveler like me looking for a nice one stop shop for beer this is the place for you.
Now it was time for soccer. After checking in to our hotel which was a stone’s throw away from Livestrong Sporting Park, we took a short walk over to the American Outlaw’s tailgate. Since we were travelers we did not bring an ice chest, so I was excited to see that there were kegs at the tailgate. I was slightly less excited when I was told that it was 5 dollars all you can drink. In my experience 5 dollars for all you can drink beer tends to be all you can drink terrible beer. However, the Kansas City boys brought more Boulevard Brewing, which was great. Four varieties of Boulevard were available which made tailgating so much better. Drinking a Boulevard Oktoberfest (FBM's "Beer of the Game" recommendation over at Stars and Stripes FC) is always better than Natty Lite.
Tailgating for any sport is relatively the same: drinking, cooking, music, etc. I had never tailgated for a soccer game like this before. Soccer pong (that’s what I am calling it) was a new lawn game that we had to try. Think beer pong with soccer balls and trash cans, looks easy but it is much more difficult than expected especially when you are taking full advantage of AYCD Boulevard. There was also a dunk tank that revelers were shooting a soccer ball at; needless to say the pour guy in the dunk tank was not getting wet very often.
We had tickets in the American Outlaw section, which was general admission, so we waited for the group to march to the stadium. If you get to do this before a game, it is a great experience. Marching a fourth of a mile or so chanting and singing was a nice warm up before getting into the stands. Many of the Sporting KC supporters were in our section which was nice, because everyone was on the same page with the singing and chanting. I have only been to one USMNT game before this one so I am a little green when it comes to many of the chants. So I am unsure if the chants and songs the supporters were singing were US specific or Sporting KC specific but they all worked, especially cheering “You’re not going to Brazil” when Guatemala was warming up (and throughout most of the game). I was too amped up during the game to leave the stands to purchase more beer, however my neighbor was polite enough to buy a beer for me.
I don’t think he was entirely too pleased with the beer options, as it was a mass produced lite lager, but for me it was free. Upon leaving the stadium after the win I saw the beer stand and there were no other options other than the typical BudMillerCoors options (Editor's Note: During Sporting KC matches the stadium features local craft beers Boulevard and Weston. We're not sure if these beers were available for this particular match since U.S. Soccer ran the show) Now the rest of the stadium may have had other options for better beer but I didn’t make it to the rest of the stadium. As an aside, speaking of the stadium: Livestrong Sporting Park is a fabulous place to experience a football match.
The author on the right, with pops.
After the game we needed food and a cold one to end the evening. Not really wanting to drive anywhere and since we were close to a huge shopping complex we had a few nice options. While the Yard House was my first choice, Granite City Food and Brewing was considerably closer to the stadium and subsequently our hotel so we chose that option. I was thinking that this was a local brewpub but was slightly disappointed to find out that it is more of a regional company rather than a local one. However, that shouldn’t change the quality of the food and beer. It is not the cheapest option but it is not terribly overpriced. The beer is of a pretty impressive quality and the food was good so overall I wasn’t disappointed with our choice by proximity.
With all the excitement that the day had given us we called it an earlier night than probably most of the American Outlaws in our section. The next day we left fairly early so after one of the biggest breakfasts that I have ever had we headed to the airport. Looking back the Kansas City supporters provided this KC transplant for the day an incredible experience that I will not soon forget. I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have hoped but our visit was just for the soccer game and then subsequently a nice beer run. I am hoping that KC is chosen as one of the Hex sites, since it was an easy trip for us and the local fans show up in full force. From the restaurants to the tailgating, local beer was everywhere…except potentially the stadium.
Blake Winchell is a Southern craft beer, homebrewing, and soccer fanatic. He is a regional correspondent for AmericanCraftBeer.com and the President of Brasseurs a la Maison a Baton Rouge homebrew club. Since there is no soccer team in LA so he has to find a club across the country and pond to support so he arbitrarily picked Portland Timbers and Tottenham Hotspur.
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