For the second year, head brewers from Lawrence’s Free State and 23rd Street breweries and Topeka’s Blind Tiger Brewery collaborated to create a new beer in honor of the week, being celebrated nationwide Monday through May 19.
They named this year's concoction “Smoke on the Wheat." Light as straw and crisp as Perrier but with a roguish smoky overtone — and as 23rd Street head brewer Bryan “Bucky” Buckingham notes, a little baloney on the nose (...or maybe it sounds better to say charcuterie?) — Smoke on the Wheat is in the style of a 14th century Polish Grätzer ale. The beer, made with oak-smoked wheat and Polish yeast, is low-alcohol, high-carbonation and pours with a big, fluffy head.
A second collaborative brew, created by 23rd Street and members of the Lawrence Brewers Guild, will be tapped Monday at 23rd Street.
“LBG Collaboration No. 2” is a Belgian-style IPA. Or, if you want to get specific, an “amber-Belgian-wheat-IPA-Trappist-specialty-beer-kind-of-thing,” Buckingham says. “It’s got a lot going on.” Higher in alcohol, honey colored and slightly sweet smelling, Collaboration No. 2 surprises with a super-dry, hoppy finish.
These two brews and many others will be the focus of all kinds of activities next week. Here’s a rundown:
• Smoke on the Wheat tapped at 23rd Street, 3512 Clinton Parkway, Free State, 636 Massachusetts St., and Blind Tiger, 417 SW 37th St. in Topeka. (Each brewery held back a keg of Full Kimono, the result of last year's collaboration, to tap during the week, too.)
• LBG Collaboration No. 2 tapped at 23rd Street
• Five-course Free State beer dinner at so-hot-right-now Kansas City, Mo., restaurant Port Fonda, 4141 Pennsylvania St. Cost: $55. Reservations: 816-216-6462 or email@example.com.
• Beer Trivia Night at the Burger Stand, 803 Massachusetts St. With a Free State tap takeover on the lower level — and prizes!
• Free State beer flowing (as usual) at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market, 4 to 6:30 p.m. at 1832 Massachusetts St.
• Firkin tapping for LBG Collaboration No. 2 with orange peel added, 6 p.m. at 23rd Street