When you slide up to the bar at City Barrel to survey the tap selection, you may notice intermittent holes on the back-bar wood paneling – evidence of the white oak planks’ past life suspending Monets and Rembrandts at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Today, the reclaimed wood has been reborn, displaying what brewery owners consider to be their liquid masterpieces: carefully-crafted, uniquely hoppy, wild and sour beers.
City Barrel, located at 1740 Holmes in the East Crossroads district of downtown Kansas City, is a newly opened 125-seat taproom and brewpub offering a craft beer and a space for every mood.
In the main taproom, grab a beer in a wine glass (thanks to City Barrel’s decidedly different signature glassware) and enjoy a brew alongside upscale bar fare. As warmer temperatures arrive, carry a hoppy lager upstairs to the barrel deck for beers and city views. In the front entrance of the brewpub, a juice bomb East Coast IPA in an open-air bier garden environment will do just fine. And soon, make weekend reservations for the brewer’s table featuring a five-course prix fixe menu that pairs some of the brewery’s signature beers – big barrel-aged sours and hoppy IPAs – with a chef-driven menu of equally complex and delicious food.
James Stutsman, one of City Barrel’s three owners, describes the brewpub’s overall aesthetic as “earth meets metal” – with interior finishes and furnishings inspired by brewing operations. IPAs are produced in one of the brewery’s six stainless steel tanks, while sours are aged in two 1,000-gallon white oak barrels or a variety of smaller spirits barrels. Beer geeks who love a glimpse of behind-the-scenes, rejoice. Brewing operations are open, separated from the taproom and restaurant by just a velvet rope.
Stutsman says a full restaurant menu, distinctive styles of beer and building capacity distinguish City Barrel from the four other breweries within a three-block distance on 18th street in the East Crossroads district. However, rather than seeing other breweries as competitors, City Barrel owners are thankful for the collaborative, open-source information sharing that takes place among fellow brewers. It’s a community that’s good for both brewers and beer enthusiasts alike.
“This is the perfect little brewers’ alley here,” Stutsman says. “You can just bar hop. Then when you add in the wineries and distilleries, it’s a dangerously good time.”
Try: Stone’s Throw, a City Barrel-Torn Label collaboration New England IPA with apricots and peaches, or Gucci Brut, an effervescent, citrusy IPA collaboration with Stockyards Brewery.