Some of the best advice I have ever received was given to me by my father, Butch, the day he helped me move into my dorm room at Mizzou. He said “Son, just remember that drinking is not an athletic event.” He was of course implying that alcohol should be enjoyed slowly and purposefully, and not by stabbing a can of cheap beer with your car keys and sucking it down your gullet in five seconds or less (sorry, Dad). The reason his sage advice comes to mind right now is because, as I sit typing this review, I am involuntarily draining a growler of KC Bier Co’s Dunkel with the same enthusiasm that my college self attacked a case of Bud Select.
As a relatively sheltered only child from the Budweiser-soaked streets of St. Louis, I entered adult life armed with very limited knowledge of the beer world. I knew about Budweiser (the nectar of the gods), Bud Light (for when the gods were watching their figure), and Natural Light (a mixture of Bud Light and the hose-water they used to wash out the tanks). I remained largely ignorant of the beer world until I stumbled upon the chosen drink of my ginger-bearded forefathers: Guinness.
I took a liking to Guinness, which inspired me to start trying a wider variety of beers. My roommates and I often sought counsel from who we thought was the all-knowing Grand Poobah of the Columbia beer scene, Josh, who was really just the assistant manager in the local Hy-Vee liquor department. On one such trip, I decided to try a beer from my other ancestral homeland of Germany. To be honest, I have no idea what beer it was, but it was expensive, skunky, all around disappointing. Of course it didn’t occur to me at the time that maybe the imported German beer at the Hy-Vee in Columbia, Missouri probably wasn’t the freshest stuff around. Regardless, it tainted my view of German beer for several years.
Skip ahead to 2014. I’m living in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City, and I hear of a new German-style brewery opening up nearby, hyping up their fresh, German-style lagers. Intrigued, I gather some friends and head to the grand opening of KC Bier Company, where we each ordered a flight, which included their Helles, Hefeweizen, Weizenbock, and Dunkel. After promptly finishing off our tasters, we proceeded to break my father’s rule with gusto. I was enamored with the Weizenbock in particular, and maintain to this day that my first taste was a religious experience.
Since the fall weather is finally starting to set in, I will be focusing on my favorite cool-weather beer from KCBC: the Dunkel. Although the Helles was intended to be their flagship beer, the majority of KCBC’s sales have come from the Dunkel, making up 85% of their sales at one point. This dunkel pours a beautiful mahogany brown, with a dense, frothy, off-white head that hangs around for a while. This highly drinkable beer is defined by its true-to-style malty, grainy sweetness, and a nutty, slightly chocolatey aftertaste. It’s the perfect beer to be consumed in chilly weather while sitting around a campfire, or while consuming smoked meats or hearty stews. My personal favorite way to enjoy the Dunkel is at the source; my fiancé and I love to sit in KC Bier Co’s always-busy biergarten and observe the goings-on that day (AKA, I look at all the dogs, she looks at all the babies), all while slowly sipping and enjoying one of their many fantastic beers in their perfectly simplistic custom glassware… and definitely not through a hose or the sawed-off end of a wiffle ball bat (sorry again, Dad). Prost!