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Northland Brewtrip

In the middle of last week, I sent out an invitation to a bunch of friends to please please attend an informal tour of the beer-related destinations of the stark northern suburbs of Kansas City. I called it the "Northland Brewtrip." After a couple of days, and an adjustment to the scheduling from doing it in the afternoon to doing it at night, Brad and Kelly agreed to go, and a bunch of maybes fizzled out within 24 hours of the event. No matter. We still had a great time.

Since it was my show, I agreed to drive and let the others enjoy themselves. I picked up Brad, then Kelly, and we started off at the Dish in Liberty. I had heard emotional claims from several people that are normally reasonable people, that the Dish makes the best Chicago-style outside Chicago. So I was pretty excited for it. Brad got an apple Ephemere, Kelly got a Turbodog, and I got a Dead Guy Ale, and we ordered a simple sausage-and-pepperoni deep-dish pizza.

It came, and while it certainly was delicious, it still wasn't as good, in my opinion, as the sausage pizza at Tarantino's, four blocks from my door downtown, and it still wasn't even half as thick as the great deep-dishes of Chicago. That's fine though. The pizza was still outstanding, and I'd rather the best Chicago-style in KC be right next to my house than all the way out in Liberty anyway.

We settled our tab and made a run back to Kelly's house so she could get her wallet. We then made the surprisingly long trip to Weston, MO. It was surprising to me because I'd been there several times before, and it was still longer than I'd expected. To my intense amazement, not only had neither Kelly or Brad ever been to O'Malley's before, but they had barely even heard of it. Despite its frustratingly remote location, it's a must-see when visiting Kansas City. Located entirely within 165-year old limestone cellars, I didn't even flinch when the man at the door informed us of the five dollar cover charge. If they'd require that we all take a punch in the groin, I'd have taken it.

To the surprise of Brad and Kelly, we just kept going down more stairs, until the heating of the deceptively small above-ground portion had worn away, and the air was filled with the musty odor of cave and the sound of the merriment of at least a hundred people somewhere below. We emerged in the orange light of the main hall, and reveled in the warm fellowship of a band playing Finnegan's Wake to cheers, applause, laughter, and white-man style rhythmic clapping. By luck, we snagged a booth table and had no problem enjoying the music, the surroundings, and the hand-crafted beer while fingering through some local Irish news publication that you only ever see in a place like O'Malley's.

It made me ache to know that we'd have to leave, because O'Malley's really is the best Irish pub I can think of anywhere, including Ireland(my current top 5 list is O'Malley's, Temple Bar in Dublin, the Busted Lift in Dubuque, IA, O'Dowd's on the Plaza in Kansas City, and Kelleher's Pub in Peoria, IL). I had one beer, the delicious Festival Ale, while Kelly and Brad each had two. We reluctantly got up and made our way out as someone quickly snatched up our table, and plodded back out in the snow to the car.

We next made for Leavenworth, where the High Noon Saloon awaited us with baited breath. We drove the seven or eight miles completely enclosed in fog, so that oncoming vehicles completely blinded us. We crossed the spectrally illuminated bridge into Kansas, turned left onto 4th Street, and sat behind two waiting taxicabs that blocked any parking. We finally got inside, and saw that there was a sub-excellent cover band playing, for which we would have to pay an additional five dollars. We coughed it up and made our way to the part of the bar farthest from the band. Luckily, that was where the beer was.

I asked the bartender if they had anything hoppy, and he responded by asking me if I was from the West Coast. Brad and Kelly played a rousing game of air hockey before we finished our beers and took our leave. It would have been much nicer if there hadn't been a noisy band playing, but as it was, we had to go. On the way out of town, I pointed out Marfield's, where one may find the best hamburgers in existence anywhere.

Our plan was to hit the Power Plant in Parkville next, but by the time we got there(about 12:30am), the cars were gone and the lights were off. So we made a beeline for another bar that neither Kelly nor Brad had ever visited: Paci's(sorry. no link) in North Kansas City. They have roughly 100 American bottles, very few of which are grey(BudMillCoors). I was told a few months ago that for a long while they didn't even carry any grey beer. Paci's sells their bottles for $3 a piece, with two exceptions. The Chimay red is slightly more, and the grey beer is slightly less.

It's also a cigar bar, with the biggest humidor I've seen in any bar in KC besides the Cigar Box. Kelly and Brad helped themselves to some robust Macanudos when we sat down. In addition to this, the bar is owned and patroned by some of the most devoted Elvis enthusiasts I have ever seen. It took me a couple visits to notice the Elvis memorabilia papering the walls all around the bar, because frankly, Elvis is everywhere and I don't really notice it anymore. But this place is crazy about Elvis. When we walked in, we had enough time to watch the last forty minutes or so of a DVD of a fantastic live performance by the King from 1970. It was excellent.

Lastly, Paci's sells more Cabo Wabo Tequila than any other place in town, though I've only ever seen two people there drinking it, and I was one of them, shortly before I vomited, hard, on my birthday. I had no sickness on this night however, besides perhaps some burning eyes and nostrils from cigars being smoked at my table. By about 1:30am, we all agreed that the night had been exemplary, and that it was time to throw in the towel. I dropped Kelly and Brad off, went home, and fell heavily, happily asleep.

12:04 PM, Dec 31, 2007

1 comment

Brad chimed in with:

Excellent trip and well worth it. Thanks again for driving. Next time I'll drive.

2:14 PM, Dec 31, 2007

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