Tallgrass Brewery Tours
8845 Quail Lane, Manhattan
For tours: Saturdays, 2-3p, 3-4p, 4-5p
Just stop in! (Must be 21+)
Tasting room is open Monday – Friday, 11a-5p
As much as seveneightfive prefers you stay in Topeka, if you do find yourself in the Manhattan area, I urge you to make a visit to the Tallgrass Brewery. Tours are offered on Saturdays from 2 to 5p. For only $5, visitors receive a Tallgrass Tour Glass and five samples to go with it. I made sure to go with my friend John, who just happens to be an attorney. My wife thinks it is a good idea for me to have legal representation where beer samples and industrial machinery are in such close proximity.
The tour begins with the distribution of the sample glass and our first tasting. Being from the Atari and early Nintendo eras, John and I started with the 8-Bit Pale Ale. This yellow American Pale Ale is infused with Australian-grown Galaxy Hops to give it a melon aroma. It is simple, but addictive, much like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.
Our first stop in the actual brewery shows us the mashing process. This is where the malt grain is mixed with hot water in order to begin the breakdown of starch into sugar. Before we move on, a taste of Halcyon Unfiltered Wheat is next on the list. Once a seasonal, but now brewed throughout the year, it uses Kansas-grown white wheat and hops to satisfy a thirst during those hot summer months.
Meanwhile, the mixture, now known as wort, is transferred to a brew kettle and boiled for 90 minutes. This is where the wort is sterilized, and the hops are added. In the case of Oasis ESB/IPA, a very large amount of hops are added. Our third sample truly exhibits a strong hop flavor and above-average alcohol content. Take your time with this one.
After being told to stop fiddling with the levers and to keep my stupid questions to myself, our tour guide explains to us how the wort is separated, cooled, and stored in a fermenting vessel for 7-15 days. Soon after, they are ready to be canned. (For economic and environmental reasons, Tallgrass uses cans instead of bottles. Make time to read their “canifesto” at tallgrassbeer.com for a full explanation.) One of their most artful cans is the Velvet Rooster. This Belgian-Style Triple is extra bubbly with a crisp taste that could pass as a substitute for champagne.
After the tour concludes, John and I realize how listening and drinking makes you thirsty. We decide to finish things off with some Buffalo Sweat. Even if you are not a fan of dark beers, a sip of this will have you thinking of a cream soda rather than a bitter stout.
Afterward, on our way back to Topeka, our designated driver (and my better half) asked about our experience. We stated we wanted to try the rest of the beers with a follow-up visit. She asked if the brewery would let us return. It’s a valid question.
Tallgrass beers are readily available at many local bars, restaurants and liquor stores.
[Story by Kevin Reed | Photography by Colin MacMillan | Nathan Ham Photography]