Kansas beer fans gather for food & fun

By Joe Stumpe

Think young hipsters are the only folks enjoying all those local brewpubs that have popped open in recent years? Think again.

A group of beer lovers headed by semi-retired Wichita CPA Charlie Buess have been sampling Kansas brews on a regular basis the last couple of years, and Buess says they’re in good company.

“I would say it’s more likely to walk into one of these places and find a gathering of 55-year-olds than find a gathering of 25-year-olds, although you’ll find them, too.”

Buess said the tastings started with friends stopping by his office for a beer on Fridays “just to kind of end the week” before heading to dinner or whatever else they planned for the night. Buess would have a few varieties made by one of the state’s breweries waiting on ice. Then, while sitting with two friends at Central Standard Brewing one day, they got the idea that everybody should see the brewpubs in person.

“This has all been very informal. I would email friends and clients and say ‘Hey, meet us here.’”

In addition to enjoying beer, Buess said, “I enjoy the brewpubs because there’s an emphasis on tasting the beer more than just throwing a few back, like when you meet at a bar. I also enjoy the entrepreneurial part of it. The owners are heavily involved. They’re friendly. 

Buess estimates that he’s been to about 75 breweries, including some in Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Illinois. He’ll often bring back two to four 32-ounce growlers from his travels for his friends to enjoy.

He doesn’t claim any particular expertise on the subject of beer, saying he just enjoys the experience of being a “brewery tourist.”

“I like the atmosphere, I like the people, I like the camaraderie.”

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