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Other Letters From America

Airport thirst quenched at the Boulevard

A business trip to Kansas City was the only flying I had been up to recently (unlike Barry Smith of Tigertops I hear). So I immediately dusted off my copy of “The Beer Lover’s Guides to the USA” (a must for beer visitors to the US, ISBN 0-312-24664-1) and planned for the eventuality of getting a free hour, or so, after numerous planned meetings. First and foremost though, and more importantly, I had a beer-rumour to substantiate at the Airport.

I decided to avoid LAX. The Airports size is matched only by that of its queues and rising parking fees these days. I also wished to avoid the indignant probing by nervous 13-year old Star-Wars wanna-bee “Darth-Maulers” resplendent in their crisp oversize uniforms (which reminded me of my first day at Ossett Comp.) and armed only with a metal detecting illuminated recycled beeping Dildo. Incredibly, nearly 12 months since 9/11, the US still have a lot to learn about Airport security in my opinion. After the recent shooting at the El-Al Terminal in LAX, I elected to fly from Long Beach Airport instead. Its more personal, the queues are much smaller, and the security personnel shave – which is much more comforting. LB Airport is a superb 1930’s building in the Art Deco style, which literally oozes its aeronautical heritage from the surrounding areas, but which has no bar – damn. As I had chosen American Airlines, I flew via Dallas Airport where there are Bars, but only 40 minutes between flights meant no time for beer - bugger. Several hours later though, and I was at Kansas City International Airport with a huge thirst to quench.

I had arrived 2 hours before my colleague was due to land. No fear, for I had heard unsubstantiated rumours of a Bar that according to my source, “….did some of the thick-tasting soupy English Porter, funny cloudy beers, yunnow – Micra-brewing and what’s-it called stuff”. A friend who I have yet to convert from Miller !!!. I never liked Nissan Micra’s, but I was looking forward to some real beer hunting for once, and finding whatever it was that was there. I could have looked on the Internet, but declined in favour of good old fashioned leg work when I arrived.

Kansas City International Airport is comprises three horseshoe shaped terminals. Designed and built long before Osamma Bin Laden was in shorts, it was not constructed for the security conscious. As such, the numerous entrances are literally 5 metres from the Gates, which makes it very easy to get around. When I arrived it was VERY HOT and in the 90’s, thank goodness the Terminals had A/C, but I did had a real thirst to slake. So I elected to survey where I had landed first, Terminal “B”. The layout of the Terminals is such that there are 2 main blocks of shops/restaurants/restrooms per horseshoe. A 270 degree walk along the Terminal “B” internal circular walk-way sadly revealed nothing more than several junk food outlets and an Anheuser-Busch Bar. Horror of horrors, my heart sank. My contacts death was imminent on my return to LA, if this is what he meant.

It was time to evaluate the available information, and a Map was located. Terminal “C” looked good, I had a funny feeling, so I immediately found the restrooms. Afterwards I braved the scorching heat to work out how to get to Terminal “C”. Red Buses continually traverse the road that runs in front of all 3 Terminals in a never ending loop, they were free and I flagged one down. No one else boarded and the driver was one of those miserable sods who did not talk. It never ceases to amaze me why these sorts of people get jobs dealing with Joe Public (must be ex- West Riding!!!). 4 minutes later and I was dropped off at Terminal “C”, entered at one end and repeated the 270 degree walk – Bingo! There it was next to the Lufthansa Gates, bloody Germans get all the best Bars. Boulevard Brewing Company. It looked small from the outside, but as my ex-girlfriend frequently told me – size isn’t everything. A small bar is on the left hand side as you enter and it has about 4 high stools. The view was out onto the Tarmac and of planes landing and taking off, superb for plane-spotters. A few tables and chairs made up the rest of the Bar.

The Boulevard Brewery itself is located in Kansas City, and opened in 1989. Ten years later they opened the Airport Bar which sells their 4 regular Boulevard beers on Tap, a good range for the small size. Regular beers are Pale Ale (4.1% ABW) which is the flagship beer and the first one I tried – an excellent session beer. Unfiltered Wheat Beer (3.6%) was second and very refreshing. Bully! Porter (4.7%) is dark and has an incredible roast taste and my favourite, whilst the Stout (4.2%) is smooth and very palatable. Boulevard brew 4 other Seasonal beers, none of which were available in the Airport, but do make appearances occasionally according to the bartender. The literature lists them as ZōN (Flemish for summer – apparently) is a Belgian style wheat beer (3.4%) with coriander and orange peel, Irish Ale (4.3%) is, surprise, the brewery’s attempt at a Red Ale, whilst Bob’s 47 (4.5%) is a Munich style lager named after the Brewery Dray, a 1947 Dodge Flatbed. Nutcracker Ale (5.3%) is the Christmas offering and a spiced beer. All of the beers are also available in bottle-conditioned form (very rare in the US), except the Stout - which is only served on Draught.

A good Airport Bar can be worth its weight in gold when you have time to kill between flights, or worse still experience delays. If you get to Kansas City International Airport, I recommend seeking out the Boulevard Brewery Bar in Terminal C. Just follow the Germans.

Chocks Away!

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