Braking at Blanc
So, if Revocup revved me up, then I found the brakes at Blanc on The Plaza. Weekday, lunchtime beers aren’t usually my thing, but on this day, I couldn’t resist. After all, Blanc had just tapped a firkin of Stone Brewing’s Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale—and a double dry hopped version at that.
What’s so special about a firkin? Here’s how Josh Eans, Blanc’s former chef, explained it to me: a firkin’s a smallish keg (about 10.8 gallons) with an old-fashioned closure, something like the kind used on kegs back when they were made of wood and beer was naturally carbonated.
You put in the beer, plus some hops, and carbonation happens. The result: cask-conditioned ale of the kind sheltered wannabe beer geeks like me don’t come across very often.
It doesn’t last long—Eans warned it would be at its freshest best for just 48 hours. We still almost didn’t get any. When we arrived at Blanc, the lunch staff didn’t know what we were talking about. Someone finally found the firkin in the walk-in. There wasn’t much left, but there was at least enough for us.
It was black, but lighter-bodied than more familiar dark styles like porter. The flavor was hoppy, with a bit of bitterness and hints of citrus and cream—all things tipped in reviews of Stone’s original Sublimely Self-Righteous, which I haven’t tasted and so can’t actually compare it to. What I can say is that the soft mouthfeel and full flavor were incredibly satisfying.
Maybe it just reminded me of all those afternoons the husband and I whiled away in Britain, tracking down similar “real” ales championed by the Campaign for Real Ale. Maybe it was the scarcity, or just getting to say “firkin.” But I liked this ale. Really liked it. Enough that I could have spent an afternoon there, sitting in the sun, and contemplating what a good beer town Kansas City’s become.
Eans says another firkin—this one filled with Firestone Walker’s Reserve Porter—should arrive soon, plus those rare beer nights and the 150 or so bottles on its regular menu. And then there’s everything everywhere else: The Riot Room, McCoy’s, The Foundry, Beer Kitchen, all in Westport. Grinder’s and The Drop, Waldo Pizza and Swagger. Spoilt for choice, as they’d say in London.
Ah, but reality called. So I slipped across the street, refueling with coffee from LattéLand, then headed off to the next interview.