Dining With Denise Neil

Midwest Beerfest will be in the spring next year

If you enjoyed this weekend’s Midwest Beerfest festivities as much as I did, I have excellent news for you.

We get to do it all again in seven short months.

Next year, organizers are moving Midwest Beerfest to the spring and have already agreed on dates: May 20 and 21. The reason for the change: Too many other events, from Woofstock to the Great Plains Renaissance Festival to the Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff, clog the calendar in the fall. Also, the Great American Beerfest in Denver is frequently in the fall and pulls many key beer people away from Wichita, organizers say.

It’ll take me at least that long to get ready for another round. I took in the full beerfest experience this weekend, starting with an Odell Beer Dinner on Friday night at Lakeside Club, where chef Damian Lehman cooked an amazing five-course meal that included fall-off-the-bone braised short rib with pumpkin spaetzle.

Saturday’s grand tasting also was a good time. It lasted from 4 to 7 p.m. and included hundreds of beers to sample. I was happy to see that the Kansas section was one of the most busy throughout the evening, and the guys from Central Standard had a particularly long line. (I loved their sour beer.) I also was impressed by a toasted coconut milk stout from Emporia’s Radius Brewing Company, and Hank is Wiser had several fun fruity beers, including mango, watermelon and blueberry.

I was a judge at the Grand Tasting’s chicken wing competition, where we tasted nine different entries. DoubleTree by Hilton Wichita Airport won “best of the fest” wing with a spicy, Indian-flavored entry. The Anchor’s blue cheese-coated wing was named “most original,” and Wingstop got “most exotic.”

Joe’s Oldtown Bar & Grill was the People’s Choice winner, followed by DoubleTree by Hilton Wichita Airport then Buffalo Wing Wings.

Please take a minute to watch this fun video I made out of Saturday’s tasting, which I’ve titled “The Evolution of Midwest Beerfest.”