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Free State Brewery enters Wichita market with bottle sales

WICHITA — The ever-popular Free State Brewing Co. in Lawrence is participating in the Midwest Beerfest Saturday and having a tasting at the Anchor that night, but that's not the exciting news for fans of the bar and its brew.

Starting Monday, four of Free State's beers will be available at liquor stores throughout the city.

Standard Beverage is distributing Free State's Wheat State Golden, Copperhead Pale Ale, Oatmeal Stout and Ad Astra Ale.

"Those are the ones that have been kind of our flagship beers since we opened 20 years ago," owner Chuck Magerl says. "Those have been the perennial favorites."

He started selling bottles in Lawrence in May. Magerl thought he'd be in the rest of the state by June, but it didn't work out.

"The response in Lawrence was so great . . . we didn't even tiptoe our way to Topeka till August."

In September, he made it to Johnson County stores.

"So this month we're finally making it into the Wichita market," he says.

The demand has been so high, it's been a much slower process than Magerl expected.

"There are certainly worse problems in this economy," he says. "We're grateful for that."

Magerl says there's incredible growth in the craft beer industry nationally and in Kansas. He also notes that Wichita is a great dining town.

"We're excited about Wichita," he says. "It's a big step for us."