Kansas City was a drab joint on Memorial Day 2011.
The morning started overcast. The streets were bone dry. Places weren’t all open, including the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. That was a huge bummer, since I had spent the past 10 days driving America to do nothing but watch baseball games.
But I had the tourist’s guide to Kansas City in my head, so a friend and I stopped by Arthur Bryant’s for a plate of ribs and about nine spongy slabs of white bread. Then it was off to Kauffman Stadium for a day tilt: Royals vs. Angels, Memorial Day baseball, America.
The clouds cleared and the royal blue overhead added to the overwhelming confidence that had begun to pepper the fans of the hometown nine. Though the Royals were six games under .500 already, fans told me they were pumped for the future. “Hosmer’s here,” a lifetime fan told me out on the Bud Light Party Deck. That’s what we drank that day, the champagne of wannabes behind a bastion of bro-dom.
But she was right: Hosmer was here. The kid homered and doubled, helping lead the young Royals to an 8-5 lead in the seventh. I had visited seven major league parks by this point and hadn’t seen one home loss. It wasn’t happening today, either.
But that’s something a guy on the Bud Light Party Deck would say.
Once you get over the warmth, there’s more fruit in this than typical saisons.”
All throughout the stadium I had seen signs for Boulevard beer. I had made a point to sample local brews at every stop, but for some reason I denied Boulevard. “I’m not sure about that logo,” I thought, before guzzling another $12 Bud Light.
I missed Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale that day, a powerhouse in that it slaps you harder than the traditional saison. Part of the Kansas City brewery’s Smokestack Series, now bottled in different sizes and more ubiquitous as a result of its massive expansion in 2006, Tank 7 turns up the heat on the classic saison, and literally.
The first sip comes in warm and a little funky, which makes sense considering the 8.5% alcohol by volume. Saisons typically hover in the 7% range, but Boulevard has always liked to experiment.
Once you get over the warmth, there’s more fruit in this than typical saisons. Banana – a taste I frequently associate with Belgian triples and quads – finds its way in, especially. Otherwise there’s the standard pepper, but that’s more on the nose than the tongue. A splash of the dry-hopped Amarillo gives it a citrus bite, but it’s a little less complex than what I’ve come to appreciate with saisons.
When it finishes, Tank 7 dries up quickly, leaving just a barren, warm wasteland akin to the deserted Kansas City streets in the middle of Memorial Day 2011.
On that day all the action was in the ballpark, and for the only time during my trip, the home team let me down. A Torii Hunter home run against Joakim Soria – who would lose his closer job after the game – swung the game in the Angels’ favor. The Royals lost, 10-8, sending a previously delirious and Garth Brooks singin’ crowd to its default state: disappointed.
It was my fault. I spent the day tanning on the Bud Light Party Deck, not sipping a Tank 7 like the wise natives who got friends in low places.
Thankfully they’d be redeemed: Just four years later the Royals would win the World Series, and guess who was there? Hosmer. Though he hit .190 in the series, he was definitely there.