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Free State Brewing Co.
Active Beers: 44
Beer Ratings: 1,039
Beer Avg: 3.86
Taps: - / Bottles: -
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]
636 Massachusetts St
phone: (785) 843-4555
(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Ratings & Reviews
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| Reviews: 58 | Show All Ratings:
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
This, most certainly, is last call. Rolled (Tumbleweeded, really) an hour out into Kansas, for beer and for beer, and are now working our way back East from wherest we came to drop Randy and run. Either everything in Kansas looks the same or I’m not actually moving. Or both. Are we making any ground here? I’m just so not getting to Omaha, let alone all the way out to Des Moines tonight...
Towards the north end of the strip on Massachusetts Street, people sittin’ curbside in a small corral umbrella’d. Do they know something? And in. Through to the far corner, an “L” shaped wood bar with swivel chair seating for 7 on the straight; the bend lost to service. A pair of copper bar towers at different points along the bar hold 8 taps each. Barback is a wall of shelved glassware & shirts, with cooler space below, and strangely unreachable cupboard space atop. Stucco cement wall to the ceiling above boasting a Kansas state flag. TV’s mounted on each end above the bar, and shirts displayed to one side with a slat board holding the tap list.
Just past where I’m sitting at the end of the bar, a small, 2 floored brew room behind glass angled, with a bar counter below on its windows. A row of fermenters to one side and a brick lined kettle & mash tun to the other. I’ve seen the guy go up and down the center ladder a few times now, and can see the keg stash from here. They make beer in there.
Rafter and wood plank ceiling sporting large copper pan drop lamps over the bar, track & solo baby spots about, and spinnys with glass lamps over the mezzanine, running over the front of the room and around the side behind us. Floor is a series of the butts of 4 x 6’s showing grain, cedar, along the bar; the rest of the room done in deep red concrete. Forward wall of block stone, done lightly with framed prints, and tall narrow vertical windows blinded up front. The seating pen pillared there below the mezzanine holds nearly a dozen booths & tables, some with shared benching.
9 beers up, they don’t deal a sampler, per say, but I had some samples of some not all, yes. Had to pick and choose and got through 6 of 9 (Octoberfest, light, with but rich & malty goodness; Harvest Ale, wild Citra & Centennial wet hopped, grassy; Ad Astra Ale, an Alt, malty sweetness; Big Sea ESB, deep amber color with a big malt backbone, nice hoppiness; Thomas Paine Porter, dark roastiness, hop bitterness; Oatmeal Stout, a little thinnish, oaty, silky). Didn’t have at the other 3 (Wheat State Golden, Thunderhead Pale Ale (APA), Copperhead Pale Ale) as I’m tight on time, but I liked what I had for the most part. The Octoberfest, Big Sea ESB & Harvest Ale were the best of ‘em.
And seriously, I was thinking about the Salmon Bruchetta, but Randy gave me the “Like you’re not going to have the gumbo”, and well, yeah, who are we kiddin’? Chicken, crawfish & Andouille sausage in a dark brown roux, with the obligatory okra, and a wonderful lump pilaf of barley, wheat & brown rice. It had some good heat. You know, that was one stellar bowl of gumbo. Randy had the black bean burger as Randy does. I could’ve should’ve would’ve asked him how his burger was but I was all about me (and gumbo) at that given moment, so, um, no.
Upstairs, the mezzanine holds dozen + booths & tables to forward over the canopied front windows. Off to the side, a small meeting room with old Kansas prints, and through to a totally unexpected back area.
It’s a large open space with a balcony running around 3 sides of the room, and a blue sky stucco ceiling. More tablings below, a corner fountain, and sprawling hanging plants. You do bands here? Really? Yeah, I guess I can believe that, sure.
I got ID’d, which at twice plus the drinking age, well, it is a college town. Good crowd this afternoon, many getting their growlers filled. My (5) 2oz samples cost a whopping $1.45, which is just criminal, or criminally insane, maybe. At these prices, I could never survive in this town, state, time zone. Good food and good beer, no complaints, except that I’m in Kansas (yes, I went there).
05-03-2011 16:50:08 |
More by slander
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | $
It was mobbed here on a Saturday night, and despite that the bartenders were quick and helpful. We stopped in just to give it a look see and have a beer at the bar. Lots of groups in here, diverse folks, families, couples, all types really. Two floors, dining area upstairs, tables and bar below, with a view of the brewing equipment behind the hanging board of house beers.
The selection was good, a range of styles with a seasonal English Strong Ale "Stingo" and a pair of tasty IPAs. They also serve a house radler (blend of pale wheat and lemonade) on tap called "Cyclist". Other year round favorites were on, like Ad-Astra, Copperhead, and a seasonal Marzen and Pilsner. They keep their rotating drafts updated online.
The space was open and airy with the second floor overlooking the bar area. In the restrooms were German ads for hops, and a map of hop-producing areas in the Pacific NW region... pretty cool. Overall a fun place, bustling on the weekends. Will return to eat and sample more Free State beers one day.
06-27-2011 16:10:50 |
More by emerge077
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
As I approached this place on a Saturday night, it dawned on me that it is no secret. I had been steered here by the Nebraskans and I was planning to visit anyway, but I was not ready for its popularity. The front patio was packed, both with restauranteurs and people waiting for a table to open. As I transited the short vestibule and approached the maitre d station, I looked to my left and could not help but be struck by just how crowded it was inside.
The angular, wedge-shaped bar was directly to the left, with the brick-jacketed brewhouse to my right, once I was seated at the bar. Both the bar and the back bar were made of blonde wood with the back bar essentially a series of shelves for glassware and t-shirts. I was told that the building is a former trolley barn (!), but only the roof and two walls are original with everything else having been added subsequently. The first floor dining room was dotted by four pillars, which acted as support for the second floor dining area. The second floor was accessible by going up a set of steps just aft of the maitre d station. Past the steps, on the right hand side, opposite the brewhouse, were the washrooms. Beyond the washrooms was a separate dining area, also on two floors. It was originally a biergarten, but it has since been enclosed.
The beers were all very clean and mostly clear, enabling them to pass the Nebraska Test. There is no such thing as Happy Hour in Kansas, but Mondays are designated as $1.75 Selected Beer Days, with a beer drastically reduced in order to either introduce a new one or to finish an off-going beer. My picks were the Copperhead Pale Ale, the Lemon- grass Rye (thanks again, Sopor), and the shockingly good Coeur de Saison. It was surprising in its level of effervescence, soft, fruity, sour at the finish Hey, maybe I had better write a review. The other notable phenomenon here was the amount of mixing of beers that was taking place.
11-14-2006 00:09:40 |
More by woodychandler
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | $
Stopped in on a Tuesday around 6:00 on a day it was 107 degrees outside. So hot that they were dumping ice water on the large brass handle that opens the front door (which faces the sun to the west).
Pretty crowded with people who all seemed to know each other and the staff. Laid back as one would expect in a college town. I thought the interior was a bit uninspiring for a brewpub. Building seems like it was something from the 70's.
I sat near the bar and had two beers - a hop jack ale with all nugget hops (bitering, aromatics, and dry hop) and the storm chaser stout. Both beers were pretty good but I was after a bitter and citrusy IPA. They also had an interesting beer that was a cross between a hefe and american pale ale.
I went to 23rd street afterwards and had the best Kansas IPA ever and would probably opt for 23rd over Free State in the future.
08-04-2010 20:10:11 |
More by Yetiman420
vibe: 5 | quality: 3.25 | service: 5 | selection: 3.25 | $$
Another stop on my Kansas City BBQ trip. The atmosphere was fantastic as expected in a college town. The people were also top notch, friendly and courteous in almost every way. I found the beers for the most part to be ok, but not top shelf as others I have tried on the Pacific coast and the Midwest. Still it was fun place to visit and I have deviated from the consensus before. I do intend to stop again for another round in the future as the reviews are very strong on here, with Lawrence seeming to be a very fun town.
03-15-2013 01:09:05 |
More by MilwaukeeCrusher
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Carolyn wasn't awake for much of the drive from Des Moines, IA through Missouri, and woke up around Kansas City. We crossed in to Kansas and headed straight for the city of Lawrence, KS. Our friend Tim suggested we meet at Free State Brewing, which is located on the main street among a mixture of small family businesses that range from practical to funky, and higher-end stores I expect to see in fancy malls.
The building is a former trolley station, and retains many of the original features (if you go, look up!), but is well suited for a crowded restaurant with multiple choices for seating areas. Plenty of people also chose to move outside to the street patio (drinking only.) We sat in the front of the restaurant, near the crowded bar and under the balcony seating. The businesses in Lawrence, KS are all non-smoking, so we knew the air would be breathable from any table!
The place was humming, but we had no problem getting a table. We were thrilled when Tim arrived we hadnt seen him in more than a year and missed him so much, plus he was our guide to local beer! The staff was extremely friendly, and they knew about beer, which is always a help. They had three beers of the day on the menu, offered at a reduced price, but everything was reasonably priced anyway.
We tried four of the styles they had on tap (We were too excited about seeing Tim to take great notes on the variety of beers available):
Belgian Wheat (4.8% ABV; 16 IBU) this Wit style beer features a sprinkling of oats in unmalted wheat with Mt. Hood hops, Kansas honey, coriander and two types of orange peel. It was light yellow and cloudy with a bright white head, and the flavors of citrus and spice made it very enjoyable on this very hot day
Copperhead Pale Ale (5.5% ABV; 52.5 IBU) made with
Yakima and Chinook hops, this pale ale had a terrific dry-hopped aroma and refreshing, crisp flavor. It is a local favorite.
Ad Astra Ale (4.5% ABV; 24 IBU) Tim ordered this amber; pretty non-descript, but apparently tastiest when mixed with the Possum Trot Brown Ale.
Oatmeal Stout (5.7% ABV; 42 IBU) I didnt try this one, but D said it was similar to the Blackhawk Stout at Old Court, but the oatmeal gave it better body. Made with Northern Brewer and Fuggles Hops.
The menu at Free State was really nice, although I didnt take great notes on the sorts of things they had again, too interested in reuniting with our friend. I ate the fish and chips, which I really enjoyed. Tim and Carolyn both got the same salad pieces of smoked trout on a bed of watercress with a tasty fruited dressing. It was a Monday night, and the traffic in this place never stopped. We walked the length of the downtown and back, and the line appeared to only get longer as the evening went on.
05-28-2007 08:59:47 |
More by Deuane
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
Free State is a large restaurant-style brewpub with a family-friendly atmosphere. Well kept inside, there are smoking and nonsmoking sections. The small, clean bar is centrally located. There are two stories of seating. The service is always quality, prompt and helpful. The food is very tasty! There is a surprising "quality" and "style" to the entrees. The prices are not too bad either.
The beers are very much worth a quaff. They carry a nice range of styles at any given time and they do rotate seasonal beer on a regular basis. I've you want something particular check out their website, they keep tabs as to what is on-tap. Let the beer reviews speak for themselves.
I would come during off-peak hours because this place gets BUSY! During lunch and dinner you can expect to wait. Free State is located downtown near a nice array of shops. There is plenty of on-street, metered parking. I always look forward to my next visit. Recommended.
02-15-2003 10:04:48 |
More by bditty187
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2.5 | $$
Stopped by Free State on a 1/2 day road trip to Lawrence and Topeka while visiting a friend in KC.
It's in the cute downtown area of Lawrence. We found easy street parking and fed 50 cents to a meter.
There's a nice patio space out front, and the interior is great. Big open space with some lofted seating and brewing equipment behind glass. Unfortunately it was busy when we got there, so they led us into a drab back room.
Beer selection was pretty good. Eight on tap, including a decent IPA.
The food was not that great. The burger was a little dry and served only with lettuce, on an onion bun that was a bit burnt. The fries were good though. The thai noodles were bland and just tasted like soy sauce.
Our service was good enough, especially considering they were busy.
10-04-2011 00:54:57 |
More by shivtim
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $
Very nice place. I went to KU so I've been to Freestate quite a bit and may be a little bias. However, since living in Denver for a while I miss this brewery: It's good, small, friendly, inexpensive, and unique.
The beer selection is good, but of course could use more. John Brown ale is my favorite, but every beer there is recommended, at least.
The atmosphere is pure Lawrence: liberal, hippie-ish and very friendly. Not a sports bar, but has one TV if KU is playing.
Food is great! Try the catfish of the Blackbean quesadilla. Cheddar Ale soup is delicious!
I miss this place :(
01-02-2006 20:24:06 |
More by Mebuzzard
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4 | $$
Stopped by on a Saturday for lunch, was pretty busy. Makes me wonder how packed this place is when U is in session
The place had a nice open & airy feel, but not a place that just reeks of atmosphere
The quality of the beer ran from good (most) to very good of the 5 I tried
Service was good & friendly
8 Beers on tap one lager & 7 ales
The food was tasty & there were many items left on the menu I will try in the future
Beers & food weren't too pricey, niether was the grower I purchased ($11 for a jug &a fill )
Not a place I would go out my way to hit again unless Bachus is on tap. But will visit this again when near Lawerence
07-08-2012 23:17:22 |
More by russpowell
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Free State Brewing Co. in Lawrence, KS
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