Welcome to another edition of the Beer of the Week!
As always, the Beer of the Week will be presented on the Arrowhead Pride Tailgate on 610 Sports Radio. This week’s show will happen between 10 a.m. and noon on Sunday.
It’s a home game this week, which means I’m featuring a local brewery that deserves your attention. I toured the facility last August and was absolutely wowed by their beers, so it’s my pleasure to introduce this week’s Beer of the Week: River Bluffs Brewing’s Sandy Dunes Saison!
An 8% ABV offering, this is the 2019 Silver Medal winner for Belgian-style Pale Strong Ale at the Great American Beer Festival. A light-bodied beer, this Saison has notes of pepper and fruit to go with a mild bitterness and the sweet funkiness of the yeast. The quality of this beer is apparent upon first sip — these guys at River Bluffs know what they’re doing.
River Bluffs Brewing opened in late 2018 in St. Joseph, Missouri — home of Kansas City Chiefs training camp for the past several years. When I sampled the brewery’s offerings in August, I was floored at the quality such a young brewery is achieving. It wasn’t just one or two beers that stood out; it was the entire tap wall. They’ve truly got something for everybody, with a fantastic Speedliner IPA, a rich amber Arrowhead Red — and their upcoming Barrel Aged release on November 2.
River Bluffs has a fantastic space, hosting big concerts and events regularly. The building is a wonderful old pre-Prohibition brewery that was brought back to life and now houses some of the best beers in the area.
It was my pleasure to speak with co-founder and Director of Marketing Edison “Eddie” Derr this week. Eddie happened to be our guide when we visited last August, and showed us a fantastic time.
CS: You just won a silver medal for Sandy Dunes at the Great American Beer Festival. What was it like to be recognized just a year after the brewery was formed?
ED: Winning the Silver with Sandy Dunes was such an honor with it being the first year in business for us. We always talk amongst ourselves about how much we love the quality of our beer, but we also know there are thousands of tasty brews out there. We were hopeful — but far from sure — we would win anything in our first GABF. When it happened, we were all just full of pride that we were recognized for delivering quality beer.
CS: The brewery is very tied into the city of St. Joseph. What made you choose it as your ideal location?
ED: We chose our location here in St. Joseph because there is a large swath of people here that were hungry — I guess actually thirsty — for a local brewery. There is a very rich history of breweries in this city, so we had a feeling that as long as we went all in and delivered a quality experience — as well as quality brews — the people would support us.
Chris and I were for sure tired of driving every other day to KC to get killer craft beer. So I guess in a way, building it here was mostly a selfish decision! Haha.
CS: You’ve got all kinds of St. Joseph nostalgia in your brewery. For those who haven’t been yet, can you describe some of the pieces of local history around the brewery?
ED: Our brewery is stuffed with historical items from the area — from the actual doorway of the Pioneer Building that burnt down a few years ago to an old wooden Speedliner boat that was built here in St. Joseph. But the best part is the building itself, which includes old fermentation cellars that date back to 1851 when the Avenue Brewery was located here, as well as the main floor that was built in the early 1900s as Lawler Ford. There are so many stories to be told — truthfully it would take a week to go through them all!
CS: You have a history as an athletic trainer. How did you make the leap from sports to beer?
ED: Making a leap from sports to beer really occurred when I first got started as an athletic trainer. My first job in that industry was in Delaware, not far from Dogfish Head Brewing Company. Talk about some great beer and some great beaches to enjoy them on! When I relocated out here I found myself constantly craving locally crafted beer, and that’s when Chris and I met and realized we shared the love of great craft beer. Long story short, after a few beers here we are. I love everything about athletics and have a ton of respect for athletic trainers still, but it was just time to try something else. ATC’s are some of our best customers! They don’t have it easy, but I have never met one that didn’t put their all in it.
CS: Finally, a prediction — what’s the score of this Sunday’s Chiefs/Vikings matchup?
ED: I usually don’t make predictions before my eighth pint but I’ll make an exception..... Chiefs defense steps up with some bend-but-don’t-break D for a 24-12 victory!
Many thanks to Eddie Derr and River Bluffs Brewing for taking time out to answer some questions — and for making great beer!
Check back here this time next week for the new Beer of the Week!