Blind Tiger Brewery (Topeka, KS)

The morning was so nice! After a cooling overnight shower, things were greener and extremely pleasant. Tim treated us to his home roasted coffee, and his mom made pancakes for all of us. It was a great time to chat with her, and relax a little.

By 11:30 AM, we were ready to get out to do something, and our first stop was Blind Tiger Brewery & Restaurant. This place was named for prohibition era custom of exhibiting stuffed tigers in the window to indicate that bootleg alcohol was available. And although they closed an hour early on Monday night, they opened an hour early on Tuesday. The building is a former grist mill turned dinner theater, and now brewing equipment sits in the stage area. The unique building is reminiscent of a tree house! It features multiple floor levels connected by graduated steps. Each little room is paneled in wood, and has windows overlooking the fermenting tanks and other sections of the building. There is a sun room with pool tables, an area outside for volley ball (which the owners won’t use for fear of liability), a large fireplace (which the owners won’t use for fear of liability), there use to be peanuts available for snacking (which the owners won’t serve for fear of liability…do you see a pattern?), ample large windows and banquet facilities.

This place has amazing potential as a restaurant, but as many people told me later, the reputation has dropped as the food quality and special features have dropped. That is not to say anything is bad about the beer! We travel for the brewery aspects, and this place is the best this area has to offer! There were 15 different beers on tap that day, and nothing we had was bad – most of them were great.

We did not get to meet the brewer, John Dean, but we will keep him on our radar in case Blind Tiger doesn’t make it (they’ve stopped selling gear and their menu is now short-order items, so it doesn’t look good for the restaurant.) He’s got talent and creativity, and all of the local craft beer drinkers recognize it.

I did small glasses, while the boys had pints. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many notes. I just know I was very impressed with everything. We tried the following beers:

  • Kansas Kolsch

  • Razzmatazz – like the Kolsch, only flavored with 88 pounds of fresh raspberries
  • Holy Grail Pale Ale
  • Ichabod ESB
  • Chief Burnett’s IPA
  • Prairie Dog Brown
  • Cup of Mud Java Porter – WOW!!! – it’s easy to see how this won the 2004 Gold at GABF
  • Grandmother’s Whiskey Stout – has a wonderful bourbon aroma and flavor; balanced enough to bring through the flavors of roasted malt and hop bitterness.  Not as terrific as the Java Porter, but very close.
  • Blind Tiger has won quite a few awards:

    • Gold – 2004 GABF for Cup of Mud Porter

    • Bronze – 2004 WBC for Rye (also won silver at the 2003 and 2004 GABF)

    • Gold – 2002 GABF for American Wheat

    • Silver – 2001 GABF for the Smoked Ale

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