Free State Brewing Company - Ad Astra
- ABV: 5.1%
- Bottle Size: 12-oz
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 16
- Serving Temperature: 45-50º F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass or Mug
- Malts: 2-Row, Carafoam, Carahell, Munich, Acidulated
- Hops: Nugget, Fuggle
Ad Astra Amber Ale was the very first beer Free State brewed when they opened in 1989, becoming the first beer (legally) made in the state since the 19th century. Pouring a deep, ruddy amber hue with good clarity and a cap of beige foam, this brew wastes no time offering up its intriguing aroma. Look for a nice balance between caramel maltiness and fruity overtones, a theme which will play throughout this beer. We picked up touches of dried fruits and soft lemon, with that bold caramel merging into hints of bread crust. On the palate, that deep caramelization finds pleasant company with hints of apple, while a sturdy core of prominent, toasty, bready notes wells up and hangs on in the finish. Hop bitterness comes across mild to moderate with just a touch of spice, and again in perfect balance with the sweeter touches offered by the malts. For pairing options, we'd steer towards dishes with toasty and roasty character. Roasted pork tenderloin with brown gravy and/or applesauce, rotisserie chicken, and BBQ chicken pizza spring to mind. Enjoy!
Back in the 19th century, Kansas was host to as many as 113 breweries – until the state became the first to introduce alcohol prohibition into their constitution, wiping out the brewing culture that was so popular among the German immigrant population. It was the discovery of this history that inspired the brewing passion of Free State founder Chuck Magerl. It may also run in the blood; his grandfather brewed illegally during Prohibition, ending up in Leavenworth for a time. After studying brewing at UC Davis' top-notch brewing program, Chuck came back to Kansas where breweries were still prohibited. After successfully lobbying legislators in Topeka to change the laws, Chuck opened Free State in 1989, becoming the first (legal) brewery in the state since 1880.
Currently, Free State, which is still owned and helmed by Chuck Magerl, is one of a multitude of Kansas breweries that have opened in the intervening years, but they certainly remain among the best due in no small part to their excellent brewing staff. Current brewmaster, Steve Bradt, has been with the brewery since 1989, and brings a wealth of experience to bear in crafting Free State's delicious beer portfolio. He's judged at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, and has been a member of the Brewers Association's Board of Directors. Their Head of Downtown Brewing, Geoff Deman, is a Lawrence native who's been brewing at Free State since 2002, and also has GABF and WBC judging credits to his name, along with various awards.
In addition to providing their community with excellent beer, Free State supports their community with numerous events and charity fundraisers each year, including the annual 41-mile Brew to Brew Run in support of the fight against cystic fibrosis, which starts at Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Company and ends at Free State in Lawrence, KS. To learn more about the brewery and their downtown Lawrence brewpub, call 'em up at 785-843-4555 or visit www.freestatebrewing.com.
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