Hands down the most remote beer destination I’ve ever visited in all my travels across this great land. Go ahead and punch “Hays, Kansas” into Google. No disrespect to the fine people of Kansas, but what is this place doing in Hays? However, if you find yourself in the position I did, having to drive from Kansas City to Colorado, in the middle of powering through 8 hrs of blindingly bleak and barren plains there is an oasis in the proverbial desert.
The 2013 Great American Beer Festival Small Brewpub and Small Brewer of the Year is right there off I-70 in Hays. Like many a Main Street, USA, what this town lacks in metropolitan action, it makes up with good warm hard-working people. These are craftsmen, putting in the time and effort to doing a job right.
That spirit is alive and well at Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing. Gella’s is all about home-cooking, the collective menu of Kansas’s grandmothers with an artisan twist. Beef stroganoff. Green Bean Potato and Dumpling Soup. Meatloaf. All certain to satisfy your soul and hunger.
But you’re getting the local specialties, starting with the Grebble (fried bread) with maple syrup and a sunflower pesto. Then you’re bellying up to a plate of Smothered Bierock, dough pockets stuffed with beef cabbage and cheddar. You weren’t reading this looking for a salad rec were you?
Now how bouts this brewery…Lb. has amassed 9 GABF medals. They’ve been bringing them home almost every other year since 2005, mostly for their stouts and wheat. The lauded American Wheat is noteworthy, as is the Downtown American Brown when it’s in its season.
Step into the heartland and a place that’s comfortable yet stylish, hip yet friendly, innovative yet classic. Gella’s and Lb. are good enough to be the destination not just a pit stop.