"Water is very important to me not just because it's part of my job, but because without water, you can't have a beer," said Bill Bensing, Director of Public Services for the City of Kirkwood and craft beer enthusiast. Bill started visiting local breweries at the start of the craft beer movement in 2008. Since then, he has patronized over 100 microbreweries and has the merch to prove it.
Bill's basement could be described as a micro-museum filled with memorabilia from breweries across town, the country, and the ocean. "I started collecting growlers and pint glasses from each brewery, but then I ran out of room, so now I collect stickers," said Bill.
"I like to go to find the uniqueness of each brewery and how it fits into the town," said Bill. "A lot of times, I'll choose a brewery to visit based on the uniqueness of its name." While Bill doesn't often visit the same brewery more than once, he did say that Scratch Brewing Company in Ava, Illinois, is one of his favorites in the region. Bill's top pick for a combined microbrewery and winery is Bias Winery in Berger, Missouri. If you want to travel a little farther, "Top of the Rock Restaurant and Brewery in Jasper, Tennessee, is another favorite because of the beautiful views," he noted.
Of course, the beer's taste is the best part of the craft brew experience. Bill suggests ordering a flight of beer and a local favorite food dish as the best way to immerse yourself in the town's microbrew culture. "Try something new. Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company in Madeira Beach, Florida, has a spiced imperial sweet potato ale called I YAM WHAT I YAM. I've had Cotton Candy beer from a brewery in Lee's Summit. The most unique flavor I've ever tasted was a sundried tomato beer." When asked what Bill's favorite beer is, he smiled and said, "The one in my hand."