Tallgrass Brewery in Manhattan, KS

I posted on Facebook last week that I’d thought up a surprise outing for me and J. I’d planned it for later in April but decided to go ahead and do it sooner, as our original plans fell through due to places we wanted to see having closed.

The surprise outing was a trip to Tallgrass Brewery in Manhattan. J likes beer, and though he doesn’t drink it a lot, he has a deep appreciation for the taste and the process. I, on the other hand, have turned into a wine drinker. But I remember the days when beer was my thing, and I figured going to an old fashioned beer tasting and tour would be fun.
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Let me say first that we didn’t actually get around to the tour part. We’d wanted to, but at that point, my foot had already started to hurt, and I didn’t think I was up for the walk. Instead, we sat down at one of the tables and started with the tasting.
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Tallgrass tours are free, but for tasting, you pay five dollars and get a sampler glass and six tickets for samples. Tours start at 2, 3, and 4 on Saturdays and go for about a half hour. The rest of the time, you can sit in the sampling room or stand at the bar and taste away.
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The atmosphere was good and the staff was friendly. The stool type chairs were a little uncomfortable for my big butt, but they weren’t horrible. Sitting on the outside edge was better, especially when people started coming in. Because when they did, it got crowded in there really fast.
I’ll be honest…I don’t even remember what I sampled. Not because I got drunk (I was driving, after all), but because I really have lost my taste for beer. I know there was a grapefruit beer that I didn’t like at all. The last one I tried was actually really good and suited my taste buds. Tallgrass makes a brew called Buffalo Sweat, and the sample was a Vanilla Bean version of that stout. I really liked it. J said that even if I’m not a beer drinker in general, I may have an affinity for stouts.
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J had a great time and really enjoyed most of the beers he tried, which was what I was aiming for. We had fun sitting and chatting and people-watching. Before we left, we met another couple who were out for the day. We visited for awhile, then decided to take off to hang with some friends for the rest of the evening.
We’re definitely planning on going again, though I’ll likely curb my drinking to a stout or two and then volunteer as designated driver. Next time, we’ll also take the actual tour. If any Manhattan friends want to join us, it’s definitely the kind of place to have a good friendly gathering.

Flint Hills Discovery Center

Our original plan when visiting the Flint Hills Discovery Center was to check out the place where they’d be holding a lecture later that week. The problem with public lectures is often seating and comfort, so we wanted to check beforehand to make sure this was going to work for us.
Flint Hills Discovery Center
Flint Hills Discovery Center
After arriving there, we decided to go ahead and by a day pass to explore the museum. We started by seeing their film, which includes features such as blowing air and smoke to “immerse” the audience in the narration of the film. Then we explored the areas and looked at the exhibits about the Flint Hills and Kansas in general.
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It was a fun place to visit, and it would be fun to take my nephews or niece there if they were to come this way for a visit. It gave me a new perspective on Kansas, and the exhibits were interesting. There are certain areas that are free to the public, including the lobby, which has a kiosk that lets visitors plan an itinerary of other places to see in Kansas, and a third floor terrace which overlooks part of Manhattan and gives a distant view of the Hills.
At the time I originally wrote this blog, there were a few things I was kind of bummed about. One was the fact that the art gallery portion wasn’t open, but in order to visit it again, we’d have to pay the admission fee or purchase a membership. Because it didn’t strike us as the kind of place we’d visit multiple times, both options seemed a little iffy. I was also a little disappointed when they said they used “youth chairs” for their lectures. I can’t imagine anyone being comfortable in what I perceived as kid chairs, even smaller people than J and I.
However, in a weird twist of events, my point of view has changed a bit. Part of that was the fact that we did attend a lecture there and it turned out to be really comfortable. Kudos to the DC for having really good, sturdy chairs for their visitors.
The other part was that as part of one of his classes, J. ended up getting a membership, and we found out that the FHDC is part of a large network of museums, so this membership will allow us to visit other museums all over the country. And the privileges mean that I can attend other museums with him at no charge because it gives family benefits too.
However, after thinking about it, I’ve decided to go ahead and get a membership as well. It works out to less than a couple dollars a month, and it will allow us to see all the exhibits (the family benefits only kick in at museums that are over 90 miles a way from where we live). Plus, the charitable part of me wants to be able to say I contributed to something cool, and we can incorporate the Discovery Center as another place to take walks.
I’ll be signing up for a membership in a couple days, when the FHDC has its Discovery Day to celebrate being open a year. Admission is free, so even though signing up for the membership won’t really allow us to take advantage of that, we’re going to see some of the cool things they’re doing (plus we’ve planned for this to be our museum day in Manhattan. I’m currently nursing a bum foot, but praying it’ll be better in the next day or so, so I can go exploring).
Also, the terrace is amazingly calm. I plan to utilize this space for “down time” in the future.
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Exploring MHK: Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery

The trip to Fort Worth really flipped a switch, and I’m riding it out until the switched gets flipped back the other way.
I didn’t think Manhattan had that many places to look at art and such. While the Manhattan Arts Center isn’t someplace I go for events, they do have regular exhibits that are fun to view. Beyond that, I thought most things were on campus, which is territory I’ve avoided for the most part. But upon doing some research, I found some really neat places.
Down on Poyntz Avenue is The Strecker-Nelson Art Gallery which houses a permanent collection for sale on the lower level and a rotating exhibit on the second floor. Not rotating as in it moves, but they change it out every 6-7 weeks.
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Besides loving the art they had on display, I was thrilled with out friendly the people are. Not everyone in this town is friendly, and some places we’ve visited have had an air of pretentiousness that’s really off-putting. But the staff talked to us about the displays, about the art, and everyone greeted us warmly as we walked through.
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I’m excited to make this gallery a regular stop to see new art and new exhibits. I recommend it as a spot to visit and as a source of presents for my upcoming birthday (just in case you were looking).