People travel the country for history, scenery, and adventure, but when they cross the heartland to Hays, Kansas, they also do it for the beer. For over 40 years, Hays has been a destination for those seeking an Oktoberfest experience that celebrates the area’s German heritage — with a modern twist, thanks to renowned local brewers.
The beer culture in Hays took a giant leap forward in 2005 when Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co. opened 7,500 square feet of revitalized space in Downtown Hays. The multiple Great American Beer Festival Award banners lining the walls let you know you’re about to have one of the best beers of your life. (We’re looking at you, Oatmeal Stout.)
After taking over a former shipping plant, Defiance Brewery made a name for itself in the regional craft beer scene in a few short years. It was no surprise to locals when Defiance expanded their taproom after being open mere months, while growing their distribution all the way to the East Coast. The selection on draught at the taproom constantly changes as the owner-brewers try out new small batch brews on lucky craft beer enthusiasts.
For those with wine in mind, the Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Market, and Bistro recently opened on Main Street. Patrons enjoy flights of wine, including selections from nearby Resurrection Vineyard, a 100-year-old family farm that has found new life as a winery.
In 2016, more than 20 brewers set up in Downtown Hays for the first Brews on the Bricks beer festival. After a positive reception from locals and visitors alike, the event was expanded the following year, bringing in brewers from across Kansas and Colorado. In anticipation, 1,000 festival tickets sold out in 7 minutes.
If you’re ready to try a taste of Hays, get in line.