Free State Brewing Co.

Free State Brewing Co.Free State Brewing Co.
Free State Brewing Co.Free State Brewing Co.
Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

636 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, Kansas, 66044-2236
United States

(785) 843-4555 | map

View: Beers | Place Reviews
Reviews: 69 | Ratings: 124 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by LambicPentameter:
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LambicPentameter from Nebraska

4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

If you like personal space and a nice, quiet dinner, Free State is not the place for you.

But if you like a bustling atmosphere filled by locals who appreciate good beer and a bit of raucous fun, then you have to make a pilgrimage to this Lawrence, Kansas brewing icon.

I've been here so many times that it seems silly to review based on a single visit, so I will review based on my overall impression from years of going here. My last visit was, alas, a month and a half ago. For starters, as noted, it is very noisy. The main room has lots of hard surfaces, including a massive wall of windows looking into the brewing tanks, and there is a loft, so it is a two-story room. This all makes for a place for lots of noise and echoes. The bar area is often crowded with people either waiting for tables or sampling the beers, but there is a nice porch on the front of the brewpub that allows for a little more space and ample people-watching in warmer weather.

The selection of beers relies on a list of everyday classics, interspersed with some seasonal favorites. To me, Free State has always struck me as a fusion of German and American brewing traditions. Ad Astra altbier and Free State Golden kolsch are a couple of their long-standing favorites (that they now bottle), but they also have a healthy rotation of various IPAs and stouts. And there is nothing quite like sampling them from the source.

The food is actually quite delicious, and they work hard at incorporating beer into the menu items. Their best dish for my money is the fish and chips, a pub staple. But you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Service is hit or miss, but never bad. Sometimes it's excellent, and other times it's just fine. And it's never bad enough to ruin the great food and wonderful beers. Fun fact: Free State had to petition the state to become the first legal brewery in Kansas after the repeal of Prohibition.

May 15, 2013
More User Reviews:
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.26/5  rDev +3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Large brewery with lots of seating located off of the main strip in downtown Lawrence. Exterior is reminiscent of an Irish pub, with ornate woodwork and large windows. Inside, the woodwork continues, illuminated by natural light from the front windows and lots of lighting otherwise. This space feels organic, not curated for Instagram posts or some new-age interior design - it's comfortable. Seating is available all over, between several rooms. Space is well kept and clean, as is the glassware. Service is good, working well to pair beers with meals. Selection spans their own brewed beers, which tend to be a little bit more old-school in their styles. Styles lean much more towards the sessionable and social beers rather than heavy. Food is good as well. Kid friendly. Fun space to visit on Massachusetts street either before a concert, during a visit to the college campus, or simply a mid-day stroll up and down Mass street.

Dec 09, 2019
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Manthon from Pennsylvania

4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Apr 21, 2019
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stercomm from Ohio

3.85/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.75

Neat little place in downtown Lawrence, KS. Stopped in around 2PM for a late lunch, sat in the upstairs area which overlooks the first floor bar. A very laid back atmosphere, good service, food selection was good. I had a Free State Golden Kolsch which hit the spot. light and refreshing. Was traveling through, looked and felt like a fun place to chill and have a few brews.

Jan 12, 2019
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wbe7447 from Kansas

1.06/5  rDev -74.3%
vibe: 1 | quality: 1 | service: 1.25 | selection: 1 | food: 1

Jun 23, 2018
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The_Epopt from Texas

3.54/5  rDev -14.1%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.25 | selection: 3.5

Nice pub vibe, mix of regulars with people showing up before the game at KU. Had a hard time getting the bartender to give me my first beer but finally got it. Seems like a good local hangout.

May 20, 2018
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J_Arbizzle from Kansas

3.23/5  rDev -21.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5 | food: 2

Nov 19, 2017
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mojohawk21 from Missouri

4.35/5  rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Feb 12, 2017
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locoformavs from Colorado

4.1/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Dec 28, 2016
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TRIKLZ from Kansas

3.45/5  rDev -16.3%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Dec 04, 2016
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fredmugs from Indiana

4.48/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Sep 16, 2016
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SmellsofMahagony from Texas

4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Jul 19, 2016
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AGoodStout from Kansas

4.16/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Jul 10, 2016
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JISurfer from South Carolina

4.06/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.75

Service and Selection were the highlights here. Had the Cloud Hopper Imperial IPA, a great IIPA. The waitress was very good at her job, kept water glasses full, checking back every so often. Food was ok, nothing to get crazy about, then again, I just had a grilled chicken sandwich. They have a ton of different styles on tap. Hard not to find something you like.

May 30, 2016
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GrenPa1016 from Massachusetts

3.73/5  rDev -9.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

May 21, 2016
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ThurstonHowell3 from Kentucky

3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Feb 01, 2016
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KSBlacksnake from Kansas

4.74/5  rDev +15%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

A must try if you are in the KC/Lawrence area. Quality beer, great food all in an awesome college town atmosphere. They love their hops so will always have 3 -4 hoppy beers on tap along with their wheat, oatmeal stout and always great Ad Astra which is listed as an Altbier.

Jan 11, 2016
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jrb378 from Pennsylvania

4.75/5  rDev +15.3%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.75

Dec 27, 2015
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barleywin from Missouri

4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

Oct 10, 2015
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DelMontiac from Oklahoma

4.64/5  rDev +12.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

I was in Lawrence for a devilish rock show on 10/05/2015. The location is perfectly set up for visiting lovers of good brew and good music with Free State, Liberty Hall, and the Eldridge Hotel each within a few footsteps of the others. Not to mention, it's a beautiful downtown area right off the KU campus. Well done, Lawrence.

I entered Free State at around 5 pm after a stroll downtown. The place was already in full swing at the smallish bar which was full with people standing around it chatting with glasses of various shapes and sizes in hand. The fermentation tanks and all the workings are behind a glass partition next to the bar - typical kind of thing. There are tables outside for the smokers. Don't dig having to walk through the smoke at the front door, but also pretty typical for a downtown sidewalk venue. There is seating on two levels, upstairs giving you either a nice view of the patrons, bar and brewing below or a view out the large windows to the street. Not a large establishment, but very nice and airy.

I was seated up stairs immediately by a friendly hostess and a young waitress took my beer order for an Oktoberfest as I looked over the menu. Very impressive menu. I love a good reuben sandwich, so I kept with the Oktoberfest theme. The beer was fantastic. I also tried their Lovejoy IPA which was nice too. Sandwich was grilled a bit too crispy according to the roof of my mouth later on, but still good. The real star on my plate, however was the potato salad. Best potato salad every...stuff of dreams. I'm not kidding.

After 3 beers, the reuben, potato salad, pickles, and two of their Belgian style short tulip glasses, I only spent about $27. Not bad at all! So for the money, it's five stars in that category. I mean, I've spent that much on 4-5 beers in other brewpubs.

I will definitely go back to the Free State pub. I've been drinking their fantastic beers for years and they're even better in person. Even if you're in the Kansas City area, they're only about 30 miles away. Go check 'em out!

Oct 07, 2015
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professorpint from New York

4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Stopped by Free State on a Thursday and liked it so much that I came back the next day. Friendly bartenders and regulars create a positive vibe of camaraderie that is very welcoming. Had the limited release Yakimaniac IPA and was very impressed. The food is above average pub grub with some creative vegetarian options. Picked up a 4 pack of the Cloud Hopper Imperial IPA which is excellent. Honestly wasn't expecting much from a brewery in Kansas but Free State crushed it, and Lawrence was actually a cool town with a kick-ass record store and multiple book stores.

Aug 14, 2015
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SCW from New York

4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.25

Jul 27, 2015
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lovegarden from Kansas

4.65/5  rDev +12.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Free State is one of the best breweries in Kansas. Located in Lawrence, Kansas, they offer only their own brew, and they usually have a wide variety. You can also get their beer at stores around the region. My two favorites are their Old Backus Barleywine and Oatmeal Stout.

Free State has excellent food, and I have never had a bad meal at this establishment. I recommend their fish and chips or their Sonoma Shrimp Fettuccine.

The atmosphere is great, but it can get crowded. Check out their website and use their text ahead seating.

Jul 21, 2015
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WillieThreebiers from Connecticut

4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Jul 14, 2015
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johnyb from Florida

4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Jun 21, 2015
Free State Brewing Co. in Lawrence, KS
Brewery rating: 3.84 out of 5 with 2462 ratings