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Downtown Lawrence has much to offer any cerevisaphile, gastronome, epicure, enthusiast, foodie, bon vivant, or any parent who's interested in taking the night off from cooking. But as far as restaurants go around here, there aren't many that are as sought after as Free State Brewery. Offering a menu with a variety of salads, appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts, all of which are incredible, Free State is best known for its array of craft beers brewed on-site. It's also well known for being the oldest brewery in the state of Kansas. But before I get too deep into all that, a history lesson is needed. Kansas has had a struggle, if you will, with alcohol. It's not that the state needs to lay off the sauce, it's more to do with those that would have rather seen Kansas as "bone-dry". Prohibitionists were active early in Kansas, and the movement to ban alcohol started almost as soon as people began to settle here. By the 1880's, they had won and prohibition was established well before the U.S. Congress passed the 18th Amendment. And so it went, all the way until 1948, when the state allowed local governments to make their own determinations of the sale and use of alcohol. Beer brewing had effectively been dead for quite some time. In fact, it wouldn't really get going again until 1989, when Free State Brewery opened its doors, and its taps, in Downtown Lawrence. Finally, serious craft brewing is now firmly established. Anchored by its main offerings such as Ad Astra Ale (which is named after the state's motto), Copperhead Pale Ale, Wheat State Golden, and Oatmeal Stout, there are always several other seasonal and specialty choices throughout the year. A current peak at the "on tap" list reveals delights like Black Eye Rye Porter, Festivus Ale, and Post Rock Pilsner. You can even purchase Free State beers in local liquor stores, since they expanded their brewing services a few years back. Servicing Kansas and some nearby local states, Free State's offerings can now be found throughout the region. My personal favorite is Ironman Imperial Stout, and as its name suggests, it's quite heavy and incredibly delicious! As good as the beer is, some might say the food is even better. Every time I go with my wife, I struggle to decide what I'm having this time. A Cuban sandwich? Artichoke Tomato Tortellini? The Pastrami Reuben? I always have trouble nailing it down. My wife, on the other hand, has a classic favorite she rarely strays from because it is simply that great: The Fish & Chips. And don't skip out of dessert either, the La Prima Tiramisu is to die for! It's often crowded, so expect a short wait for dinner. But don't worry, you can text them before you leave home to reserve your spot in line, and this is a restaurant that is always worth the wait. Free State Brewery is one of the things that makes Downtown Lawrence the great destination it is known to be. I would say that it is the crown jewel of Downtown, and some might agree. But there are enough gems here for royalty, and when they sparkle as bright as Free State Brewery, they attract hungry eyes from miles around.