Ditch the Natty and opt for these Mid-MO brews

Columbia and Jefferson City offer a variety of microbrews from which to choose.

There comes a point in every drinker’s life when shotgunning Natty with the boys or sipping on Bud Select ceases to bring the same joy it once did. Like good wine or good food, good beer can spur pleasure that the cheap stuff just can’t provide.

Microbrews embody everything positive about the beer industry. They are local businesses who reject the money-grubbing, profit hounds like Anheuser-Busch and Miller.

Better yet, drinking good beer isn’t nearly as exclusive as drinking good wine.

You don’t have to travel to Napa or Bordeaux to sip on some hops and watch the game. Here are three breweries to cultivate your pallet that don’t require a hotel or extensive knowledge of fermentation.

Prison Brews, 305 Ash St., Jefferson City Beer newbies might want to stop at this prison-themed establishment first when looking for some more accessible brews. Prison Brews, located a short 20 minute drive down Highway 63, offers a variety of homemade beers (brewed on site) on tap with some peculiar names.

I ordered an “I Ain’t Your Honey Wheat” and sampled one of the breweries “Go To Jail Ale.” Both beers were light and flavorful, making them perfect for a lunchtime drink. The other five beers on tap also have clever names such as “Warden’s Winter Ale” and “Deathrow Oatmeal Stout.”

A lot of Prison Brews’ food also contains hints of beer. The beer bread is delicious, and the beer-battered onion rings are among the best I have ever had.

Broadway Brewery, 816 E. Broadway, Columbia

Broadway Brewery is no secret. It’s a Columbia favorite located right on, well, Broadway. We have written about its delicious food before, but we’re talking about its beer this time. The brewery boasts an impressive Broadway-brewed beer list, with more coming in the future. Whether you like dark beer (Porter) or something a little different (Barley Wine), Broadway Brewery has got something for your tastes.

I ordered a rye IPA that came out in a brandy glass. The beer was a beautiful burgundy color with a strong bite and was more full-bodied than your typical IPA. You probably only need one, as it tips the scales at more than 9 percent alcohol.

If you don't know what to order, ask your waiter what he/she thinks about each beer. They’ll give you vibrant descriptions and help you pair it with your food. Stop in between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. to midnight any day for $2.75 house drafts.

Flat Branch Pub & Brewing, 115 S. Fifth St., Columbia Like Broadway Brewery, if you stay in Columbia long enough, you’ll eat at Flat Branch. But the local favorite also has exceptional beer. Flat Branch’s selection differs from Broadway Brewery in that it isn’t afraid to try something different (and neither should you).

Take the Green Chili Beer, for example. It’s a lighter beer with a faint chili after taste. Stick your nose close to the beer and whiff. As my roommate put it, it smells like you could dip your chips in it because it smells so much like green chili.

If your tastes are darker, don’t miss out on “Z Best Coffee Stout,” a thick, creamy beer that might as well be sold at Starbucks, it’s so delicious. Do yourself a favor and order some beer-battered onion rings with beer mustard. It will make you believe that if there is a God, he loves beer in food.

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