Wichita Brewing Company’s pizza-a-month contest went so well in 2017, the local brewery is starting it over in 2018 – only this time it’ll have a bunch of new restaurants participating and a fun prize for customers.
Last January, owners Greg Gifford and Jeremy Horn invited me and 11 local restauranteurs to invent pizzas that they served at both Wichita Brewing Company restaurants, 8815 W. 13th St. and 535 N. Woodlawn, throughout 2017. The restaurants, whose owners were supporters of WBC and/or had WBC craft beer on tap, could invent any sort of pizza they wanted using the toppings the restaurant had in stock plus up to five wild ingredients of their choice. Each participant was assigned a month with a promise that the creators of the highest-selling pizza would earn a party at the brewery’s production and canning facility.
The big winner was Hangar One Steakhouse, who made the November pizza. Chef Richard Patton wanted to make a Chicago-style pizza, Gifford said, but since the brewery makes only thin-and-crispy crust, they came up with an alternative: a play on the restaurant’s “itis” style of pizza that featured two crusts with a layer of melted provolone cheese between them. The pizza was then topped with red sauce, shaved beef, Italian sausage, red peppers and a spicy giardiniera. People loved it, Gifford said, and the restaurant sold 883 of them in November.
For 2018, the brewery invited me to participate again plus the top five sellers from 2017: Hangar One, Carlos O’ Kellys, District Taqueria, The Anchor and The Monarch. Six new participants also have signed up: Noble House, The Hill Bar and Grill, Texas Roadhouse, Firebirds, Doo-Dah Diner and Norton’s Brewing Company, an under-construction brewery that will open later this year at 125 N. St. Francis.
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I’m up first, and my new pizza went on sale on Monday. Last year, I tried something Tex-Mex, but this year, I decided to feature everyone’s favorite protein: bacon. My BLT pizza turned out better than I even expected and features an herby mayo base that’s topped with white Cheddar cheese, mozzarella and a generous serving of WBC's brown sugared bacon. It's baked until golden then topped with sliced tomatoes, fresh arugula and a drizzle of Ranch dressing. My “BLTerrific” pizza is on sale through the end of the month.
New this year: Fans of the contest can pick up a punch card, and anyone who tries at least 10 of the 12 featured pizzas will get an “I Ate Wichita” T-shirt, with a logo designed by local artist Chris Parks. Based on last year, Gifford said, he expects many people will qualify.
“We even had one customer who tweeted his favorite pizzas, from one through 12,” he said.
Here’s the 2018 lineup:
January: Dining with Denise
February: The Monarch
March: Doo-Dah Diner
April: Carlos O’ Kelly’s
May: The Hill Bar & Grill
June: Texas Roadhouse
July: Hangar One Steakhouse
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August: Noble House Hawaiian
September: The Anchor
October: Norton’s Brewing Company
December: District Taqueria
Co-owner Greg Gifford has used his metal-working skills to fill his restaurants with unique decor -- and the "beer-amid." Video by Denise Neil.