Brian and Mary Rooney spent last Friday evening applying labels to aluminum cans and preparing for a major milestone. Today, the brewery, BKS Artisan Ales, announced its first soft opening, a ticketed tasting event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21 at the brewery (633 E. 63rd St., #120). Tickets go on sale Wednesday, Oct. 18.
“The ticket includes five pours of beers that we are releasing and a couple of test batches we have been working on,” Brian, a homebrewer with eight years of experience, said.
In addition to the tasting event, Brian and Mary also announced they will open the tasting room from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22 for retail to-go (no draft pours) of bottles and cans of the beers that were featured at the tasting event.
“The idea with the Sunday can and bottle release is to ensure we get our beers into the hands of those that weren’t able to get tickets to the tasting event,” Brian said.
Brian’s path from homebrewing to professional brewing began because of a supply problem.
“The beers Mary and I like to drink aren’t always available here, so I started to brew my own,” he said. “I like to brew in areas where there’s no style classification.”
The beers featured at the tasting event, and available for to-go sale on Oct. 22, include the Vacation Island series of tropical, tiki-inspired session goses, or sour ales, such as Mai Tai, Margarita, and Mimosa. Rockhill and Locust, a nutty English-style pub ale, features Oddly Correct coffee roasters’ Kenyan roast. Counterculture, a Citra and Mosaic dry-hopped Northeast-style IPA, presents a golden hazy color, smooth bitterness, and a soft mouthfeel. Brian has also captured wild yeast from the family ranch in northeast Arkansas, owned by Mary’s father. The wild yeast is used in their Belgian-inspired farmhouse ale, Biere de Rosie. The first test batch of this beer will be poured at the tasting event and is a variant that includes peaches from Campbell, Missouri.
The 2,000 square-foot brewery and 50-seat tasting room with patio has been in development for more than a year. A second-story with 1,800 square-feet of space is currently under construction to house the barrel-aged sour beer program. BKS will host a series of ticketed soft openings for bottle and can sales on weekends through November to ease into their opening phase.
“We hope to have enough stock of kegs to begin regular Saturday tasting room hours in December,” Brian said.
Red Crow Brewing Prepares to Move
Red Crow Brewing Company (20561 S. Lone Elm Road, Spring Hill, Kansas) celebrates its second anniversary this month in the midst of its search for a new location. Founded by Mistie and Chris Roberts and Mistie’s parents, Joe and Loretta Fisher, the brewery and taproom created a much-needed craft beer destination in the greater Olathe area.
Growth has exceeded the founders’ expectations. New fermenters were added after six months and 15 months of operation to boost production capacity.
“We have tripled the brewhouse production capacity by 300 percent with the addition of two 15-barrel fermenters and a 15-barrel brite tank,” head brewer Chris said. “This has allowed us to have more beers on tap than last year, as well as allowing us to experiment with other styles of beers we hadn’t brewed in the past.”
Earlier this year, Red Crow began distribution of kegs to bars on the Kansas side.
“By 18 months, we had completed our five-year business plan,” CEO Mistie said. “So we’re back to the drawing board and starting fresh, and we are so excited.”
Now the brewery faces its next big challenge.
“We decided we needed to move from our current location,” Chris said. “It was not an easy decision nor one that we took lightly. It is what is best for our company and us. Uprooting a business that is not even two years-old is stressful and a lot of work but also exciting.”
Red Crow needs to relocate by Jan. 31, 2018.
“Even though we don’t have a new location locked in, we are looking to move into Olathe,” Mistie added.
Cinder Block Brewery is Four Years Old
Founded by Bryce Schaffter, Cinder Block Brewery (110 E. 18th Ave., North Kansas City, Missouri) was one of the first brewhouses and taprooms to open during the recent local brewing boom in greater Kansas City.
Since opening four years ago, the brewery has added an additional 4,200 square-feet, including an event space, patio and kitchen. Approximately 2,200 square-feet went to additional production equipment and storage for materials. The added equipment enabled Cinder Block to boost production not only for its taproom, but also to supply draft accounts at bars and restaurants.
“We doubled the number of draft accounts we serve in the market as of last year,” Schaffter said. “We don’t see us slowing down with expanded distribution to the rest of the city.”
This year, the brewery won a bronze medal for its flagship Northtown Native ale in the Dortmunder or German-style Oktoberfest division at the Great American Beer Festival. Cinder Block was the only Kansas City area brewery to earn medal recognition.
Cinder Block Brewery released The Great White Brett (5.5-percent ABV, less than 10 IBUs), a lambic-style beer available in the taproom in limited quantities. The taste incorporates citrus, hay and ripe fruit flavors with mild clove and tartness. The beer was blended from a three-year-old barrel-aged, mixed-culture beer.
“The beer contained a variety of Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus strains with initial fermentation through a Belgian yeast strain,” Schaffter said. “The barrels themselves were neutral wine barrels with the original batch comprised of six 60-gallon barrels. Of the six, only four barrels were selected with a percentage of each barrel used to create the final blend.”
In early November, look for Cinder Block’s Cinder Noel (9.9-percent ABV, 30 IBUs), a Belgian strong ale made with a blend of Belgian malts, fresh coriander and orange zest.
The Belfry (1532 Grand Blvd.) offers beer, wine and spirit tastings on the first Tuesday, second Wednesday and third Thursday of the month. Email events@TheBelfryLounge.com to RSVP.
Boulevard Brewing Company (2501 Southwest Blvd.) has released its 2017 version of Snow & Tell (6.3-percent, 28 IBUs), an interpretation of a Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy style. The beer’s initial aromas introduce fig, raisins, caramel and toffee. Lingering malt sweetness transitions to spicy/herbal hop flavors coupled with a drying, oaky character, according to ambassador brewer Jeremy Danner. Available in six-packs of twelve-ounce bottles and on draft.
Colony KC (312 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri) has released Shuttlehop No. 2 (6.8-percent ABV, 38 IBUs), featuring Ekuanot, Huell Melon, Citra and Mosaic hops, with notes of guava, papaya, melon and citrus.
See the calendar below for additional beer releases.
— Pete Dulin writes about food trends for Flatland and is the author of The KC Ale Trail. Follow @FlatlandKC and #TapList on Twitter for more food news and trends.