After more than a year of upheaval, Gene DeClue and Dan Hatcher, the two operational owners of Rock & Run Brewery and Pub (110 E. Kansas St., Liberty, Missouri), believe they’re turning a corner. They released their first canned beer, installed a new brewhouse system in their original location, and took steps to secure space in Liberty for a new production facility.
Let’s backtrack a moment. Last year, the new owner of the Bedinger Building began renovation next to Rock and Run’s brewpub. DeClue and Hatcher initially discussed expanding into that building once construction was complete. They later abandoned the idea and purchased a building in Kearney, Missouri, to launch a second brewery for additional production capacity.
During construction in May 2016, the entire Bedinger Building collapsed and subsequently damaged Rock and Run’s west wall. The destruction effectively limited the dining room space and bar on that side of the brewpub. Rock and Run expanded by taking over The Bell, a former restaurant and bar, located next door at 114 E. Kansas St.
Rock and Run’s temporary brewing outpost in Kearney enabled it to continue brewing while its primary brewhouse was out of commission. Now that the brewpub’s wall has been rebuilt, Rock and Run has fully regained its original dining space. In turn, DeClue and Hatcher made a series of key moves. They closed the Kearney operation. Its brewhouse system was sold to a prospective brewery operation in Excelsior Springs.
“The brewing operation in Kearney was always coming back to Liberty,” DeClue said.
A brand-new three-barrel brewhouse was installed in the Liberty brewpub next to the dining room.
“We started brewing on this system about five weeks ago,” DeClue said.
DeClue and Hatcher also have begun negotiations to finance a 9,000 square-foot building in Liberty. If the deal is completed within the next two months, that space will eventually house a 20-barrel production brewery, canning line, and 2,400 square-foot taproom.
“It was not an easy decision to close shop in Kearney,” DeClue said. “It was a better business decision to come back to Liberty.”
Other developments include signing a deal with Sparta Beverage, a Kansas City-based distributor, and contracting short-term with Weston Brewing Company to can Rock and Run’s Bleach Blonde Pale Ale. The pale ale is now available in cans at the brewpub, HyVee grocery stores, Red X, and other retail outlets.
Once the 20-barrel brewhouse is functional, Rock and Run anticipates producing beer in the new facility by early spring. It plans to move its canning operation in-house by mid-summer 2018.
“Other beers in the works to be canned include 5K IPA, Liberty Squared Golden Ale, and Ryely Porter, once labels are approved,” DeClue said.
Liberty Squared continues to be the brewpub’s best-selling beer, but the owners opted to can the pale ale first.
“Overall, sales of our beer have shot up,” DeClue said. “Once we canned Bleach Blonde, draft sales of it also went up.”
Behind the Beer: Double Shift Brewing Company’s Smoke Ritual
Brewery assistants Jon Conway and Annie Davis recently developed the recipe and brewed a 10-gallon batch of Smoke Ritual (11-percent ABV), a Smoked Quad brewed with oak-smoked wheat, under the tutelage of head brewer Bryan Stewart, and facilitated by owner Aaron Ogilvie of Double Shift Brewing Company (412 E. 18th St.).
“The inspiration [for the beer] actually came from a brewery in Minneapolis that I visited in June this year called Hammerheart,” Conway said. “They had a peat-smoked Irish red ale.”
The medium-bodied beer was brewed with Weyermann oak-smoked wheat malt made from German-grown wheat.
“Tasting reveals notes of sweet fig, stone fruit and hints of toffee. “The smoke slowly comes into play without being too extreme and builds up as the beer warms,” Conway said.
The aroma offers subtle smoke, sweet stone fruit notes, and a hint of fresh-baked bread.
“Depending on response, we will look at scaling [it] up later this year,” Stewart said.
Papa Louie’s tap list at Green Room Burgers and Beer (4010 Pennsylvania Ave., Suite D) includes Bird Lives (6.8-percent ABV, 100-plus IBUs), a beer brewed annually for famed jazz great Charlie Parker’s birthday. Also on tap, Raspberry Brown Cask Ale (5-percent ABV, 15 IBUs), Ez PA (4.5-percent ABV, 36 IBUs) and Belgian Pale Ale (4.2 ABV, 30 IBUs).
Double Shift Brewing Company (412 E. 18th St.) has revised its roster of flagship beers. Out: ’80s Saisontage, Briar & Bramble and Don’t Call Me Radio. In: Tessellation IPA, Tin Foil Hat Saison, Sister Abby American Dubbel and River Pirate Oatmeal Stout.
The tap list at Martin City Brewing Company Pizza and Taproom (500 E. 135th St.) includes several taproom-only offerings, such as Reckless Engineering (6.7-percent ABV, 30 IBUs), an English-style old ale aged in an oak foeder with a fruity aroma from Brettanomyces yeast. Also on tap, Cha Cha Magic Nitro Stout (4.9-percent ABV, 35 IBUs) touts rich roasted coffee flavor with hints of raisin and bread, and a creamy texture. Pinkies Up (3.9-percent ABV, 5 IBUs) is a tart, refreshing blackberry and lime thirst-quencher with a deep pink color and citrusy zing. Green Light (5.5 percent ABV, 45 IBUs), a session IPA, is gold-colored with a floral aroma and a tropical fruit-citrus flavor profile.
The Big Rip Brewing Company (216 E. Ninth Ave., North Kansas City, Missouri) will release Twins Cherry Cheesecake, a cherry-infused cream ale with a touch of vanilla, on Sept. 19.
Boulevard Brewing has released Cabernet Cask Imperial Stout (13.2-percent ABV, 20 IBUs). They used barrels from Groth Winery that originally held Cabernet Sauvignon and were next used by Jefferson’s Bourbon to age Jefferson’s Reserve Groth Reserve Cask Finish Very Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Boulevard filled the barrels with Smokestack Series Imperial Stout. According to ambassador brewer Jeremy Danner, the barrels contributed flavors of charred oak and vanilla, with notes of blackberry and cinnamon. Dark fruit notes trace back to the Cabernet Sauvignon and a Scottish yeast strain. Available in 750 milliliter bottles in area retail stores.
Calibration Brewing (119 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri) has released a roggenbier, a German-style session rye beer, with ample peppery rye notes and finish. Oktoberfest Amber is coming soon, as well as a seasonal fall food menu.
Rock & Run Brewery and Pub (110 E. Kansas St., Liberty, Missouri) has released its Rocktoberfest, a Märzen-style beer, and B Weisser, a Berliner Weiss fermented with local organic pears from Prairie Birthday Farms. Bleach Blonde Pale Ale is now available in six-pack cans at the brewpub and throughout Kansas City, including Hy Vee, Brookside Liquors, and Red X.
Red Crow Brewing’s (20561 S. Lone Elm Road, Spring Hill, Kansas) Elaine Rye Porter is back on tap on a limited basis.
— 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.