Kansas City’s newest brewery Strange Days Brewing Company (316 Oak St.) has fired up its brewhouse with a sense of purpose. Co-owners Nathan Howard, Chris Beier and Alec Vemmer have scheduled the brewery’s grand opening for Jan. 20.
The forthcoming debut of Strange Days heralds the latest revival of brewing in the River Market. Immigrant Peter Schwitzgebel opened Kansas City’s first recorded brewery in the late 1850s near Third and Oak Streets, only a stone’s throw away from Strange Days. Beginning in 1938, post-Prohibition, Muehlebach Brewing constructed and operated several buildings that gradually encompassed the city block at Fourth and Oak Streets until the brewery ceased operations (under Schlitz Brewing Company ownership) in 1973. Two decades later, River Market Brewing Company (500 Walnut St.) operated in its namesake neighborhood from 1994 to 2009, during the city’s first modern wave of microbrewing. Strange Days is now housed in a former Muehlebach building, one of the few left standing.
Since the end of December, Howard and Vemmer have logged nearly a dozen batches on their Psycho Brewing system. The energy-efficient system, built in Michigan from U.S. stainless steel, uses natural gas and a tankless water heater.
On a recent visit, Howard poured a few samples of beers that will be available at the opening. Australian Sparkling Ale, made with three malts and a bittering hop, is an easy-drinking session sipper with a soft mouthfeel and light gold color. Day Dream Saison was brewed with orange peel, honey and peppercorn. Dry-hopped with German Mandarina Bavaria hops, the saison evokes more tropical fruit character than the traditional floral spice profile of a Belgian saison. Japanese Black IPA uses Sorachi Ace hops, originally developed in Japan in 1984 for Sapporo Breweries, as well as ginger and Szechuan peppercorn.
Black & Wit Witbier swaggers with the dark color and roasted malt heft of a stout, but saunters with the light mouthfeel of an effervescent ale. The low-alcohol witbier is brewed with midnight wheat for color, plus coriander and orange peel to balance the flavor.
With a new year underway, the River Market will once again be awash in locally-brewed beer made near the city’s birthplace along the banks of the Missouri River.
The Brewkery Plans to Open Kombucha Taproom in January
Amy Goldman and Sean Galloway plan to open The Brewkery (1443 Swift Ave., North Kansas City, Missouri), a 600 square-foot kombucha taproom, in late January, pending final local authority approval. The Brewkery will be Kansas City’s first dedicated kombucha taproom, serving its line of flavored, non-alcoholic fermented tea on tap and in bottles.
Goldman and Galloway initially developed a plan to open The Brewkery as a brewery and bakery, but later switched gears to focus on kombucha. Founded in early 2015, The Brewkery makes its kombucha from a base of black tea sourced from Hugo Tea Company (1007 Swift Ave., North Kansas City). Goldman and Galloway sweeten, ferment and carbonate the tea to produce kombucha.
In April 2016, they launched a line of bottled kombucha distributed under the brand name Lucky Elixir. The core flavors are hop’d peach (flavored with Citra hops), ginger lime, berry blend (made with marionberry and aronia berry), and the newest flavor, mango. Distributors now ship the beverage to 65 grocery stores, health food shops, coffee shops and retail boutiques throughout Greater Kansas City.
Formerly, The Brewkery leased space out of a Midtown food manufacturing kitchen to produce its startup beverage line. In addition to the taproom, their new 3,400 square-foot Northtown space includes a production facility for brewing, a fermentation room, cold storage room, office and retail lounge. The expanded operation enables them to not only sell kombucha direct to the public, but also brew and bottle kombucha under the same roof. They’ve been brewing in this location since June.
“We currently have the capacity to produce 34 barrels of kombucha a month, but can scale a lot in this space,” Galloway said.
The taproom features a robin egg blue and warm gray color palette. Local graffiti artist Brew Lamb stenciled a mural of a bridge that spans the Missouri River on one wall of the taproom. The front of the bar is covered in walnut boards recovered from an old barn. Tyler Kingston, an industrial modern furniture maker and home retail shop (422 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri) built much of the rugged furniture out of reclaimed wood.
At the taproom, The Brewkery’s core four flavors and limited-edition, seasonal and experimental flavors of kombucha will be served from 12 taps. Kombucha will also be available in flights, growler fills and four-pack bottles to go.
Boulevard’s newest release is Flora Obscura Dry-Hopped Porter. (Courtesy of Boulevard Brewing Co.)
Miami Creek Brewing Company (14226 NW County Road 14001, Drexel, Missouri) has acquired its winery permit, enabling owner-brewer Will Reece to begin producing cider, fruit wines and mead this year. He plans to test batches of dry cider and a light mead this spring. Meanwhile, Miami Creek releases its 2018 version of Hot Pepper Ale and Farmhouse Wheat Ale in January, once a tap frees up in the taproom.
“This year we brewed the [Hot Pepper Ale] with smoked jalapeños, ancho chilis, Anaheim peppers and applewood smoked malt,” Reece said.
Boulevard Brewing kicks off 2018 with a new beer and the return of a popular barrel-aged beer. Rye on Rye (12-percent ABV) is back and now available in four-packs of 12-ounce bottles along with 750-milliliter bottles and on draft. The rye beer, aged in Templeton Rye barrels, was most recently released in 2015. This year’s version carries aromas of spicy, fruity rye malt, rye whiskey, vanilla, toffee and charred oak. The beer’s medium body presents caramel/toffee malt flavor balanced by earthy, herbal and citrusy hop notes.
Boulevard’s new seasonal beer, Flora Obscura Dry-Hopped Porter, debuts in the Greater Kansas City Area starting Jan. 8. Flora Obscura Dry-Hopped Porter marries bright, citrusy, tropical fruit aroma and flavors from Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic and Galaxy hops with contrasting malty notes of chocolate, espresso and caramel. The porter’s nose begin with subtle roast and chocolate malt brightened by aromas of berries, grapefruit and earthy pine.
Colony KC (312 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri) has released Shuttlehop East vs West, a double dry-hopped hybrid IPA (7.2-percent ABV, 42 IBUs), and Witstorm, a wit-style ale (5-percent ABV, 21 IBUs) brewed with chamomile, grains of paradise and grapefruit zest.
The rotating tap list at Brew Lab (7925 Marty, Overland Park, Kansas) includes BBS Black Saison (5.9-percent ABV, 33 IBUs), Biere de Garde, a malty, dark Belgian pale ale (8-percent ABV, 20 IBUs), Vossaøl Norwegian Ale (6.5-percent ABV, 30 IBUs), and Pharrell Tripel, a Belgian tripel (8.1-percent ABV, 33 IBUs).
— 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.