Four craft beer fans open new brew business in Overland Park

08/06/2013 10:23 AM

08/06/2013 10:23 AM

This spring, four friends met over a few beers to discuss a prospective business idea, one that they already had experience in — craft brewing.

Clay Johnston, Kevin Combs, Justin Waters and Matthew Hornung were all home-brewers and wanted to make it easier for other home-brewers to get into the hobby. They also wanted to help experienced home-brewers take their hobby to the next level.

“We all had various levels of expertise but it was something we had a passion for and were familiar with,” Johnston said.

Their new Brew Lab, at 8004 Foster St. in downtown Overland Park, is a “brew-on-the-premises” operation offering higher quality brewing equipment than would typically be found in a home brewing operation. Brewing experts also are on hand to guide those new to the hobby.

Customers set up an appointment, telling Brew Lab what kind of beer they want to make. The staff then researches recipes to find one that will fit the customer’s taste. It has 43 bins stocked with a variety of grains and malts, and a refrigerator holding a variety of hops and yeast, along with spices such as juniper berry and orange peel, to choose from.

Johnston said the brewing process goes like this: The mixture of grains and water is heated to extract sugars (mashing), and then boiled to sanitize the unfermented product called wort, and hops are added for bitterness and aroma. It is then cooled quickly and placed in a large bottle called a carboy. Yeast is added at this step, and the carboy is then ready to be stored from 10 days to a couple of weeks to ferment.

Brew Lab can set up the carboys in its basement and then bottle the beer later, or customers can take the wort home to ferment and bottle the beer themselves.

“The basement is starting to resemble a brewery. Lot of carboys down there fermenting,” Johnston said. “Not a day goes by that people don’t come in to shoot the breeze about their beer making experience. People just love talking shop. And people have been gathering around beers since beer’s creation.”

A Brew Lab session can start at $75, plus the cost of ingredients, and make 5 to 15 gallons. The shop also sells ingredients for home brewing.

Quick bite

Nuts and Bolts, a True Value hardware store, has opened at 2337 S. Missouri 291, Independence. It is the seventh area location for the company and its second in Independence. A grand opening is planned for a later date and will include demos and giveaways.

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