Ink Food & Drink

A Belgian pale ale seduced Kellen Duryea

Kellen Duryea is the general manager of Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, a beer bar in Kansas City’s Power & Light District.
Kellen Duryea is the general manager of Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, a beer bar in Kansas City’s Power & Light District. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Kellen Duryea knows beer.

Duryea, general manager at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, 101 E. 13th St., prides himself on helping customers find their perfect brew. His passion for craft brewing, his French and German heritage and his history degree from the University of Kansas are major assets on the job.

The 32-year-old “history nerd” — his words — knows a lot about brewing practices and the history of the beer industry.

“It gives me a lot to talk about with customers,” he says. “I have a good sense of the origin of all my products.”

Q: What was the first beer you ever had?

A: First beer or first good beer? The beer that turned me on to craft beer was Delirium Tremens (from Belgium’s Brouwerij Huyghe). We bought a bottle because we liked the bottle. It was a very cool-looking bottle.

I can tell you the moment: I was a junior in college sitting on the patio of our house. We all had jobs and were 22, 23 years old. We had a bit more disposable income, so we were trying some new beers.

It had a huge, sweet, floral aroma and then the full flavor to back it up. It wasn’t an overly heavy beer. It had a lot of flavors of spring fruits and wild grasses and flowers. I thought, this is different, this is good, we have to try more like this.

Q: What’s your favorite type of beer now?

A: That depends. There are really three answers to that. Depending on the weather, I want something crisper and cleaner in the summer and hearty in the winter. (I like) IPAs, stouts and sours or wild ales. It would be a better question to ask what’s my favorite this week.

Q: Do you brew beer at home?

A: I have done some homebrewing before. I had some beginner’s luck. We did a little bit in college. Truthfully we didn’t know what we were doing. I don’t necessarily have the time anymore, but if I were going to do it I’d love to do it right.

Q: How many beers does Flying Saucer have?

A: Seventy-six drafts and a bottle selection ranging from 220 to 250, depending on the day. We get deliveries sometimes five days a week. We print menus sometimes four times a week. We are constantly rotating products. It’s one of the blessings and curses. More beer passes through these walls than anywhere else.

Q: Can you name them all?

A: Off the top of my head, I could name more than half. I’m sure there would be beers I would forget, but I could definitely name more than half.

Q: Who is the typical Flying Saucer customer?

A: We have everything from the biggest beer aficionados hunting the rarest and most exclusive collections … to someone who’s never heard of the Flying Saucer but is here for an event and doesn’t drink anything but your Bud Light and Coors Light. Our goal is, even if you’re not a beer fan, to find something for you.

Q: Is drinking beer business or pleasure for you?

A: I am tasting beer to decide if I want to carry it when new products come into the market. But there comes a time in the evening when I grab a pint and sit back and enjoy a good beer.

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