Local breweries make KC a craft beer hot spot
Kansas City has become home to a booming number of craft breweries over the last couple of years and we couldn’t be more excited to get out and about this spring to try them all…with a designated driver, of course. So, gather some friends and head out on a sunny (or rainy, frankly does it matter?) day to explore everything Kansas City has to offer when it come to delicious brewskies—cheers!
The Big Rip Brewing Company
The Big Rip Brewing Company is just north of the river over the Heart of America Bridge in a warehouse and commercial area of North Kansas City. Owners Josh Collins and Kipp Feldt have a simple philosophy: to be part of the local community. They work with non-profits in the area to help spread the love and want to turn people on to craft beer by creating an environment that is comfortable to people even if they are simply along for the ride and don’t like beer.
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Big Rip’s emphasis? Variety! They’ve made more than 30 types of beer and generally like to keep a diverse selection of beers on tap so there’s a little something for everyone (they also serve wine and liquor for non-beer fans). They’re big fans of malts, but usually have a couple of hoppy beers on tap for IPA fans with their flagship beer being Hathor’s Sweet Brown Ale.
They brew on a 4bbl system, which means everything is a small batch so the taps change over very quickly, making every visit unique. Since they are self-proclaimed horror and sci-fi movie geeks, all the beer names and theme of the brewery reflect this. Their parking is also host to many outdoor events with live music and good times.
Cinder Block Brewery
Cinder Block Brewery is a 15-barrel brew house located in North Kansas City. You’ll find them one block South of the main drag, Armour Blvd. They are dedicated to creating flavorful, bold and unique artisan beers from the purest ingredients. As a local craft brewery and taproom, Cinder Block is committed to their community by sourcing regional ingredients and tradesmen for their operations. In addition to the beers they brew, they have two gluten-free ciders available year-round.
Cinder Block officially started distribution last week with North Kansas City Beverage. For the first several months, Owner Bryce Schaffter and Director of Brewing Operations, Bryan Buckingham will initially focus distribution efforts on three beers: the Northtown Native, Rivet Rye and Block IPA. The beers will be available at bars and restaurants only, with retail distribution projected for mid-summer 2015. Additionally, their Foundation Series, a line of limited release specialty beers, is slated before the end of the year.
Double Shift Brewing Company
Opening soon in the East Crossroads, Double Shift Brewing Company is in the middle of a great up-and-coming art district originally developed to house manufacturing and auto shops.
Owner/brewer Aaron Ogilvie says it’s hard to put their brewing style in a box, but the team, including Scott Ogilvie, Paul Stark, Mike Pollock, Rick Redhair and Joan Redhair, will definitely be making more ales than lagers. They’ll take traditional styles and put a unique Kansas City twist on them. Their goal is to brew beer easily approached by the masses, but still enjoyed by the connoisseurs.
What’s unique about Double Shift Brewing Company? Their taproom seats 80+ people, carries an ever-changing beer list, and holds a superb location central to various great restaurants and concert venues like The Kauffman Center and CrossroadsKC at Grinders.
KC Bier Co; photo courtesy of ithinkbigger.com
KC Bier Co
KC Bier Co is located in Waldo, but they distribute bier to more than 275 bars and restaurants throughout the entire KC metro area and Lawrence. Founder/owner Steve Holle’s emphasis is on making German-style lagers and ales with imported malts and hops directly from Germany.
Their brewing process is one of the things that makes them unique. They brew to the Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law. The law states you can only use four ingredients in bier: water, malt, hops and yeast, which in their opinion, makes very good bier with just those four simple parts. Brewing bier like that means it’s 100% up to the skill of their brewers to make it perfect.
Focusing on lagers is also somewhat unique because most craft brewers avoid them due to their delicacy. The tiniest mistake is obvious and can’t be hidden with hops or barrel aging. Another reason? Their expense. Compared to ales that can be made in two weeks, lagers take six. During that time, much money has to be spent on refrigeration and space—and less bier is being sold.
Owners Rafi Chaudry (left) and Travis Moore; photo by Andrew Grumke, KCBJ
Torn Label Brewing Company
You’ll find Torn Label Brewing Company downtown in KC’s Crossroads District. Owners Rafi Chaudry, Travis Moore, Carol Troutwine and Chad Troutwine have an intriguing philosophy: create unexpectedly compelling collisions of flavor, often with the thoughtful, creative use of offbeat ingredients. When it comes to beer, they aim for an intersection of adventurous and approachable, taking pleasure in creating beers that entice craft beer drinkers—both novice and expert—toward new and exciting flavor experiences.
As for its location, Torn Label is housed in the corner of the Studios Inc. building, a non-profit that provides workspace to local artists. The brewery opens directly to their exhibition area, which complements Torn Label’s summation perfectly: experimentation and accessibility in balance.
Border Brewing Company also recently opened their brewery and taproom near Grinders in the Crossroads under owner Eric Martens.
And if these options aren’t enough, there are even more in the works.
Keith Thompson (brewmaster at McCoy’s Public House since 1997), Ted Habiger (Room 39 restaurateur) and Rich Kasyjanski plan to join the East Crossroads boom with the opening of Brewery Emperial in August.
Stockyards Brewing Co. is slated to open under Greg Bland’s ownership this October in the former Golden Ox space in the West Bottoms.