Chow Town

Five things to know about the Crossroads’ ‘wild’ new craft brewery

Three years ago, Border Brewing Co. opened in the East Crossroads, which is quickly becoming Kansas City’s craft beer central.

Torn Label Brewing Co., Double Shift Brewing Co. and Brewery Emperial are nearby. So is International Tap House — aka iTap — a beer bar with hundreds of brews to choose from.

Now there’s a new brewery in the neighborhood. Casual Animal Brewing Co. opened last week at 1725 McGee St. Here are five things to know before you go.

1. It’s a family business. Casual Animal was founded by Kyle and Lara Gray, who moved to Kansas City from Fort Collins, Colo., in 2014. The homebrewers missed the craft beer community in Fort Collins, home to New Belgium Brewing Co., so they decided to open a brewery in their new hometown.

“We were missing a bit of that culture,” Kyle Gray says, “so we decided to dive in head-first.”

2. Casual Animal’s motto is “laid back beers that tap into your wild side.” In other words: These brews are easy to drink, but they won’t bore you. The current beer list features a light honey wheat, a dark stout, an ESB (extra special bitter) and a dry-hopped helles, which is a German pale lager.

Pints cost $6 each, half-pint “swiftys” cost $4, and tasting glasses cost $2. A flight of five beers costs $9, and 32-ounce to-go cans called crowlers cost $11. Casual Animal will also fill growlers purchased at other breweries; prices vary by size.

3. The brewery and taproom is located in a former tobacco warehouse with brick walls and concrete floors. The Grays installed a 7-barrel brewhouse, a bar, reclaimed wood tables, a shuffleboard table and hung string lights from the ceiling. There’s a patio out front and a glass garage door that opens up on warm days.

Casual Animal is open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed on Mondays.

4. Customers can bring their own food. Casual Animal doesn’t have a kitchen, but there are plenty of takeout options nearby. The Brick is next door at 1727 McGee, Tapcade is a few doors down at 1701 McGee, and Grinders Pizza is right around the corner at 417 E. 18th St.

The taproom does serve snacks. There’s local cheese from Green Dirt Farm, crackers from Farm to Market Bread Co., chips and free peanuts.

5. The brewery is located in Missouri, but the logo is a nod to Kansas. Kyle Gray is a native of the Sunflower State, where the official animal is the American bison. Gray, a graphic designer, created all of the brewery’s art, from the logo to the tap handles.

Fans of the new microbrewery can show off their beer love with Casual Animal T-shirts and trucker hats designed by Gray.