Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The 6 New Breweries to Look Out for This Year!

Despite the predictions that 2017 will be the worst year EVER, and that we're closing in on the End Times, there are still certainly things to be happy about. Not the least of these things is Beer! It already looks like it's going to be another big year for beer for KC. As of today, we have 6 new breweries planned for 2017 openings!

If all these breweries in planning come to fruition, we'll have fully 28 breweries and brewpubs in the KC Metro area. This doesn't even quite get us above the national average per capita breweries, but is a hell of a lot better than where we were just a couple years ago. (We've still got a very long way to go compared to Denver with 131 breweries in the metro.)

But the absolute number of breweries in KC is not what I'm most excited about with these new openings. What I'm most excited about is the fact that these breweries are not all opening just in the Crossroads and North KC--we're actually getting breweries in the 'burbs! I've been talking for a long time about the NE Johnson County and Lee's Summit areas as being areas with a huge craft beer demand that have been historically under-served.

That is no more because we're now going to have 2 breweries in Lee's Summit and 1 in Overland Park! Brookside will get it's first brewery ever in 2017 as well. And hopefully more will follow in their footsteps (assuming the angry silver-hairs that control the planning commissions and zoning laws loosen up a bit when they realize these craft breweries don't lead to the demise of their neighborhoods).

As always, congratulations to all the new brewers! It's an enormous accomplishment just to get to opening day given all the legal, logistical, and financial challenges to opening a brewery. Here's the breweries to go drink at today and look out for this year!


1. Brewery Emperial - Grand Opening Tomorrow


Grand Opening: Tomorrow, Feb. 2, 2017
Location: Crossroads (1829 Oak St, Kansas City, MO 64108)
Restaurant Hours:
     Sun-Mon: Closed
     Tues-Thurs: 11am-11pm
     Fri-Sat: 11am-12am
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This much anticipated brewery that has been in planning for several years now opened quietly in late December of last year because of an earlier than expected regulatory approvals. Now they're planning their grand opening party tomorrow, Feb. 2nd. This new establishment is a brewpub with a full menu along with their beers (a relative oddity amongst the mostly tap-room focused brewery openings of late).

This is no virgin venture--Keith Thompson, the long time head brewer at McCoy's, is part-owner and brewer along side former Boulevard brewer Sterling Holman. In addition to this, the brewhouse system came from the Hitachino Nest brewery who still make one of the best Witbiers in the world. (The owl logo is a nod to the brew system's provenance.) On the food side, part-owner and chef Ted Habiger spent his early career at the former Cafe Allegro, at one time rated the #1 restaurant in the city. With all this experience and expertise, Brewery Emperial promises to be a great addition to the Crossroads neighborhood.


2. Fringe Beerworks - In House Brews Starting February



Opened: December, 2016
In-House Brews: Early February, 2017
Location: Lee's Summit (224 SE Douglas St, Lee's Summit)
Tap Room Hours:
     Sun-Thurs: 12pm-10pm
     Fri-Sat: 12pm-12am
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Downtown Lee's Summit is becoming a regular beer destination in the KC Metro, with beer bars, a homebrew store / tap room, and now two planned breweries.

Fringe Beerworks opened recently in the old Grains & Taps location (which moved down the street) as the first brewery ever to open in the history of Lee's Summit as a city. They've been serving other's beers including Ninja Moose Brewery beers (the first location in the metro serving their beer) for a couple months now and should have their first batch of in-house brew out any day now. They cleared the last regulatory hurdle in mid-January and are working to get their first beer on tap soon.

Right now this tap-room has 24 taps of local and regional brews. Their ultimate goal is to have 12 in-house taps and 12 guest taps on at all times. They've got a realtime list of what's on tap on their website. Also apparently if you blow a keg, you get to have your picture taken with it. Their twitter feed is oddly amusing with all the pictures of people standing proudly by the kegs they killed.


3. Smoke Brewing Company - Opening February



Opening: February, 2017
Location: Lee's Summit (209 SE Main St, Lees Summit, Missouri)
Restaurant Hours: TBD
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Following right behind Fringe Beerworks, Smoke Brewing Company is planning an opening this month just down the street from Fringe in downtown Lee's Summit. In contrast to Fringe, Smoke Brewing Co will be a full service restaurant / brewpub focused on upscale barbeque. This will be a first for the metro, as we've never had a brewpub that focused on barbeque (and I doubt there are many brewpubs across the country with this mix).

Owners Josh and Lanni Edwards and Josh's father Jeff Edwards all have a background in competition homebrewing for 10 years and competition barbequing for 5 years. In addition to the homebrew experience, the Edwards have hired on Bert Lightle as their brewmaster. Bert recently graduated from the highly respected brewing science program at the Siebel Institute and is currently the president of ZZ Hops. So I'm guessing that all this is going to add up to excellent beer and bbq for Lee's Summit. 


4. BKS Artisan Ales - Opening Feb/March



Opening: February, 2017
Location: Brookside East (633 E 63rd St #120 Kansas City, MO)
Tap Room Hours: TBD (Currently planned for just 1 Saturday per Month)
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We first talked with co-owners Brian and Mary Rooney back in 2015 in regards to their work with the City of Kansas City, MO to change the zoning laws. The Rooneys were instrumental in their work with City Council members (Scott Taylor in particular) to get the zoning ordinance amended so that breweries could be operated in areas with a "commecial" zoning. Previously, breweries could only be operated in "manufacturing" zoning areas (hence all of the Crossroads breweries). But the Rooneys prevailed and are now getting very close to opening up their brewery in Brookside!

BKS Artisan Ales is planned as a production brewery with a tap room at the corner of 63rd & Holmes. They plan on focusing on experimental sour, barrel aged, and farmhouse beers. They've already got some exciting stuff going with their own proprietary bugs too--BKS worked with Bootleg Biology to isolate their own lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and sacchromyces (regular beer yeast) strains that they collected on Mary's family farm in Rosie, AR. These yeast will be used in their Biere de Rosie among other brews. Right now they're planning on only opening the tap room one Saturday per month, but will sell bottled beer and crowler fills to go as well.


5. Colony Espresso & Beer Brewery - In House Brews this Spring



Begin Brewing: Spring, 2017
Location: North Kansas City (312 Armour Rd, North Kansas City, MO)
Tap Room Hours: 
     Mon-Thurs: 7am-10pm
     Fri-Sat: 7am-12am
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In North KC's march towards craft brew dominance of the KC Metro, yet another brewery is planned for the tiny city north of the river. In addition to the current 3 breweries, distillery, homebrew shop, and multiple beer bars, the excellent Colony Espresso & Beer Bar on Armour Road is planning to expand into production of their own in-house brews by this summer.

Rodney Beagle has been a staple of North KC since he started bartending, then brewing at Big Rip several years ago. You probably also know him from Nanobrew Fest under the Beagle Brewing banner. But that is all no more as he will now be representing Colony Handcrafted Ales. Colony plans to purchase Rock & Run's old 1 BBL brewing system once they upgrade to their larger 3 BBL system this Spring. Colony will focus on filling at least 3 taps with in-house brews year round with an ever-changing selection. They will be focusing on one-off batches of experimental brews.


6. Brewlab Brewery - In House Brews Late 2017



Opening: February, 2017
Location: Brookside East (7925 Marty St, Overland Park, KS)
Tap Room Hours: TBD
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Anyone reading this blog (especially this far down the page!) already knows about Brewlab--our first and only brew-on-premise shop. Well they've come out with some extremely exciting news. Brewlab is in the process of moving to their new location a couple blocks to the east of their original shop. This location is just across the street from the Farmers Market building. They will be expanding past the the brew-on-premise service to also have a restaurant, tap-room, and brewery! Their plan is to expand in phases, with the brewery coming some time in late 2017.

I see four awesome with this move: 1) a brewery in Johnson County--an amazing achievement in its own right, 2) a brewery a mile from my house, 3) a lot more room for the perpetually claustrophobic High Plains Brewhoff, and 4) going to the Farmers Market is going to be a lot more fun this year.

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