Craft brewers in Kansas City have tapped into a growing audience thirsty for fresh, local beer.
Story by Dave Eckert
I have to admit I’m more of a wine lover than a beer aficionado. However, had the current craft beer explosion been happening 30 years ago when I first started exploring all things vinous, that could have changed and there might have been a frothier path in my future. What’s happening with beer in the United States these days is exciting, and that is no less true in Kansas City. There are, depending on your standards for inclusion, anywhere from 18 to upwards of 30 microbreweries in the metro. Not ten years ago, that number was in the low single digits.
“The craft beer scene in Kansas City has changed dramatically over the past few years. I think the number of breweries has tripled just from 2012 to now,” John Couture, owner of Bier Station, shared. Couture and I chatted about the local craft beer scene at Bier Station recently, surrounded by perhaps the best selection of craft beers in the metro on draft and in bottles and cans. Couture knows the subject well. His “brewpourium” (my word, don’t look it up), just celebrated its four year anniversary. The Waldo establishment has been voted a top 100 beer bar three years in a row, and its selection is beyond impressive. I asked him what he thought was fueling this brewing renaissance. Size, he said, was a major factor.
“More and more people are acknowledging that you don’t have to be big to succeed. With this craft beer resurgence, people are realizing that smaller breweries can thrive. They can thrive in neighborhoods. They don’t need a huge investment in equipment. And, they can all thrive by working together collaboratively, which I think is unique. It’s a very different way to operate,” Couture said.
Right down the road from Bier Station, you will find one of those smaller breweries – KC Bier Company. There’s no relation between the two businesses, other than love and respect for the world’s oldest malted beverage and the decision to use its German spelling in their names. “I would say it’s exceeded my expectations. We’ve always moved in the right direction, but sometimes we’ve had to take a step back here and there to take a couple steps forward,” KC Bier Company founder Steve Holle shared. “I’m very pleased with the acceptance we’ve gotten. And, another thing that I’m pleased about is the fact that we sell 100-percent of our beer within 50 miles of the brewery.”
KC Bier Company is the perfect example of the type of brewery Couture talked about – small, local, and thriving. It just celebrated its third anniversary in February. I try hard not to play favorites, but KC Bier Company, with its emphasis on malt and balance over hops and extract, brews a bevy of beers that match my palate. A goodly amount of other Kansas Citians must agree. It’s hard to find a bar or restaurant that doesn’t have at least one KC Bier Co product on tap, usually the Dunkel. What’s more, KC Bier Company is finding a new audience through its bottled beers, and its tasting room remains one of the most popular in Kansas City. Holle and KC Bier Co have clearly found their niche. “Our goal is to make authentic German-style beer and serve it at the same freshness level that you would get it if you were in Germany. What is most gratifying to me is when someone from Germany, or someone who lived in Germany, comes in, tastes the beer, and says, ‘This is the most authentic style Helles or Hefeweizen that I’ve had since I was in Germany’,” Holle commented.
Whether you like the beers of KC Bier Co, live in the city or in the suburbs, there is likely a craft brewer within a short drive with a beer style that will both surprise and delight. I’d encourage everyone who enjoys a good beer to get out and support these local businesses. These are great times for KC beer lovers. Let’s revel in them!
Cheers, or as Holle would say, Prost!
Area Micro Brews
- 23rd Street Brewery: 3512 Clinton Parkway, Lawrence, KS
- Amerisports Brew Pub: 3200 North Ameristar Drive, KCMO
- The Big Rip Brewing Company: 216 East 9th Avenue, North Kansas City
- Border Brewing Company: 406 East 18th Street, KCMO
- Boulevard Brewing Company: 2501 Southwest Boulevard, KCMO
- Brewery Emperial: 1829 Oak Street, KCMO
- Calibration Brewery: 19 N Armour, North Kansas City
- Cinder Block Brewery: 110 East 18th Avenue, North Kansas City
- Crane Brewing: 6515 Railroad Street, Raytown, MO
- Double Shift Brewing Company: 412 East 18th Street, KCMO
- Flying Monkey Beer: 1744 Iron St., North Kansas City, KS
- Free State Brewing Company: 636 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, KS
- Gordon Biersch: 100 East 14th Street, KCMO and11652 Ash Street, Leawood, KS
- Granite City Food & Brewery: 8461 NW Prairie View Road, KCMO and 1701 Village West Parkway, Kansas City, KS
- Green Room Burgers & Beer: 4010 Pennsylvania Avenue, KCMO
- Grinders High Noon: 208 Choctaw Street, Leavenworth, KS
- KC Bier Company: 310 West 79th Street, KCMO
- Martin City Brewing Company: 500 East 135th Street, KCMO
- McCoy’s Public House: 4057 Pennsylvania Avenue, KCMO
- Ninja Moose Brewery: 105 West Bird Street, Hamilton, MO
- Red Crow Brewing Co: 20561 South Lone Elm Road, Spring Hill, KS
- Rock and Run Brewery: 110 East Kansas Street, Liberty, MO
- Stockyards Brewing Co: 1600 Genessee Street, KCMO
- Torn Label Brewing Company: 1708 Campbell Street, Kansas City, MO
- Weston Brewing Company: 500 Welt Street, Weston, MO
- Yankee Tank Brewing – Henry T’s Bar: 3520 West 6th Street, Lawrence, KS