While I was in college, a friend of mine and I took a home brewing class. I’d like to say because I'm an engineer, I was interested in the scientific process behind
fermentation and beer making, but really ... I just love beer! Okay, the stuff about being interested in the science part is
true, but I discovered the more beer I made, the more interested I became in brewing. I never expected the hobby I learned in
college would end up being something I’d turn into a career, but I'm glad it did.
What was the first kind of beer you ever brewed? How did it
taste on a scale of 1-10?
The first batch of beer I made was with a friend in
2006. It was an American wheat extract kit, and I used malt extract rather than
malting my own grain. Tip: that's the easiest way to get started home brewing! My first batch certainly taught me the virtue
of patience in the brewing process. We
fermented for 2 weeks, then bottled and tasted after another week. It was awful – it tasted very sour and almost
undrinkable; we thought we’d failed (it was a “1”). We let the bottles sit for a few more weeks
and tried again, and it turned out to be a pretty good beer! I’ve since learned that acetaldehyde causes
this off-flavor in "green beer", and it is removed during the conditioning process. I’d give
the final product a 6.
A "6" is pretty good for your first batch! At this point, which beers do you have pilot batches of and what
is in the works?
I’m trying as many new recipes as I can. The Patio Ale is an extra pale ale that is
one of my favorites right now. It is fairly
light (SRM: 6.5) in color and body, but has a good full flavor and strong hop
character. I currently have an Amber Ale,
Saison, Rye Ale, IPA, and Barleywine all at different stages of the process
right now. My next batch will be what we’re
calling the Campfire Porter, which is a Robust Porter that is aged on oak chips
– this was a fan favorite at our tasting event last June, and I look forward to
handing out more samples in the near future!
We can't wait for another tasting! Tell me a little bit about Border Brew Company. How did you come
to decide on the name? How many people are a part of the operation at this
My goal for Border Brewing Company is to get people as involved with
our brewing process as possible. I knew we were going to be located in the Downtown/Crossroads area and wanted a name that represented Kansas City, while
still portraying the vision of “bridging the gap between beer drinkers and beer
lovers”. I must have gone through hundreds
of names and asked several friends and family members for ideas. Finally a
friend of mine brought up the “Border” idea and I thought it fit perfectly.
This has definitely been a team effort so far. My girlfriend has helped a lot with the
business planning, and I have a good friend that has offered to help with
social media and marketing. I can’t even
begin to list all of the friends and family that are helping with the
marketing, branding, business planning, location searching, legal advice,
etc. Starting a business can be an
overwhelming task, and I could not be doing it without the help and support of these
friends and family.
That's a great concept, and how great that you have so many people rallying around you. So what was behind choosing Kansas City for your headquarters?
Kansas City is a great
city for beer, but it has been under served when it comes to craft beer. As a matter of fact, it was recently rated by Travel & Leisure as one of America's Top 5 Beer Cities. Boulevard has paved the
way by exposing Kansas Citians to new styles of great beer, but there is room
for even more variety. There are hundreds
of styles of beer, and craft beer drinkers are always open to trying out
something new. I’ve lived in Kansas City
since I was 7 years old, and have always been impressed with the undying loyalty that people
have for this city. As I start this
venture in a growing craft beer industry, I look forward to being involved in
this great community.
Since we're on the subject of Kansas City, I have to ask ... in
your opinion, what's the best beer to pair with famous Kansas City BBQ ribs?
Beer and food pairing can be a tricky animal, because views do vary on which beer styles pair best with which foods. In the end, it all comes down to your personal opinion. My favorite beer to pair with Kansas City BBQ ribs would have to be the Patio Ale. I think the hopiness and crispness of this beer compliments the sweet barbecue taste that Kansas City is known for.
That sounds like a great combination! And speaking of opinions, how important is your customer's feedback to you? How will you
use it going forward?
Customer feedback isn't just important, it will drive many of the beer decisions that we make. We've already had some feedback from tastings of our pilot batches, and will be looking to get more before we open. Once the brewpub is open, we will be asking which styles our customers want to see next – and actually brewing them. We love beer, but we know that our customers do too, and we feel they should be able to decide for themselves what they want to try. We will start with some staple brews – like the Patio Ale and Campfire Porter – but will always have at least one beer on tap that is chosen by customer feedback.
What do you predict your first beer will be when you open shop
We’ll have at least four beers on tap on opening day. The Patio Ale and Campfire Porter will likely be two of them. The other two have yet to be decided, although at least one of them will likely be voted on prior to our opening. We want to know what our customers want to drink!
Where do you see Border Brew Company in 5 years?
My hope is that the brewpub is booming, and everyone is enjoying our beer! Next year, we plan on selling our beer in the brewpub and a few area bars on tap. In 5 years, we hope that our business has grown enough that we can start considering an expansion and bringing our beer to liquor stores to make it even more available.