For quite a while now, the craft beer drinking community of Kansas City has been clamoring for more local breweries to hit the scene. While Boulevard Brewing Company, McCoy’s Public House, 75th Street Brewery, Free State Brewery in Lawrence and a few others are widely beloved, many have thought that it would be nice to have yet another beer option available in the metro area. Luckily, since May of this year, that wish has been granted in the form of The Big Rip Brewing Company, located at 216 E 9th Avenue in North Kansas City, Missouri.
The name “The Big Rip” was take from a scientific concept about the universe expanding and its ultimate fate. When it comes to their beer names, owners Josh Collins and Kipp Feldt have a great time naming their beers after their favorite horror and science-fiction movies. Their Great Conjuction brew takes its name from the 1982 movie The Dark Crystal, and the Outlander Rye Ale’s name is a reference to Children of the Corn. They have named their tanks in the brewery following the same theme; the names Mulder (The X-Files), Ash (Evil Dead), Ripley (the Alien movies), and Voorhees (Friday the 13th appear on the equipment. They even have horror or sci-fi movies playing on their televisions when people drop in for a beer.
There are usually between five to eight beers on tap at any give time, including their flagship beer, Hathor’s Sweet Brown Ale. Their Outlander Rye Ale is Feldt’s favorite to brew, although it’s the most difficult. According to Collins, when they are brewing this beer, adding the rye to the beer really makes the process more challenging. “It gums up the mash,” he states. “It challenges the mill too, because it is so hard. It makes for a really long brew day.” With a smile Feldt adds, “It is a bitch to brew, but a lot of fun and an awesome beer.”
An additional interesting offering from The Big Rip is Eight Gluten-Free Raspberry, which tips in at a surprising 7.9% ABV. While this one is Collins’ favorite to make on brew day, he adds that it is “super tough when it comes to juicing the raspberries.” That isn’t the only fruit beer The Big Rip offers, as one of their favorite seasonal beers is the Great Conjunction. A cherry hefeweizen, the beer is one that they can only brew during the warmer months due to the need for a higher fermentation temperature. As the history of The Big Rip goes, Collins and Feldt met a few years ago while working at the same IT company, and began a friendship after learning both graduated from Northwest Missouri State University. They soon discovered a mutual interest: homebrewing.
While Collins started with a Mr. Beer kit around 2000, his focus eventually shifted to winemaking. As for Feldt, he had been homebrewing for about eight years at that time. So, when Collins got married in February of 2012, he decided to make all of the wine for the reception, and he asked Feldt if he would take on the task of brewing all of the beer. According to Collins, “It went over really well, and we started talking about making a brewery and winery on a small scale.” They didn’t waste much time, and soon afterwards, the process of opening up The Big Rip began.
One of the first things Collins and Feldt had to work on was finding a location, and with the easier Missouri alcohol laws, they eventually decided on North Kansas City. According to Feldt, working with the city made it a no-brainer. “When word got out that we wanted to start a brewery, we received letters from the community and city leaders offering their support,” he said. “The city has been tremendous in helping us start up.” It is very important to the Big Rip to be a part of their local community, which is why they donate 10% of their merchandise revenue to local charities including Bike Walk KC and Urban Growth KC. They also want to be supportive of other brewers and breweries as so many have been very helpful to them.
Once they got into the flow of getting the brewery ready to operate, they worked on a target date for their grand opening. They decided on a soft opening the day before for those who joined their Mug Club, but this year’s Tour de Brew Kansas City on May 19th seemed to be the perfect time to open their doors to the public. They even worked it out to be a stop on the event’s route.
One issue that Collins and Feldt have had is keeping up with the demand for their beers, a good problem they are happily seeking to remedy. Both men still have full time jobs, and are currently brewing about six times a month on their two-barrel system. They have been pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response from people, and are planning to add more capacity in order to accommodate a growing brew demand. They also hope to eventually be able to can and bottle their beers. This fall, they plan on brewing and tapping a number of seasonal beers; to include one made with sweet potatoes, a strong beer which Feldt hopes will end up around 13% ABV, and another brew tentatively called “Oatmeal Raisin Cookie” which will be an exciting porter-like beer. Besides craft beer, they also make their own non-alcoholic drinks such as root beer and sarsaparilla, both of which have proved to be quite popular.
The Big Rip tasting room is currently open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 10 PM, and Sundays from noon to 4 PM. While they do not serve food, they welcome patrons to bring their own, or even have some delivered to the tap room while they hang out. On Fridays, guests can walk next door to Kansas City Smoke Shack BBQ for lunch.
With Collins and Feldt opening The Big Rip Brewing Company, it’s an exciting time for Kansas City beer fans, as more and more options are coming for those who want to enjoy a locally brewed craft beer. Expect more exciting beers from these guys, and check out their website regularly at http://bigripbrewing.com for hours, current beer offerings, and to RSVP for their new Sunday brewery tours. Bottoms up KC!
Brew Room tours every Sunday at 11am
Visit www.bigripbrewing.com to RSVP
The tour costs $5 per person. During the tour you will get a chance to learn about the brewing process, drink good beer, talk to the brewers, relax and did we mention drinking beer? The entire tour lasts about 30 minutes and you are welcome to stay and hang out in the taproom afterwards.