Most people who go out for a beer run might come back with a six-pack, but Chris Roberts came back with a whole lot more.
Roberts, 37, is a delivery driver for a local food service company. During a food delivery run six years ago, he looked at the brewhaus inside 23rd Street Brewery in Lawrence and realized he wanted to brew beer. His wife got him a Mr. Beer Kit for Christmas that year and the Red Crow Brewing Company was hatched.
“The first beer I ever made was a Hefeweizen and it was horrible,” Roberts says. “But it was also beyond my wildest expectations. If I can do something myself, then I will take it and obsess over it.”
Right now, Roberts heads off to work, comes home to see his wife Mistie and play with his kids, and then gets cracking on his second job: brewing beer. Mistie and her parents, Joe and Loretta Fisher, are also owners of the “small, family-run microbrewery.” Mistie manages the business, Joe is a brewer-in-training and Loretta is the company’s accountant.
Red Crow has four core beers. There’s a Belgian Style Blonde Ale that took best in show at the Kansas City Nanobrews Festival last summer. The festival was held in the parking lot of the Big Rip Brewing Company in North Kansas City (which along with the Rock & Run Brewery and the Cinder Block Brewing Company were participants in the festival before opening their own brewery). Red Crow’s American Wheat is a hoppy wheat, the Pale Ale is what Roberts calls “an homage to craft brewing,” and a Rye Porter is made with roasted grains.
“The Pale Ale is light and very drinkable. It’s got a nice flavor,” Roberts says. “The Rye Porter is our second most popular beer. The rye gives it a great creaminess and mouthfeel. It looks very similar to a nitro stout in the pour with a tannish color head.”
While Roberts lives in Olathe, he is currently looking in both Kansas and Missouri. He’s hoping to lock down a location soon, so that he can have the brewery up and running by year’s end. He’s envisioning a taproom and a brewery with a production capacity of seven barrels – which would put him squarely between Big Rip and Cinder Block (which The Pitch reported will begin serving its own cider Friday).
Red Crow Brewing will be making appearances on the local beer festival circuit. Roberts plans to attend the 2014 iteration of the KC Nanobrews Festival. He’s also playing around with a winter seasonal – an old ale winter warmer that he likens to a “light wee heavy (a Scotch ale).”
“We just don’t make beers to make beer. Every beer we make is one we enjoy on a regular basis,” Roberts says. “And there’s just so much opportunity in Kansas City for beer right now.”[Images courtesy of Red Crow Brewing]