This story first ran on Flatland.* Heavy trucks, laden with construction materials, thud down Genessee Street in the West Bottoms. The trucks roll past storefronts covered in butcher paper and the old site of the Golden Ox, which is now set to be reborn in two stages with two businesses. First up is the Stockyards Brewing Company (1600 Genessee Street, Suite 100) – a new production brewery and taproom that plans to open in March. The second is a modern take on the steakhouse from Wes Gartner and partner Jill Myers, who own and operate Voltaire across the street.
Outside the front door of The Golden Ox space, the sounds of hammering beat away the silence that has blanketed Kansas City’s Stockyard District for years.
“People in Kansas City really want to drink great beer,” said co-owner Greg Bland, who is launching Stockyards with his parents David Bland and Marianne Roos, and his partner Ray Kerzner. “And now is a great time for us because we’re moving into a local push and a beer push at the exact same time.”
Bland moved to Kansas City in 2010 to work for Travois – his family’s consulting business that focuses on housing and economic development within Native American communities. He had been an avid homebrewer in Boulder, Colorado, inspired by the beer culture that has infused that community. So, he found a space in the West Bottoms, where he could brew beer and also tinker with building metal furniture.
“I felt more at home here in the old Livestock District, it reminded me of Montana,” said Bland, a Big Sky Country native. “I’m also a political nerd and knowing that this was Tom Pendergast’s ward and precinct drew me in, as well.”
Bland watched as Kansas City’s beer culture began to evolve. He entered a home brew competition – the only one he’s entered to date – and took bronze for a Black IPA. Through homebrewing, he met Brendan Gargano, the brewery’s creative director, and designer of the Stockyards logo. And Bland began to think about what it would take to open a production brewery in KC.
He talked to Kerzner, his former college roommate at the University of Colorado, and the two developed a business plan together. Bland began to scout potential brewery locations in the West Bottoms and Bill Haw Jr. mentioned that the Golden Ox space might be available. The Golden Ox was where Bland and his family would bring clients visiting Kansas City because it had the familiar feel of a Montana steakhouse. Stockyards signed a lease for the space in March 2015.
“There was such a buzz when people found out we took over the space,” said Bland, standing behind the original bar of the Golden Ox, which will be the central feature of the brewery’s taproom. “It’s just a cinder block wall, if we tore it all down.”
Last summer, Bland met Micah Weichert, the brewmaster at Gordon Biersch, who previously worked at 75th Street Brewery. Weichert agreed to be a consultant brewer, helping to develop the recipes for Stockyards and run the brew house.
“I know homebrewing is not professional brewing,” said Bland. I’m not trying to be a professional brewer, but I also didn’t want to open a home brewery.”
The brewery will open with five or six beers on tap, including a scaled-up version of Bland’s Black IPA.
“I don’t like black IPAs to be black in color only. You might as well just add food coloring,” said Bland. “It very will have a very strong malt character. I want it to be roasty and taste like a stout and then finish like an IPA. “
The brewery is working on a German-style Hefeweizen and a Golden Alt – an homage to the Golden Ox – that will use golden malts in lieu of the more traditional Munich malt and have a more present hop character to balance out the brew. Weichert is excited what they’re calling a brunch stout.
“It’s after breakfast, but before lunch,” said Weichert. “It will have a complexity of character because there’s rye, oatmeal, and a little bit of everything in there.”
They’re also developing an India Pale Lager.
“It’s like a blend of a really crisp Pilsner and a light summer lager with a good finishing hop aroma. It’ll be a great summer beer,” said Weichert.
The brewing equipment arrived in September from American Beer Equipment in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was installed in December. The brewery will open with a 15-barrel system in the brew house, part of the former dining room at the Golden Ox. They’re considering canning their brews and making it available in kegs.
Melissa VanGoethem, one of the original founders of Coffee Girls, will manage the attached taproom. They’ll be serving flights, as well as full pours, but haven’t yet landed on a to-go option. On the food side, Bland has been chatting with Todd Schulte, co-owner of the Genessee Royale Bistro across the street. They’re looking at appetizers like a meat and cheese plate, pickled vegetables, or a black-eyed pea salsa. Stockyards would also like to have options available from the Golden Ox’s kitchen, when it reopens.
The brewery will offer tours and will be open from Wednesday through Sunday to start.
“We want to be a hometown brewer,” said Bland. “The building alone has a very strong hometown tie and we have to hold on to that.”
*KCPT’s Hale Center for Journalism serves as a center for local multimedia journalism and collaboration with PBS, NPR and regional news sources. The Center houses Flatland, an open-source, digital forum producing stories and conversations about things that matter in Kansas City.