Tag Archives: Nebraska Brewing Company

Fall 2017 Brew Tour

September 22, 2017 by
Photography by Doug Meigs and provided

When temperatures drop and leaves crunch underfoot, Midwesterners crane their necks at the gray sky and try not to think of daily commutes soon to be spent in darkness. The wind is picking up, and the days grow shorter and shorter. Winter is coming, fellow Omahans. It’s time to find refuge from the cold.

Where better to stay cozy than in one of the metro’s growing number of microbreweries and affiliated brewpubs?  Read on for a complete list of venues producing and serving local beer (listed in alphabetical order). Choose a barstool, lest you are left out in the cold.

Benson Brewery
6059 N. Maple St.
402-934-8668
bensonbrewery.com

Adorned with wood floors and hipster lamps, Benson Brewery is situated in a remodeled space that was once home to a movie theater (in the early years of the 20th century). Enjoy a cold Karha-T as your body warms inside; this English ale is spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla, and is the perfect autumn beverage. Or choose one of the other nine beers or hard cider on tap.

Brickway Brewery & Distillery
1116 Jackson St.
402-933-2613
drinkbrickway.com

Also a distillery, this brewery has the unique ability to age their beers in whiskey barrels and their whiskey in beer barrels. Brickway keeps their Oktoberfest traditional, and this amber brew is featured at their Oktoberfest event, where attendees get to drink this beer straight from the tank it was brewed in.

Farnam House Brewing Co.
3558 Farnam St.
402-401-6086
farnamhousebrewing.com

After years of traveling Europe to study the best beers, the owners of Farnam House emphasize Old World-style brews with a Belgian and German influence. Thus, it is no surprise that they are proud of their Oktoberfest brew, aged for six weeks for a well-rounded and mellow finish. Their Spiced Tripel is another fall favorite packed with gravity.

Granite City Food & Brewery
1001 N. 102nd St.
402-393-5000
gcfb.com

A national brewpub franchise, Granite City locations brew beer on location. From their Batch 1000 Double IPA to Broad Axe Oatmeal Stout, Granite City has something for everyone. They offer an Oktoberfest and a Vanilla Porter on a seasonal basis, so get it while it lasts (and maybe snag some waffle fries, too).

Infusion Brewing Co.
Benson
402-916-9998
6115 Maple St.

Southwest Omaha
402-934-2064
6271 S. 118th Circle
infusionbrewing.com

A meat market turned brewery in downtown Benson, Infusion Brewing Company prides itself on adding unique ingredients—such as vanilla or cocoa—to their beers. In 2016, they also added a second brewery/tap room location on the edge of Sarpy County. Look out for their fall favorites: Infusionfest and Red X IPA. Vanilla Bean Blonde Ale is their top-seller through the year.

Jaipur Brewing Co.
10922 Elm St.
402-392-7331
jaipurindianfood.com

Located in Rockbrook Village, the Jaipur restaurant features a fusion of authentic Indian cuisine and on-site brewing of several unique beers. Their Jalapeño Ale offers a hot “kick” particularly appropriate for cold days. The restaurant’s owner says Jaipur has been selling beer since first opening in 1992—making it Nebraska’s first and Omaha’s longest-running craft brewery.

Kros Strain Brewing Co.
10411 Portal Road, Suite 102
402-779-7990
krosstrainbrewing.com

Brand new to the La Vista area in 2017, Kros Strain Brewing is “Nebraska Fresh,” a motto that is featured on their 24-foot mural that highlights beers set for release. Try one of their startup brews: Helles Creek, Dark Paradise, Fairy Nectar, and Supa Juice.

Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.
402-763-8868
11941 Centennial Road, Suite 1
luckybucketbrewing.com

Lucky Bucket Brewing Company hit the ground running in 2008 with their Pre-Prohibition Lager, perfected over time spent experimenting with barrel-aged beers and unique flavors. This eventually developed into five year-round beers and four seasonal favorites (including an Oktoberfest, which they boast “even Bavarian Prince Ludwig would trade his bride for”). Their Conspiracy Series also offers limited batch beers, and the brewery’s sister distillery—Cut Spike—offers craft liquors at the tap room.

Nebraska Brewing Co.
La Vista (tap room)
6950 S. 108th St.
402-934-7988

Shadow Lake Towne Center (brewpub)
7474 Towne Center Parkway, Suite 101
402-934-7100
nebraskabrewingco.com

Nebraska Brewing Company’s six standard beers offer year-round easy drinking for those who enjoy the hoppier side of the spectrum. If that’s not your ballgame, no worries. They also offer more than a dozen seasonal brews, along with several high-end craft options in their bottled Reserve Series. For those seeking something truly unique, there is the experimental Inception Series—barrel-aged beers that come in limited supply with names such as “Ninja Gnome” and “Fuchsian.”

Pint Nine Brewing Co.
10411 Portal Road
402-359-1418
pintninebrewing.com

Named for the traditional pint and nine ounce bottles that came to us from Europe back when we had to depend on them for good beer, the folks at Pint Nine appreciate a good German lager or English ale. But that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate innovation. All you have to do is check out their Pink Peppercorn Wit or Hot Burst Blonde to realize that. The Papillion tap room just opened summer 2017.

Scriptown Brewing Co.
3922 Farnam St.
402-991-0506
scriptownbrewing.com

Do you know about “session beers?” Scriptown specializes in these brews, which feature a lower ABV than other craft beers, allowing for hours of drinking, conversation, and fun. If you’re looking for something a bit stronger, try Dmitri’s Revenge, a Russian Imperial Stout at 9.4 ABV.

Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewing
17111 S. 138th St. (Springfield)
402-253-2479
soaringwingswine.com

This vineyard is more than just grapes. Soaring Wings offers nine specially brewed beers, ranging from a light, American-style lager to their hefty Imperial Stout, aged in wine barrels for six months and tipping the scales at 10.7 ABV. Be sure to enjoy the covered deck and beautiful vista of the Nebraska countryside while the weather permits.

Thunderhead Brewing Co.
13304 W. Center Road, No. 126
402-802-1600
thunderheadbrewing.com

From humble beginnings in Kearney, Nebraska, Thunderhead expanded eastward to the Big O in 2016. Enjoy beers with clever names like “Your Argument is Invalid” in their lovely indoor and outdoor spaces.

Upstream Brewing Co.
514 S. 11th St.
402-344-0200
upstreambrewing.com

Upstream Brewing Company has been open since 1996. They boast of being Omaha’s “original brewpub,” and they offer on-site brews and a rotating selection of cask-conditioned ales. While this brewery specializes in ales, they always take the time to age their popular Oktoberfest brew, which is malty and smooth.

Vis Major Brewing Co.
3501 Center St.
402-884-4082
vismajorbrewing.com

Vis Major, Latin for “act of God,” boasts of treating craft brewing as an art form, emphasizing intricate nuances of taste and complexity. Their Proverbial Pumpkin ale is the go-to for fall, sporting hints of cinnamon and other spices. Their tap room opened in between Field Club and Hanscom Park during 2017.

Zipline Brewing Co.
721 N. 14th St.
402-475-1001
ziplinebrewing.com

Born in Lincoln, this 5-year-old brewery opened a satellite Omaha location next door to Film Streams’ downtown location in 2017. Zipline emphasizes adventure, sustainability, and connecting with customers. Try something dark this fall with their Coconut Stout, or go the more traditional route with their Oktoberfest inspired Festbier, a crisp lager to match the weather.

This article was printed in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Hoplicious

November 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It is a good time to be alive if you are a craft beer lover. The state now boasts over 20 breweries, with more than half of those right here in the metro. Here’s my list of fave notables to try the next time you reach for a cold one.

Flagship IPA
Upstream Brewing Company
Loaded with hops, this India Pale Ale is a full-bodied, unfiltered ale with a gorgeous amber hue. A generous use of malt offers a mild sweetness to back the robust citrus, piney, hop flavor. Dry-hopping intensifies the wonderful aroma and complexity of this brew.
6.4% abv
Available at Upstream Brewing Company and select bars.

Cardinal Pale Ale
Nebraska Brewing Company
Copper in color with a lasting white head, this beer is the quintessential example of an American Pale Ale. It is hopped with copious amounts of Cascade for a wonderful grapefruit aroma and mellow bitterness.
6.0% abv
Available in cans at craft beer retailers.

Certified Evil
Lucky Bucket Brewing Co.
Dark and ominous, this imperial porter is aggressively hopped and full of roasted malts. Complex, dark fruit flavors of raisin and fig, along with molasses and honey, make this a wonderful addition to a steak dinner or chocolate dessert.
9.1% abv
Available in bottles at craft beer retailers.

Chocolate Pistachio Milk Porter
Infusion Brewing Company
Brewed with English Malt and a generous amount of cocoa powder, this beer begins with a round, full-bodied, chocolate flavor accompanied by notes of coffee and vanilla. With a sweet beginning and long cocoa finish, this porter is a wonderful dessert brew.
5.8% abv
Available on tap at Infusion Brewing Company and select bars.

Jalapeno Ale
Jaipur Brewing Company and Restaurant
A wheat beer base fermented with fresh jalapenos delivers a pleasant pepper aroma and flavor. This is the perfect accompaniment for the spicy Indian cuisine found at Jaipur.
Currently available only at Jaipur Brewing Company and Restaurant.

Brewer’s Duet – Coffee Cream Stout
Benson Brewery
Brewed in collaboration with neighbor Aroma’s Coffee Shop, this beer offers beautiful aromas of coffee and chocolate. Unlike some coffee stouts that can be astringent and bitter, this one is blended with high quality, cold-pressed coffee and brewed with added lactose milk sugar in lending a slightly sweet finish.
6.2% abv
Currently available only at Benson Brewery.

Keller German Lager
Farnam House Brewing Company
An unfiltered German-style amber lager, the cool fermentation temperature yields an extremely crisp and clean beer with a mild bitterness, perfectly balancing the caramel malt profile.  A wonderfully easy-drinking, sessionable beer that is perfect on any occasion.
5.5% abv
Currently available only at Farnam House Brewing Company.

Borgata Pilsner
Borgata
This is a crisp and clean lager with a thick white head. Subtle notes of honey, melon, and biscuit start on the nose and end with a mellow, bitter finish.
4.8% abv
Available in cans at craft beer retailers.

Nut Brown
Zipline Brewing (Lincoln)
Made with a blend of specialty dark malts, this English-Style Brown Ale is a harmonious blend of coffee, chocolate, and caramel flavors. A dark brown sugar sweetness later yields to a dry-roasted bitterness.
5.8% abv
Available in bottles at craft beer retailers and select bars.

Burning Skye Scottish Style Ale
Empyrean Brewing Co. (Lincoln)
Inspired by Scotland’s easy-drinking, malt-forward beers, this brew has a subtle caramel sweetness and a hint of smoke. It pairs wonderfully with grilled game or barbecue.
5.3% abv
Available in bottles at craft beer retailers and at Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill.

 

Chad Rozniecki is the Beer Specialist and Systems Implementation Manager at Brix Wine and Spirits. The professional brewer formerly owned The Lauter Tun craft beer bar in Omaha. Over the last decade he has also bartended at various craft beer bars and breweries around town.

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Beer Festivals

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For those not yet indoctrinated into the world of craft beer, the term “beer fest” is likely one that evokes images of Munich during Oktoberfest or something else in the realm of drinking for the sake of consumption.

In every one of these articles, we’re searching for deeper meaning, however. For our discussion here, we’ll be exploring beer fests in the sense of discovery, education, shared interests, and time spent broadening what the world of craft beer can mean to you.

Beer fests of late—those with goals such as those I’ve just mentioned—are built around a four- or five-hour experience where fest-goers pay a nominal fee in exchange for a fantastic day spent with brewers, brewery owners, beer zealots, and others just like yourself who are out to learn.

Sure, it’s entirely possible to spend your time at a beer fest tasting four-ounce samples at a rate that would be staggering to most. But those little four-ounce samples—the overall number of which is usually determined by your own tolerance of the day’s fun—are geared to allow you to taste a broad spectrum of breweries, particular styles, and unusual offerings, all under the auspices of fest organizers eager and ready to help you understand the particular pour. They bring along history, anecdotal information, and an introduction to the people and the culture behind the world that has become craft beer.

So are there beer festivals that exist locally that offer such learning opportunities? Absolutely. And the better fests out there actually provide for cab rides home and other people-friendly elements geared to not only get and keep your interest in craft beer, but to ensure you’re fully enjoying yourself and able to return to the next fest!

Nearly every single weekend in the Omaha area you’ll find some sort of beer or craft beer-related event. I draw a distinction because beer in general can be anything—imports, macro brands, and macro brands made to look like American-made small-batch craft beer. Both are good but, in my opinion, you’ll find the true culture embedded in the little brewery owner doing his best to get you to notice.

Timing is everything, so if you’re up for an afternoon of smiles, check out Sunfest in late July, which is put on by the folks at The Crescent Moon, 36th and Farnam streets. Or check out the Great Nebraska Beer Fest in late August in Papillion. You might also check in with some of your local Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits guys, as they have numerous educational mini-fests running quite often. I think you get the point though…Get out there, sample a few brews, and learn a little!

And as always, drink responsibly and designate a driver.

Follow a Craft Beer Calendar

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

To many, reaching for a beer is a pretty simple affair—grabbing whatever is on sale or sits on top in the cooler. But I’m not here to advocate for simplicity when it comes to your choice of beverage. Putting some timely thought behind your selection can pay some great dividends!

As I write this, the sun is shining, the temperatures are finally rising, and the desire to get outdoors is overpowering. Just as certain craft beers pair beautifully with particular foods, so too do the myriad styles of craft beer find select pairings with the seasons, hence, the phrase “seasonal beers.”

Seasonal beers offer their peak appeal within a particular time of year. Certain styles have become the norm for the type of activities people find themselves involved in or the type of weather they’re experiencing. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. Darker, maltier styles are well-suited to the colder months due to their more filling and higher alcoholic nature, for example; thus, they are popular in the fall and winter.

But we’re now several weeks into spring, so which craft beers marry well with springtime? Spring seasonals tend to have a straw or golden color, a lively effervescence, and a bitterness rate geared toward quenching a growing thirst.

Pale ales, “smaller” IPAs (just a bit bigger in stature than pale ales), and wheat beer styles are perfectly suited to the warming temperatures and activities of springtime. And like good wine, beers also have many intriguing variations and tilts on a style that will keep you entertained throughout the season. You need not chose just one seasonal option—you can find several you enjoy!

One of my personal favorites is wheat beer—American, German, Belgian—and with brews from so many little regions within these countries, the list is quite long. Wheat beers are generally made with 50 percent wheat/50 percent malted barley. Most are cloudy in nature due to the yeast and proteins left in suspension because of a deliberate lack of filtration. Differences emerge in the artistry of the brewer. American wheats are fairly straightforward, less challenging, or possibly a bit less entertaining, while the German wheats can be hugely effervescent and possess a nose bursting with banana, clove, and vanilla. There are many variations within the German ranks, but as I’m here to guide you, I’ll send you right to an immensely pleasing German Hefeweizen (pronounced “hefay veitzen”).

Most area grocery or bottle stores carry a nice selection of seasonal craft beers, and the local brewers either have one on tap year-round or are just gearing up for the seasonal change. This is one of the easiest times of the year to make your own personal-best seasonal choice.

Now, get out there and try a few!

Craft Beer & Charcuterie

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sometimes, a craft beer is best when enjoyed all by itself. A singular item to cut away the day’s stress or a social lubricant to foster communication and social interaction.

The reality is that craft beer is best when paired with other fine things in life. Sure, events loom large when one considers a beer’s largest stage, but if you think about it for a moment, beer—and specifically craft beer—finds its shining light in moments shared with food.

Beer & Food pairings have become the norm. Detailed and very deliberate styles and brands of craft beers married up with very specific and extraordinary foods. The results are oftentimes completely beyond the expected. I mean, who would think that a very bitter India Pale Ale when paired up with a pungent bleu cheese would find taste descriptors that tend toward sweet, candy, or even dessert-like? Malty craft beers with smoked Gouda cheese resulting in an entirely new taste experience—a perfect creaminess on the palate, where the carbonation from the beer cleanses and washes, preparing the taste buds for the next encounter.

Some of the extremes in this Beer & Food pairing phenomena find sanctuary in charcuterie and craft beer. Craft beer, we understand at this point, is defined as small-batch, extremely flavorful, and painstakingly created beer. Charcuterie may be more foreign to some of you. Simplified, charcuterie is a French word for “cold cuts”—but not your fridge variety. Charcuterie is the equivalent of craft beer within the custom realm of sausages, salamis, artisanal meats, cheeses, accompaniments, and sheer culinary excitement. Paired with their counterpart in craft beer, we find a confluence of substance and liquid not found independently. You owe it to yourself to find some of the local venues who specialize in either and sometimes both.

Great craft beer can now come from almost anywhere—a grocery store, tap house, brewery, or bottle shop. And if I can provide some guidance, The French Bulldog in the Omaha area has some fantastic charcuteries to begin your path toward experimentation. They know the craft and understand how to convey to the first-time patron of a C&CB encounter a common language to impart understanding, remove doubt and fear, and open a world of flavor, taste, and sometimes extremism that is not elitist.

It’s a realm of discovery, Beer & Food pairing. You truly owe it to yourself and friends to seek out the corners of existence. Once you do, you’ll be forever changed.

Give these combinations a try:

  • The buttery and tender flavor of prosciutto complements Lucky Bucket’s soft-bodied Wheat and tangy sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Capocolla’s flavors of white pepper, cinnamon, and cloves taste great with Lucky Bucket’s Lager and smoked Gouda.
  • Lucky Bucket’s IPA gave bleu cheese a creamy flavor, balanced by Pancetta, an Italian, Croatian, and Slovenian bacon.
  • Certified Evil by Lucky Bucket pairs well with the spices of Genoa Salami and a smooth, fresh mozzarella cheese.

Beer & Food

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Chef, baker, vintner, cheesemaker, distiller, brewer. All require incredible talent and painstaking skill to climb the higher rungs within their respective arts. Look at the titles again and to an extent, I’m betting your definitions of each are likely fairly superficial—a baker makes pastries, a vintner makes wine, a brewer makes beer, etc.—and that’s fine if they were. Each is given to an individual discipline, and all are bent on pleasing people, and for good reason. After all, these tradesmen and women are asking John Q. Public to trade his hard-earned cash for their well-crafted product.

But if you take a closer look at these professions and think a bit deeper…about how broad their fields of expertise must be to excel…you realize on second thought that a winemaker, for example, has quite a few different wines to master as part of their repertoire. The brewer? Hopefully, you were able to come up with a few different styles given your own personal experiences. And it’s quite alright if you couldn’t name 10 different styles or 40 or 75…That’s why I’m writing this column.

My name is Paul Kavulak, and I’m a brewpub owner, along with my wife, Kim. Within the confines of this article and this magazine, we’ll explore the world that has become craft beer. I’m not here to judge other brewpubs or dwell too long on any given facet of brewing but rather to educate and enlighten readers on all the varieties of beer—beer that is made by small, independent, and privately owned breweries focused entirely on the quality of their products, the enjoyment of their fans, and the education and inclusion of so many of you who may not have already joined the ranks of the craft beer movement.

Already a fan? Fantastic. Together, we’ll learn a bit more than we knew yesterday. No one likes a lecturer, so I intend to push my own envelope and take you along for the ride. Join me.