Good news: One of Kansas City’s best but smallest breweries is doubling capacity
Good news in Brookside: BKS Artisan Ales is getting a little bigger.
BKS Artisan Ales (633 E. 63rd St., bksartisanales.com) made our beer of the year, Tiny Clouds, and is celebrating its two-year anniversary on October 18-20th with a series of events at its Brookside taproom. The schedule includes the release of Gold Plated Diapers IPA, a beer name inspired by the famous Saturday Night Live skit, “More Cowbell.” Gold Plated Diapers, a New-England style, triple dry-hopped IPA, builds its profile with Galaxy, Citra and Azacca hops.
“The skit has been a long-time favorite of ours,” says Mary Rooney, who co-owns and operates the brewery and taproom with husband and full-time brewer Brian Rooney. “We’ve talked about making Gold Plated Diapers IPA for a long time and even had the label sketch completed for over a year. Our anniversary was the perfect time to release this beer, and incorporate humor into our beer name and label.”
The Rooneys reflected on their brewery’s growth over two years. “Our main focus when we first opened was to provide the Kansas City market a quality product in a packaged to-go format,” says Mary. “We quickly learned that some customers wanted to spend more time in our tasting room. Other customers wanted more to-go options.”
The owners made ongoing changes to appease both customer bases. BKS Artisan Ales recently expanded the tasting room seating space as well as their brewhouse. The brewery currently has double the brewing capacity and triple the fermentation capacity. BKS is able to produce even more cans, bottles, and growler fills of select beers to-go.
“We can now brew eight barrels of beer per batch. We added new fermenters in August, and also purchased three more fermenters that’ll arrive in December,” says Mary. The expanded brewhouse will ultimately enable BKS to “have four times more fermentation capacity than what we originally started with.”
BKA also recently purchased bourbon, brandy, and wine barrels to age barleywines, imperial stouts, and sour beers in its newly-launched barrel program.
Over two years, the Rooneys have adhered to their goal of organic growth at the brewery “in a way that we could manage,” says Brian, “being careful not to take on more than what we could reasonably handle.”
BKS Artisan Ales is an intentionally small operation. Sales growth at the tap and with packaged beers wasn’t ever the end-all, be-all aim. Brian says, “We needed to first make more beer but not at the expense of quality. We also want to keep it neighborhood-focused, giving our neighborhood customers a place to meet and have an enjoyable time.”
Recent updates have proven a relatively smooth transition for both owners and patrons, finding a balance between more production and more space.
“With our expansion, we are currently doing what we had planned for in year five of our original business model,” Mary says. “The growth of our brewery is only possible because of the customers that visit us every weekend and continue to support us.”
The Rooneys realize they aren’t alone on the path toward growth and sustainability.
“The brewing industry seems to continue the ‘hyperlocal’ focus, and there has been tremendous growth in the Kansas City market,” Mary says. “Local and visiting customers have many options now. Kansas City has a growing selection of outstanding beer options at breweries, craft beer bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. We need to come together as an industry to put Kansas City on the map as a craft beer destination. This is the only way the Kansas City beer industry can continue to grow at the pace we have seen in the last few years.”
BKS Artisan Ales Second Anniversary Celebration Schedule
Friday, October 18
3 pm – Happy hour party with appetizers from Flying Horse Taproom and specials on tap pours.
Saturday, October 19
Noon – Line up for several new beers on tap and three new beers available in 16-oz. cans to-go. Debut of triple dry-hopped Counterculture IPA with a brand new label ($18 per four-pack). Debut of Gold Plated Diapers IPA ($18 per four-pack). New version of Double Double DIPA (Red Label, ($20 per 4-pack). Special tappings of Holstein Milk Stout variants throughout the day begins with Holstein (Kayon Mountain Coffee and Vanilla Bean) followed by Holstein (Chocolate; Vietnamese Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean). The latter two variants will be available for branded 750-ml. growler fills ($9). Hang around for a late afternoon “backyard barbecue“ with food from Heirloom Bakery & Hearth.
Sunday, October 20
Purchase discounted growler fills of select beers. Expanded tasting room hours will also be announced soon for the holiday season, giving patrons more time to enjoy favorite BKS beers or to pick up cans for holiday events.