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KC Bier Company celebrating three years in town with a beer blowout

Anyone who knows me, even casually, knows that I’m more of a wine guy than a beer guy.

In my 20s, though, I drank beer almost exclusively. And, truth be told, had the current craft beer explosion happened when I first started exploring wine there might have been a much frothier path in my drinking future.

There are upwards of 30 breweries in the metro these days. Not 10 years ago, that number was in the low single digits. By my count, the number of breweries in Kansas City has tripled in just the last three or four years.

One of those newer breweries is KC Bier Company. Celebrating its third anniversary with a huge beer blowout on Feb. 11.

The celebration, going on 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at KC Bier Company, 310 W. 79th St., will include food specials, live music, brewery tours and, of course, lots of beer.

KC Bier Company set out to make authentic German-style biers and sell them locally. Consider both goals achieved.

“I’m very pleased with the acceptance we’ve gotten. And another thing that I’m pleased about is the fact that we sell 100 percent of our bier within 50 miles of the brewery,” KC Bier Company founder Steve Holle said.

KC Bier Company has modeled Boulevard Brewing’s recipe for success — dominate the local market first, then look beyond the horizon. And, like Boulevard did with its Unfiltered Wheat and Pale Ale, Holle and company are accomplishing that with a core bier that dominates the market.

“Right now, that’s the Dunkel. The ratios have changed a bit since we’ve started bottling our bier. But when we were just selling draft bier, the Dunkel was 75 percent of sales. It’s still around 60-percent in bottles,” Holle commented.

Holle says the Dunkel, which means dark, copies a traditional brown Munich lager. Holle describes it as “medium-bodied with a slightly sweet, toasted bread crust malt flavor and smooth finish accentuated with just enough noble hop bitterness to balance the malt.”

I’d just call it tasty.

Holle and I chatted about KC Bier company, past, present, and future, over a couple glasses of bier recently. As a well-studied home brewer, Holle told me he knew the theoretics of brewing bier and running a brewery, but quickly realized the realities were sometimes different.

“We’d have the brewmaster from Boulevard in here. He’d see something we were doing and say, ‘Yeah, I did that and it didn’t work. You’re gonna have to change that.’ So, there have been some times where we’ve had to retrace our steps a bit,” Holle said.

Whatever missteps there were, you will not find them in the glass. KC Bier Company, with its emphasis on malt and balance over hops and extract, brews a bevy of beers I really enjoy.

Theirs are not tripled hopped ales or high alcohol espresso stouts that grab you by the collar and demand your attention, but beers like the Helles and Hefeweizen that are round and soft and extremely drinkable. Holle and KC Bier Co have found their niche, but not without some frustration.

“The thing that sort of bothers me is that because we’re not adding lemongrass, or vanilla, or coffee beans to our beer, it doesn’t seem quite as crafty. But on the other hand, it takes six weeks to make the Helles.

“It’s unfiltered. It’s naturally carbonated. So we do a lot of things that are hard to do, that nobody else does because it takes a lot of time and effort. People don’t recognize that yet,” Holle said.

Holle says he expects that to change over time. I just hope his beers never do. My only regret? That I will not be able to attend the anniversary party and sample the 20 or more beers they will have available.

Happy Anniversary KC Bier Company. Here’s to many more.

Prost!

Dave Eckert is a partner with Flavor Trade, a Kansas City-based gourmet food incubator and co-packer. Before that, Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.