Michael Crane and Chris Meyers were still developing plans in 2014 to open Crane Brewing. The duo sat in the basement of Michael Crane’s home, where homebrewing equipment, small batches of fermenting beer, and bottles filled the room.
I first met these aspiring professional brewers in July 2014 while researching KC Ale Trail, a book (out of print) covering local and regional breweries in Kansas City and other cities. After a brief walkthrough of the operations, they began to pour samples of Jasmine, a saison infused with jasmine tea, Magenta Beet Berliner Weiss, and other beers. I had never tasted craft beer, much less any beer, like these homebrew recipes. Little did we know what the future would be for craft brewing in Kansas City.
Michael Crane, Crane Brewing, 2021
It is hard to believe how fast seven years have flown by. When you visited my home, we had most recently survived the Parkville Micro Brew Fest which convinced us that yes, indeed, there was an interest in our farmhouse ales, and mixed culture barrel aged and sour beers. At the time there were just a few microbreweries in the KC metro area and a few more were in the planning stages. Who would have ever imagined that over the next few years breweries would pop up all over town?
Looking back it seemed logical that the styles of beer we were most passionate about were best suited for bottle-conditioned large format bottles. After our first year of packaging in 750-ml. bottles, we added a bottling line and changed to 375-ml. and six-packs of 12-oz. bottles. And after a year we switched to cans. It has always seemed like we have to hit a moving target.
Who would have imagined that over time the tastes of craft beer drinkers would shift from wild fermented Brett beers to a multiple versions of IPAs? When I started making a beet beer as a homebrewer, it was considered pretty outrageous. But by today’s standards, putting copious amounts of beets in a beer is pretty tame compared to some of the amazing, fun things brewers are doing today. It has been a roller coaster ride from day one. Just when you think the ride is leveling out, you find that there is another huge hill to climb. There are twists and turns that were totally unexpected. The next day you are all ready to ride the coaster another time.
Chris Meyers, Crane Brewing, 2021
[The photos are a reminder of] meeting every Sunday morning to figuring out next steps in building a brewery to now seeing each other pretty much every day. From brewing on our homebrew systems to having an actual brewhouse, so much has changed and we are still learning every day. Ultimately, we are still doing what we love, brewing and sharing beer. We are fortunate for the continued and growing support from folks that enjoy our beers. We love being a community brewery and we can’t wait to see what else is in our future together.
Pete Dulin is the founder and editor of kcaletrail.com. His most recent book is Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Distilleries and Wineries Across Central Kansas and Missouri. Pete’s other books include Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail (out of print), and Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City’s Best Chefs and Cooks.