Bier Station expands its kitchen and patio and works on a couple of collaboration brews; plus, Big Ass Stout Day, Border’s first anniversary

John Couture grabs his laptop and calls up renderings for the expanded patio at his beer bar and bottle shop, Bier Station. The excitement is noticeable in his eyes.

“We’re totally redoing it,” Couture says. The 30-seat patio will feature retractable, waterproof canopies and gas-powered heat lamps. Workers broke ground on the project last week, with a goal of finishing, “weather permitting,” in March. “We’re going to expand out into a couple of parking spaces,” Couture says. “I know parking isn’t the greatest here, but I think people would sacrifice a little bit of that to have an awesome patio.”

Last October, when Couture bought the building at 120 East Gregory Boulevard that has been Bier Station’s home since late 2012, he conducted a quiet survey of his customers, asking how they wanted to see the shop evolve. More patio space was one request. Another: more on the menu.

“We gradually ramped up food,” Couture says. Joining the brats and the pretzels soon: smoked foods, burgers, fish and chips and seasonal items, thanks to a revamping of what was a small kitchen. Walls were knocked down. Hot plates have been set aside. Calls to friends were made.

Couture consulted with Happy Gillis co-owner Josh Eans. “If anybody knows how to do something in a small kitchen, it’s Josh,” Couture says. The chef “talked to us about how we could make the most of our space.”

“We have this awesome European oven that we’re going to be using,” Couture says, “and we kind of want to see what it can do.”

Running the kitchen is Jacob Kruger.

“People love his soups,” Couture says. “He’s been doing some really creative stuff.

“We’re excited to be able to use the talents of our staff more with the new kitchen,” Couture adds. “We have Joe Storm on staff, who won the St. Elizabeth’s smoke-off two years ago.”

Other changes made: The carpet in the upstairs biergarten has been replaced with stain-resistant flooring, anticipating an uptick in events booking. That space also has a new HVAC system and insulated panels to make it more comfortable in the summer. Sound panels have been installed in the downstairs bottle shop to baffle what have sometimes been harsh acoustics. Couture says the plan is to book more live music as well as music trivia on Monday nights, relocated from RecordBar.

There’s also a smartphone app in development that would enable mobile ordering for food and beer from their tables, closing tabs and putting in to-go orders.

Bier Station is also working on beer. Expect two collaborations to arrive this spring, coming on the heels of last year’s successful release, with Martin City Brewing Co., of Station to Station Berliner Weisse. Earlier this month, Couture traveled to Fort Collins, Colorado, to work on a session IPA (5 percent ABV) with Odell Brewing Co.’s pilot brewer, Brent Cordle.

“We got to be embedded with the brew process,” says Couture, who shoveled some grain and added some hops. “We wanted a really strong, nice, vibrant hop flavor. They seemed to heed some of our requests. We definitely felt like we had some input.” The session IPA will be a draft exclusive at Bier Station and the Colorado brewery. “We’re hoping to have it ready for Royals opening day,” Couture says.

Bier Station is also collaborating with Torn Label Brewing Co. on an altbier — Robert Altbier, named for famed director and Kansas Citian Robert Altman. Couture says the name came about because of Torn Label’s Rafi Chaudry, who logged time as a film producer. He expects the German brown beer to be ready by spring. He’s hoping the beer will be for sale in 22-ounce bottles as well as on draft.

“We’d love to have it for sale,” Couture says.

This week …

Thursday, February 18
Porter fans, head to Flying Saucer (101 East 13th Street) at 6 p.m. for a chocolaty tasting. The UFO is cracking open a vertical of Deschutes’ anniversary imperial porter: Black Butte XXIV, XXV, XXVI and XXVII.

It’s hop night at Waldo Pizza (7433 Broadway), featuring the coveted Bell’s Hopslam. Get an 8-ounce pour (one per customer), plus Alpine Pure Hoppiness, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, New Belgium Citradelic and Odell Myrcenary. These hoppy beers go on tap starting at 5 p.m. 

Gordon Biersch (100 East 14th Street; 11652 Ash, Leawood) taps Hero’s Ale, an Irish-style red ale, from 5 to 9 p.m. , with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local first responders.

Stop by Irish Pub (6332 Raytown Road, Raytown) at 7 p.m. to try four Crane beers.

Friday, February 19
Taste Tallgrass beer at Plaza Liquor (4500 Belleview) from 4 to 7 p.m.; Empyrean brews at Rimann Liquors (15117 West 87th Street Parkway, Lenexa) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.; and Crane beers at Red Door Wine Store (229 Southeast Main, Lee’s Summit) at 6 p.m. Or hit the Green Flash hoppy hour, with Alpine Pure Hoppiness and Nelson, and Green Flash Soul Style and Handshake IPA, at Bier Station (120 East Gregory Boulevard), starting at 5 p.m.

Flying Saucer (101 East 13th Street) gets into some rare Jolly Pumpkin beers.

Saturday, February 20
Big Ass Stout Day arrives, so get your drinking shoes on and warm up your Uber thumb. From noon to close, the Foundry (424 Westport Road) is offering full or 6-ounce pours of these heavyweights: 4 Hands Madagascar, Bell’s Expedition 2014, Bell’s 30th Anniversary, Boulevard Imperial Stout, Deschutes Abyss, Firestone Walker Velvet Merkin, Founders Breakfast Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Humbolt Black Xantus, Lagunitas High Westified, Perennial Abraxas, Perennial Sump 2014, Prairie Bomb, Sierra Nevada Narwahl 2014, and possibly McCoy’s Ursa Major.

Also: A Green Flash tasting at Lukas Liquor (13657 Washington) from noon to 3 p.m. Or do pilates and drink Crane Brewing beer at the brewery (6615 Railroad Street, Raytown) at 9:30 a.m. (Classes are $15 in advance, $20 day of.)

Sunday, February 21
Celebrate Border Brewing Co.’s (406 East 18th Street) first anniversary with a mystery beer, food trucks and more from noon to 8 p.m. Pie Hole will give away 75 pies to the first 75 people through the door.

Do an off-flavor tasting at Bier Station (120 East Gregory Boulevard) from 7 to 9 p.m.

Monday, February 22
Barleywine Week begins at the Flying Saucer (101 East 13th Street), with Firestone Walker 2014 Sucaba and Helldorado at 6 p.m.

Tuesday, February 23
Night Two of Barleywine Week at the Saucer brings Founders 2014 Old Curmudgeon and Backwoods Bastards at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, February 24
At 6 p.m., Westport Ale House (4128 Broadway) taps Breckenridge Twenty Five Imperial Vanilla porter and 72 Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout.

Barley’s Brewhaus (16649 Midland Drive, Shawnee) taps the controversial Hard Way IPA — to whose name Martin City Brewing Co. won the rights, beating out Budweiser.

Cinder Block celebrates Stout Month by tapping five big beers — Nitro Foreign Export Stout, CBB004 Oyster Stout and three versions of Black Squirrel (2013 and 2014 Bourbon Barrel-Aged Squirrel, and the first tapping of the un-oaked 2014 Squirrel). Get there at 4 p.m. 

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