Calibration Brewery’s Pat Sandman talks recalibrating, Torn Label releases Oscar pilsner, Double Shift throws a parking-lot party and more
Pat Sandman sits at the bar at Calibration Brewery (119 Armour Road, North Kansas City). His rubber boots and scruffy beard give him away, although today he’s not wearing his usual Royals hat. He’s bellied up, finishing a late-afternoon lunch, less than a week after Calibration’s mid-June opening.
Calibration owner Glen Stinson hired Sandman away from 75th Street Brewery earlier this year to be his first brewmaster, and this has been about seven months in the making.
“I felt like this was a good opportunity,” Sandman says.
Sandman says he wasn’t unaware that 75th Street was for sale when he gave his notice to Kansas City’s oldest brewery to set off for its newest one.
“I’m forever grateful to the company for giving me a chance,” he says of his four years at 75th Street. “They’re the reason I’m here now.”
Calibration was a fresh start for Sandman — an opportunity to make his own mark on a brewery.
“Seventy-Fifth Street, I was working with the same six beers they’ve been brewing for 23 years, you know,” he says. “The good thing is that we’re still so young and fresh that we have the kind of leeway to start brewing this a little more if people start liking this instead of that.”’
Sandman wrote the recipes for the first seven beers — Brown Ale, Coconut Brown Ale, Golden Ale, Hefeweizen, IPA, Milk Stout and Scottish Ale. (After my initial visit, I noticed that some of the beers seemed flat, with little aroma. However, the Hefeweizen did have a lot of banana flavor and aroma, and the Scottish Ale was malty, with a hint of dark-fruit spice.)
“I wrote ’em all from scratch,” Sandman says. “I’m going to tweak them a little bit. I’m not 100 percent happy with how they came out. I’ve been working on the CO2, the carbonation levels. Finally got that figured out a little bit. That’s kind of a tricky thing because … if you mess with the CO2 levels so much, you can end up changing the flavors.
“They’ll get better,” he continues. “Trust me. The first couple brews, obviously, you get a couple of hiccups along the way and then my last five have just been solid, good, knock ’em out. Everything has been smooth.”
Sandman says he’s found himself in an adjustment period; Calibration uses an automated seven-barrel system from Brewmation with Stout Tanks — a change after years of working on 75th Street’s old-school 10-barrel system.
“It’s a whole ’nother world now,” he says. “I’m still doing everything the same, but instead of me doing it by hand, me taking my readings for this and my temperature gauges for that, I calibrate the computer and it will take my temperatures. I still have to take my readings of sugar and degrees plato and PH and whatnot. I still have to take those by hand, but a lot of the other stuff is pretty automated, so it’s different to say the least. It took me a minute to get used to it.”
There’s still dirty work to be done. Sandman still does grain-out and cleans the tanks and rakes the mash. But when it comes to opening valves, all he has to do is push a button.
Sandman says Calibration will concentrate on the first seven beers, but eventually he’d like to see seasonals, barrel-aging and more.
“Of course, I want to put the best product possible on tap all of the time,” he says. “But you just learn every day. I just want to brew really good beers.”
Calibration is open six days a week (closed Sundays) and offers a pub-food menu — burgers, hot dogs, gyros, appetizers and more — from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Torn Label’s Oscar pilsner is out this week
Oscar is back. Torn Label’s pilsner (5.8 percent ABV, 36 IBUs) is a draft-only release in Torn Label’s tasting room as well as throughout the city in the coming weeks. Oscar is made with pilsen malt and 100 percent German opal hops.
Double Shift turns one
Double Shift (412 East 18th Street) throws a parking-lot party Saturday for its first anniversary, with bands, anniversary glassware, special beer releases, two bottle releases, raffles, food trucks and yard games from noon to 11 p.m. Damn! That’s a party.
Steer & Beer update
The Pitch is throwing a beer-and-burger festival Saturday, August 6, in the Waldo Pavilion (in the parking lot behind the Well). Tickets are on sale now. Tallgrass, Schlafly and Strongbow Hard Cider are sponsoring the event. Here is what a few of the breweries are bringing:
Martin City Brewing Co. is pouring Belgian Blond, Hardway IPA and Abbey, along with Dream Quest (golden ale fermented and aged in chardonnay barrels). Crane Brewing will have Small Ball Saison, along with its Saison, Farmhouse IPA and Kumquat Weiss.
Ballast Point will be there with Grunion pale ale, Sculpin IPA, Mango Even Keel session ale and Barmy Ale strong golden. Founders will have All Day IPA, Rubaeus, Mosaic Promise and Dirty Bastard, while Public House Brewing will be sampling Elusive IPA, Rod’s Cream Ale and Thorn & Heat Strawberry Wheat. Boulevard will have Frequent Flier, Wheat and Heavy Lifting.
Also scheduled to pour are Amerisports, Gordon Biersch, KC Bier Co., Lagunitas and Santa Fe, with more to be announced.
Sliders will be sold by the Flying Saucer, Amerisports and Dempsey’s.
If you donate a minimum of three non-perishable food items at the event in the Waldo Pavilion — or make a monetary donation — you’ll be entered into a contest to win a prize package.
Cinder Block Brewery is doing a five-course beer dinner at Anton’s Taproom (1610 Main) from 6 to 9 p.m. This is a benefit for KKFI 90.1 as part of the community-radio station’s Pair Excellence series. You’re in for a fun night because Cinder Block’s director of brewing operations, Bryan “Bucky” Buckingham, will be in attendance, talking beer.
Eat cake with Jennifer Helber at Grain to Glass (1611 Swift, North Kansas City) as the brew-supply store celebrates its fourth anniversary. Look for half-price draft beers from 5 to 7 p.m. Cake!
I probably shouldn’t mention this, but get to the tasting room at Torn Label (1708 Campbell). Ask for the Rough Draft beer. Go now while supplies last.
Let’s drink La Chouffe, Liefmans Goudenband and Duvel in honor of Belgian Independence Day at Barley’s Brewhaus (16649 Midland Drive, Shawnee). Belgian beer week continues at the Flying Saucer (101 East 13th Street). Get a seat at the brewers’ table as Boulevard, Duvel, La Chouffe and others show up at 6 p.m. for rare tappings and food pairings.
Martin City Brewing Co. is giving out samples at Gomer’s (201 Missouri 291, Lee’s Summit) from 5 to 8 p.m.
Ballast Point’s 20th anniversary is here, and the California brewery is bringing 16 beers to the Flying Saucer at 6 p.m.
Brookside Wine and Spirits hosts a beer tasting, featuring Mother’s and Oskar Blues, from 4 to 6 p.m. They do this every Friday, so mark it down. Summit brewing is giving out samples at Wooten Liquor (8241 Corinth Mall, Prairie Village) at 5 p.m.
Wannabe homebrewers should head to Grain to Glass for a 101 on brewing beer from 4 to 7 p.m. Get schooled for $50.
Grain to Glass will guide you through IPA styles from noon to 2 p.m. Get your history lesson and five samples for $15.
Coop Ale Works is giving you tasters at Rimann Liquors (3917 Prairie Lane, Prairie Village) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Torn Label is teaming up with Webster House (1644 Wyandotte) for a four-course beer dinner. Tickets cost $45, so RSVP at 816-221-4713. The brewery is bringing KC P’rye’d, Tongue Lash, House Brew and Monk and Honey.
It’s a brewery-night fundraiser at the Flying Saucer at 6 p.m. for Eco Abet architecture and design collective. So go drink some Sudwerks.