Cinder Block Brewery lays the groundwork for kegs and bottles in 2015
Cinder Block Brewery has moved at its own pace since it opened in September 2013. Though craft-beer drinkers have clamored for Cinder Block to send kegs of its beer outside its North Kansas City taproom, owner Bryce Schaffter has chosen to wait until the time is right.
“We always said that it’s going to grow organically,” Schaffter says. “When things are ready, it’s going to happen.”
In 2015, it’s finally happening for Cinder Block.
“We will be distributing in kegs by the first of the year,” Schaffter tells The Pitch. “It just felt like the right time.”
Schaffter is still finalizing details with the distributor, so he’s not quite ready to name names. The plan is to start with kegs of Cinder Block’s flagship beers and also do bottles of the brewery’s higher-alcohol releases. Then, those flagship beers will be released in cans at a later date.
“We bought a canner,” Schaffter says. “A small, small, small, small canner. Small enough that it can be on wheels but big enough for us.”
Cinder Block’s brewing schedule is now once a week, maybe once every two weeks, with each batch kicking out 26–30 half-barrel kegs.
“We could easily cut that in half and still serve easily the taproom and serve our year-round six beers to 20-some bars, and still be OK and not have to change up brewing once a week,” Schaffter says. “If things start gaining momentum, yeah, we might have to brew a couple of times a week. Everything is set up to do that.”
Until Cinder Block’s 2015 rollout, the taproom is the place to be for the brewery’s beers. And those taps are pouring with several new beers.
Earlier this week, Cinder Block released Cinder Noel, a seasonal beer that Schaffter describes as a “Belgian-style winter beer,” with an ABV of 11 percent. He says it was spiced with coriander and 40 pounds of orange zest.
“It has somewhat of a fruit note that comes with it, but it’s a darker Belgian at the same time,” he adds.
Among the past few months’ releases are Copious Brown, made with 32 pounds of Vermont maple syrup, aged on whiskey oak staves and served on nitro (8.5 percent ABV, 25 IBUs); the easily drunk Rough Cut Lager, the first beer that Cinder Block has ever lagered or filtered (6.5 percent ABV, 21 IBUs); and a cherry cider, made with Michigan tart cherries (6 percent ABV).
“We kind of went on a run and started kicking out new stuff,” Schaffter says.
Aside from distribution in 2015, Cinder Block has plans for the next addition to the Hop Maven series (a black IPA); releases of a 1-year-old bourbon-barrel-aged Black Squirrel Russian Imperial Stout and a 2014 Black Squirrel; a couple of new ciders (one dry and one hoppy); and Collapsed Barleywine, which is being aged in 10-year-old brandy barrels and pops with candy flavors such as dark sugars and raisins (13 percent ABV).
Collapsed isn’t to be missed, and Kansas City drinkers will be able to pick up a limited number of bottles or get it on draft.
“We’ve got some label approval done,” Schaffter says, “and we’re just finishing up some agreements.”
There’s no time like the present.