Several years ago, Matt Moore and Chancie Adams couldn’t find good craft beer on tap in south Kansas City. Their solution? They opened Martin City Brewing Company (MCBC), a pub devoted to superb regional and national craft beer on tap and chef-driven food.
“If I wanted good food and beer at the time, I had to go to Waldo or downtown,” Moore says. “Opening a brewery in Martin City made perfect sense to me, but I had 1,000 people say it was the dumbest idea in the world.”
Clearly, it wasn’t. Moore and Adams were among a new wave of entrepreneurs that have built startup breweries in Kansas City as local demand for craft beer has quickly grown. Less than three years later, the business partners opened their own brewery in February 2014 next door to the original pub. The brewery includes an adjacent wood-fired pizza restaurant and taproom.
The pub opened first because the building was available and could generate cash flow for the eventual brewery. Also, the pub location didn’t have enough space for a full-scale brewery.
Head brewer Nick Vaughn, educated as a chemical engineer and a former owner of a startup brewery in Liberty, was instrumental in the brewery’s launch.
“We couldn’t have done it without Nick,” Moore says. “He was involved in the construction process and consulted on the site, equipment, scale, configuration, and systems.”
Today, both the pub and pizza parlor/taproom draw regulars seven days a week. Often, the businesses are packed during the dinner rush and on weekends, especially if live entertainment performs.
Craft beer remains the primary draw. Martin City Brewing has continued to grow and prosper as the 15-barrel brewhouse produces distinctive beers. MCBC signed a distribution deal in November 2014 with Central States Beverage. Several of MCBC’s beers, such as the Belgian Blonde and Belgian Abbey, are available throughout the greater Kansas City metro and Johnson County bars and restaurants.
Also, MCBC has developed a barrel-aging program to produce wild and sour ales as well as beers aged in brandy, Pinot and Chardonnay barrels. Some of their popular offerings include Brandy Barrel Aged Tripel, Colour Out Of Space, a Belgian Black Ale fermented and aged in barrels with Brett yeast, De Wit, a Belgian-style witbier, and Hard Way IPA. Recently, the brewery began bottling several of its high-end, aged beers including Dream Quest, a Golden Ale fermented and aged in Chardonnay barrels with Brett yeast.
While the young brewery has grown sophisticated with the depth and range of its offerings, it continues to focus on the basics of delivering good beer, food and service to its customers. It’s a popular local hangout for residents near south Kansas City and a worthwhile destination for others farther away. Cold craft beer, wood-fired pizza and hearty pub fare await in Martin City just across the railroad tracks.
Martin City Brewing Company, 500 E. 135th St., Kansas City I martincitybrewingcompany.com
Photos by Pete Dulin. Graphics courtesy of Martin City Brewing Company.