When Colony KC opened as a coffeehouse and taproom in May 2016, owners Drew Cobb and Zach Henderson had no plans for a brewery. But as bartender and barista Rodney Beagle built a following for his homebrewed beers, they decided to launch a nanobrewery and enlisted Beagle as head brewer. Since September 2017, Colony has steadily released a new beer on tap each week.

Tell us about your brewing background. I started homebrewing four-and-a-half years ago while working at Big Rip Brewing Co. Before then, I was a fanboy of craft beer. I borrowed [Big Rip co-owner] Kipp Feldt’s homebrewing equipment; gradually, I replaced his equipment with my own. I won multiple medals in homebrewing competitions within eight months, including a gold medal and best of show at Picnique Belgique for my Annabelle Peppercorn, a rye whiskey-smoked peppercorn saison, and a silver medal for Royal Gose. I was also a consultant at Calibration Brewery.

How did you transition from homebrewing to professional brewing? I built up enough equipment to practice making five to seven batches at a time, and trained myself to schedule batches. I also learned from Big Rip’s system and scheduling approach. Releasing one new beer weekly keeps us relevant with fresh, new beers as we push the envelope with flavors and ideas. I find inspiration in different places, such as food flavor combinations and cocktails.

What’s your biggest challenge as a nanobrewery? Scheduling. I brew on a one-and-a-half-barrel system with a 12-barrel fermentation capacity. I make double- or triple-batches of a beer over 10- to 15-hour brew days. Volunteers from the Missouri Mashers homebrew group have been phenomenal help. The best way to open a brewery is to be prepared to hit the ground running.

How are your beers different from other craft options? I have an arsenal of 100 recipes. I started writing recipes for fun, and brewed half of them. Homebrewing fired something in me to create. I consider myself an artist: While some create with paint and palette, my medium is beer. I manipulate physical objects into a palatable drink, and love to make a radical idea into a reality. Royal Gose and Cream Ale are two of my many homebrew recipes I’ve brewed for Colony KC. I brew on a small scale and the beers sell well – it’s a good problem to have. I try to keep a sour, a hoppy ale and a seasonal beer on tap.

What are some upcoming Colony beers? I’m making a Rainbow Road series of sherbet-influenced Berliner weisse beers inspired by Mario Kart. Made with fruit and lactose, the flavors will include raspberry, lime, orange and rainbow sherbet. Look for a winter warmer aged in J. Rieger & Co. whiskey barrels, plus Cinco Wheat Ale, inspired by the flavors of guacamole, in early spring.

Colony KC, 312 N. Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri, 816.800.4699, colonykc.com

Writer Pete Dulin is the author of Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail, and Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries Across Central Kansas and Missouri.

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