In early May, Nimble Brewing quietly opened its alleyway door for business in the East Crossroads amid the COVID-19 pandemic, initially offering only curbside pickup for orders placed online. As of this past weekend, though, Nimble's taproom is open for business.
Owners Kevin and Jodie Gittemeier operate the brewery with a single-barrel brew system. The small production scale is intentional to remain “nimble” and flexible as Kevin produces beer one barrel at a time. For now, the goal is simply to make enough money to pay rent on the space. Respectively, the owners have full-time jobs as an accountant and teacher; they don’t rely on the business income, especially as the city recovers during a pandemic.
Kevin, who first began brewing 20 years ago in Lawrence, Kansas, says with a laugh, “I began homebrewing because I like drinking beer.”
Over the past two decades, he’s encountered many styles of beer, and challenged himself to figure out how to make New England IPAs, kettle sours and other beers. “I’ve obsessed over making my own version,” he says. “Brewing is a perfect blend of science and art. I’m not a super technical brewer; I do it more by feel. It’s kind of like being a chef or artist. You follow basic principles, but then put your own spin on it.”
Sizeable production of flagship beer styles is not in the plan; rather, Kevin intends to brew a rotation of styles in small batches. Since opening, Nimble Brewing’s IPAs, such as double dry-hopped Kid A NEIPA and Visions/Louise, have flown out the door due to popular demand for that style. Using an array of hops, yeasts and adjunct ingredients, Kevin brews IPAs that are more fruit-forward versus the dank, piney profile that some drinkers savor. Lately, he actually favors drinking and brewing kettle sour styles, such as Gose, Berliner Weiss and fruited sours like Lush sour ale with blackberries, as well as Belgian farmhouse ales.
“Drinkability is the focus,” he says. “I prefer more subtle, lighter flavors. Belgian farmhouse ales are yeast-driven. They lend themselves well to creativity and experimentation. People love Boulevard’s Tank 7. It’s such a great style, but breweries aren’t putting as many Saisons out there.”
Nimble Brewing’s taproom will not only sell its beer on tap, but also other craft beers, wine and cocktails. “It takes the pressure off me to make beer at 5am before I go to my day job,” Kevin says. “Eventually, we’ll make some cocktails with the sour beers. Some people are having a hard time wrapping their head around a taproom having other options besides beer to drink.”
The Gittemeiers chose the East Crossroads location after searching for a spot in Kansas City, Kansas, and elsewhere over many years, but ultimately the Crossroads location won them over. “Breweries in the Crossroads don’t have the food requirement to sell beer by law,” Kevin says. “We didn’t want a food operation along with opening a brewery. Also, the lease rates are comparable to everywhere else we were looking. We decided that we might as well go somewhere with other breweries.”
To that end, Nimble Brewing is now neighbors in Brewers Alley with Double Shift Brewing and Border Brewing, and close by to Torn Label, Casual Animal, City Barrel and Brewery Emperial.
Nimble Brewing, 1735 Oak St., Crossroads Arts District, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.787.1822, nimblebrewing.com