Banana is what polite people would call an interesting quality in a beer. But with the Nebraska Brewing Co.’s EOS Hefeweizen, it works. It’s what the Papillion brewpub’s owners Paul and Kim Kavulak were drinking, so I thought it best to follow suit. The EOS was light with a clean flavor, and there it was at the end, the suggestion of banana. Creativity and diversity is the mantra of this three-year-old brewery that has been turning heads of late in the craft brewery industry. Nebraska Brewing Co., located at South Pointe in Papillion, distributes its lagers and ales in 10 states: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Oregon and North Carolina. It just inked a distributing contract to deliver beer to markets in California and Pittsburgh. Those areas will start receiving shipments March 9, a year after distributions to the East Coast began. The brewery is putting out a reserve series of barrel-aged beer about once a month, and sells seven beers plus one experimental concoction on any given night. All the beers on tap, including the EOS, are well decorated with awards from U.S. and world beer championships. Paul Kavulak credits the brewery’s pilot system, which has the team constantly experimenting. They go through as many as 30 brews a year, and only eight make it to the tap as a seasonal. “The difference is if you experiment, if you push beyond what you know,” says Kavulak about making superior beer. “I think if we didn’t have the pilot system we’d be an average brewery.” Kavulak and head brewer Tyson Arp started as homebrewers with a burgeoning hobby. The Kavulaks said Sunday was beer day in their household. Paul says he had an epiphany moment with the Cardinal Pale Ale, which is on the menu. “I came home from work. I was still in my suit. I was so angry, I picked up all the hops and was either going to throw them away or throw them in (the fermenting beer).” He threw them in. Several weeks later, he went down to check the beer “to see how bad it was.” He continues, “I opened it and smelled it and thought ‘this is better than something I could buy.’” That was the trajectory that put Paul and wife Kim elbow-deep in the diverse world of craft beer. “The cool thing about the craft beer industry is that people can say ‘Oh, I like Fat Tire, maybe I’ll try something else,’” Kim says. “They won’t like everything, but they’ll find something.” The couple opened Nebraska Brewing Co. at South Pointe in 2007 (on the eve of the economic meltdown), serving good pub food to the south Omaha market. Nebraska Brewing Co. is available at a few locations around town, including the Crescent Moon and Beertopia, Brass Monkey, Brix, the Foundation, the Library, CRAVE, the Grey Plume, and also the Brick Top and Yia Yia’s in Lincoln. The reserve series, including the intriguing Melange a Trois, which is aged in a chardonnay oak barrel, sells for $20 in Omaha and up to $45 in New York (thanks to high demand). Paul says they’d like the prices to hover around $20, but retailers can sell for more. “We don’t bottle in six-packs,” explains Paul. “We don’t exist in the cheap six-pack market.” And I, for one, am glad. Nebraska Brewing Co., located at 72nd Street and Hwy 370, is open Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight and Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Visit nebraskabrewingco.com or call 934.7100 for more informatio n.


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