10 things we love about Kinkaider Brewing Company in Broken Bow, Nebraska

10 things we love about Kinkaider Brewing Company in Broken Bow, Nebraska

Central Nebraska’s Kinkaider Brewing Company is quickly becoming one of the most popular destination craft breweries in the Midwest. Located at the edge of the rolling Sandhills in Broken Bow, Nebraska, Kinkaider was founded by four small-town Nebraskans, three of whom we had a the pleasure of meeting recently.

We visited Kinkaider on an agribusiness progressive meal tour during the Plains Safaris Conference and quickly found there are lots of things to love about this brewery.

Here are just 10 of the things we love most.

1. The name

The name Kinkaider comes from a 1904 amendment to the Homestead Act. Moses Kinkaid was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Nebraska and sponsor of the Kincaid Act, which allowed homesteaders to claim up to 640 acres of government land in western Nebraska.

Kinkaider Brewing Company in Broken Bow, Nebraska, got its name from the Kinkaider Act of 1904. Kinkaiders were those who stood in line to claim government land in Nebraska.

Kinkaider Brewing Company in Broken Bow, Nebraska, got its name from the Kinkaider Act of 1904. Kinkaiders were those who stood in line to claim government land in Nebraska.

Homesteaders who gathered in Broken Bow to claim property in the 37 counties in the general area of the Nebraska Sandhills were called Kincaiders. We love that touch of local history.

2. The brewmaster

Former Thedford, Nebraska business owner Dan Hodges had just retired and purchased a new Harley Davidson motorcycle when local grocery store owner Cody Schmick approached him about a partnership to build a brewery.

“I knew Dan had been a part of a home brew club for years and made good beer,” Schmick said. “I wrote out this detailed business plan and shared it with Dan and asked him to think about (coming out of retirement) to become a brewmaster.”

Dan didn’t need time to think about it. He immediately said, “I’m in.”

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

Bremaster Dan.

The original Kinkaider brewmaster is still crafting beers there and his wife, Alice, is also involved in the business. He is so passionate about his second career, he even had the company logo and the chemical composition of hops tattooed on his forearm.

3. The water

On our tour of the brewery, Cody reminded us that water is the main ingredient in beer.

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

The Sandhills of Nebraska filter water naturally for the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of Kinkaider Brewing’s water.

Since the brewery sits right on the Ogallala aquifer, it made sense to drill a well and use this incredible water source that is naturally filtered by sand, silt, clay and gravel. You can taste the difference.

4. The beer

With rotating brews on 320 taps across Nebraska, Kinkaider beer is quickly becoming an area favorite and we know why.

Kegs of Kinkaider beer.

Kegs of Kinkaider beer.

Apparently, any man willing to tattoo hops on his arm knows how to make good beer. Dan the Wiser, as he is sometimes called, and the other brewers have created more than 40 flavorful beers. The most popular seller is the Devil’s Gap Jalapeño Ale about which celebrity chef Michael Symon said, “With a hamburger, this is about as perfect of a beer as I can think of,” and went on to say it is a “good after you’ve finished mowing your lawn beer.” Frame the Butcher IPA and the seasonal brews are also favorites.

5. The stories

Each of the beers has a name with a unique story behind it. Having come from the grocery business, Schmick said he knew that signage had to tell the story behind each name.

Kinkaider Brewing company taproom, Broken Bow, Nebraska

The taproom at Kinkaider shows recognizes their “Pioneer Club” who helped start the business along with the different types of beer they offer.

So far, all of the label designs have been created by Nebraska artists.

Devil's Gap from Kinkaider Brewing Co. in Broken Bow, Nebraska.

Devil’s Gap six-pack bottom from Kinkaider Brewing Co. in Broken Bow, Nebraska.

The stories behind the beers’ names are included on the bottom of the six-pack packaging. One of my favorites, Frame the Butcher IPA, was named after Solomon Butcher. Butcher failed as a farmer, salesman, teacher and postmaster before taking pictures of more than 1,000 sod houses across Nebraska. He is now known as the photographer of the plains and in Custer County, a framed Butcher is never more than a stone’s throw away.

6. The chef

Chef Robert Knobbe has only been on the job a few months, but his delectable small plates and entrees are already giving the Broken Bow location a boost.

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

Bacon wrapped asparagus with a beer sample.

Schmick said finding the right chef in the middle of rural Nebraska was not easy. He had all but exhausted his online search for a new chef last fall when he got a message from Knobbe.

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

Chef Robert Knobbe of Kinkaider Brewing made some amazing appetizers for us to enjoy.

Schmick said he invited Knobbe to Broken Bow for an in-person interview and they talked for three hours at their first meeting. Knobbe was hired on the spot.

A West Point, Nebraska, native and self-taught chef, Knobbe learned to cook in kitchens in Nebraska and South Dakota and said he ordered cooking text books online to learn his trade. His hard work has paid off, as his food is some of the best we’ve tasted anywhere in Nebraska.

7. The food

Each of the four beers we tasted on our tour was well paired with small plates, created by Chef Robert. Champion, a crisp summer beer, was well paired with Chef Robert’s colossal shrimp and jalapeno mango chutney with puréed beet.  It was incredible. As was the bacon wrapped asparagus and blue cheese appetizer, and the coffee crusted sirloin tips.

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

A sample of Kinkaider beer sits among plates of the delicious duck breast appetizer we enjoyed during our tasting.

And the roasted duck with a citrus sauce and arugula – just divine.

 8. The location

Just on the outskirts of town, the brewery is situated at the edge of the Nebraska Sandhills near Broken Bow (pop. 3,500).  It is several hours away from the hustle and bustle of the state’s major cities to the east. And we like that.

The view of the rolling hills from inside the brewery is just amazing.

The view of the rolling hills from inside the brewery is just amazing.

9. The facility

Before it was a brewery, the main building was a garage. With  the help of locals who pitched in financially to fund the startup, it is now a well-renovated establishment that is as inviting to local farmers and ranchers as it is to bikers and travelers just passing through.

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

Kegs wait to be cleaned and filled at Kinkaider Brewing.

There are outdoor spaces to eat and drink or listen to one of the live bands the brewery hosts during warm months. Even during the cold Nebraska winters, the rolling hills provide an incredible backdrop for unwinding and making memories with old and new friends.

10. The people

Kinkaider Brewing, Broken Bow, Nebraska

Three of the four owners of Kinkaider: Cody Schmick, Dan Hodges, and Barry Fox. (Not pictured: Nate Bell)

We met three of the four owners the day we were there (the exception being Nate Bell). And while there are lots of things to love about Kinkaider Brewing Co., what we enjoyed most were the people. Barry Fox’s desire to build a destination brewery. Cody Schmick’s passion for growing a small-town business in his home state. And Dan Hodges’ pride in his craft. We loved the entrepreneurial spirits of four Nebraska boys who had a vision of a place where they could work hard, serve others, make and share  good no, great beer.

As proud Nebraskans ourselves, we’ll always drink to that.


Kinkaider Brewing Co. also has a tap room in Grand Island, Nebraska, and will open one in the Haymarket in Lincoln soon. Have you tried Kinkaider beer? Let us know your favorite – we’d love to hear from you.

Pin for later

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Sidewalk Cafes

The Joy of Sidewalk Cafes

I have always loved travel. As a Spanish teacher, I thought it important to share my love of travel with my students. So, together with a German teacher colleague from across the hall who shared that belief, we planned a European tour for our students. It was hugely successful, and we resolved to do it again. Over the course of eight years, we actually wound up leading four school-sponsored European student tours together.

Outside the palace in Monaco on my fourth guided tour with students.

Outside the palace in Monaco on my fourth guided tour with students from the school where I taught Spanish.

I can’t say enough about the tours’ educational value for our students. The trips opened eyes, expanded world views, taught history and art appreciation, showed incredible sights, and provided much fun for all participants. But for me, personally, a critical element was missing.

On each of those trips, we’d walk past sidewalk cafes and I’d see people sitting in the sun on a beautiful day enjoying foods of their choice and some of the best beers and wines the world has to offer. I, however, was with other people’s teenage children on a tour, and our meals were planned, usually in the back corner of some restaurant’s basement. While the food was good, the menus were set, and it wasn’t appropriate for me, a teacher/school administrator leading students on a school trip to sample the beers or wine.

On our trip to Europe last summer, Ann and I went alone with no students by our side. This opened up a world of freedom I’d only dreamed about on those trips with the kids. I eagerly anticipated wandering the streets, looking for that perfect spot in the shade to have a wonderful meal.

We found just such a spot our first full day in Rome. We sat down and savored an amazing pasta lunch and sipped a pitcher of the house wine –some of the best wine we’ve ever had — in a meal that lasted a blissful two or three hours. (Let me pause a moment to say that in Italy, France, and Spain the wine is plentiful, wonderful, and cheap. Seriously, I’ve seen bottles of decent wine for less than the cost of a bottle of water.) It was so nice to have the freedom from student travel to pause where we wanted for the time we wanted to order from a menu and eat and drink what we wanted. Wine. Caprese. Foot-long sausages. You get the idea.

We make caprese salad all the time at home, but it tastes even better eaten with fresh mozzarella at a sidewalk cafe in the heart of Rome.

We loved the food in Spain, including this foot-long sausage rolled to perfection.

A day or so later, we hopped aboard the Celebrity Equinox and cruised the Mediterranean for a week. We disembarked in Barcelona, and checked in to our hotel. After settling in, we decided we’d like a bite for lunch so headed up the block and found another sidewalk cafe. We sat, sipped wine and beer, and indulged in a delicious meal of Spanish delicacies. We liked the spot enough that we went back for dinner that night, only we ate inside this time to better escape the Spanish heat. Once there, sitting among a multitude of delicious looking Spanish hams hanging over the bar, it hit us: we’d eaten in this place with students on our school-sponsored tour two years before.

Who could forget these hams?

Who could forget these hams?

Could it be true? Yes! The restrooms were in the basement as I remembered, and I even saw our downstairs table in the back corner next to them. Suddenly, my beer tasted a little better and the tapas we’d selected were a little more rich. And then karma served up the most delicious entree, yet: A tour of high school students walked in (and down the stairs). Glory day! I was so excited that I was able to enjoy a meal of my choosing without worrying about kiddos that Ann took a video of me to commemorate the occasion.

Through my schadenfreude, I did feel a little sorry for the adult sponsors, and tried (unsuccessfully) to express my sympathy to them.

Simply put, sidewalk cafes in Europe are all they are cracked up to be. Great food, good drinks, and a relaxing atmosphere where you aren’t pushed through your meal so the restaurant can seat the next group. I know that our future European trips will include slow, relaxing meals in sidewalk cafes–and frankly, I can’t wait.

[well]This blog post is part of a series about the “20 Things We’ll Remember Most About Our Summer Vacation.” Up next: Our Look at the Leaning Tower. [/well]