A Brewer’s perspective
Talk to any brewer and they’ll shoot straight with you about their equipment, what they like, and what improvements they would like to see.
Randy Strange has been the head brewer at Crane Brewing for the last year and before that he shared duties with Crane’s previous head brewer, Steve Hood. So from the beginning, Randy has been working on a 15-BBL, 2-vessel auto brewhouse from American Beer Equipment.
“I like the size of our A.B.E. brewhouse,” Randy said. “The 15 bbl size lets you still be connected with everything and still see where everything’s going. It’s just hands on enough where you don’t have to work too hard to get a good product.”
Crane has quickly made a name for themselves in the Kansas City beer scene with their variety of farmhouse ales, weiss’ and some quirky off-beat offerings like their Beet Weiss. So control over the brewing process is key, Strange said.
“It is a solid system for efficiency,” Strange said, “although I would like to have a different valve from the mash lauter tun to the grant that would act as a gate valve and give me more control.”
“Overall I am very happy with our A.B.E. equipment and the service we get,” he added. “You guys have been very responsive. Recently we had your guys come out and fix an air leak on the keg washer. The next day, we had a solenoid go out and an A.B.E. tech helped me troubleshoot the issue over the phone, and we got a replacement part the next day.”
Getting to know Randy
Brewing was not Randy first passion in life. His degree is in Geology and it wasn’t until he started working at Boulevard that he was bitten by the beer bug.
“They told me I needed some experience, so I decided I needed to go to school for brewing,” Randy said. “I worked on their bottling line for a year, and got to learn about all grain brewing on my own smaller system.”
Boulevard’s extensive barrel-aging program got Randy interested in the technique. He also started home brewing and became a member of a local home brew club, and that’s where he met Crane co-founder Michael Crane.
“He asked me how many barrels I could get and right away I knew he was serious about brewing,” Randy said. “We brewed some batches together and started talking about opening a brewery. Michael had some commercial space, so we merged our plans with Chris, Aaron and Steve. Steve Hood was the original head brewer, but I was in on the process and had a role in recipe creation. Steve had some brewing experience from interning at Boulevard, but we all learned how to do it full time together on our A.B.E. system.”
Crane has seen tremendous growth since their launch in 2014, and with Randy at the brewing helm, they have plans for more growth and more great and funky beers.
“We have a Cranberry Ginger Berliner Weisse and a series of holiday sours out now that are nice,” Randy said. “We also recently opened our official tap room and that has been a tremendous success. We’ve expanded distribution to Nebraska, Oklahoma and have a pretty good presence in St. Louis. We’re continuing to grow, and look forward to growing with A.B.E.”