Friends Nate Bell and Dan Hodges needed a little nudge to make their dream a reality. The pair had been kicking around the idea of opening a brewery for years, but the perceived hardships stayed their hand.
“It was one of those things home brewers always think about, but rarely pull the trigger on,” Nate said. “We often think we don’t have the time, the money or the understanding to make it work. For me, it was mostly the money, I just didn’t think we could do it and make money; I am generally pretty risk adverse.”
The original Kinkaider group of Barry Fox, Cody Schmick, Dan Hodges and Nate Bell on the day their new A.B.E. equipment arrived.Nate has a tremendous passion for brewing that started 19 years ago when he was a senior in college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. He started home-brewing after he encountered Empyrean, a local craft brewery which was just getting started.
“Brewing offered a creative outlet for me and provided something tangible that was fun to share with friends and family,” Nate said. “In the last 10 years, I opened a home brew store with my uncle, started the Nebraska Beer Blog and through the blog gained invaluable contacts with brewers around the state and across the country.”
The outside nudge
Still, the idea of starting a brewery, which came to be called Kinkaider, was a scary proposition. However, Nate’s friend Cody Schmick wouldn’t abandon the idea of a brewery in Broken Bow, Nebraska.
“Roughly a year ago Cody came into my office and proposed opening Kinkaider,” Nate said. “I gave him my typical pessimistic attitude about how much money it would take. He didn’t believe me and pushed it, so we started looking at spaces so I could prove my point.”
It wasn’t long before Nate moved from looking at possible locations for their brewery, to pricing equipment.
“Being involved in the craft beer community in Nebraska, I had heard about American Beer Equipment from several people,” Nate said. “We believe in Nebraska. We are all about being local and working with people that are only three hours away really appealed to us if we had questions or concerns. After going over the quotes, and getting personal site visits from the guys at A.B.E. on two different occasions, they really proved to us what we could expect if we chose them; add in the fact that the prices were competitive made A.B.E. and easy choice.”
To make matters worse for Nate’s pessimism, he even found a great building. Barry Fox, a local friend, owned some land outside of town and had recently built a building for his wife’s pumpkin patch business, which operated only in October. The two sides were quickly able to hammer out a deal.
Becoming a reality
Before the friends knew it, walls were going up, a Kinkaider website and social media campaigns had started, but it never hit home that their brewery was really happening until A.B.E.’s equipment arrived.
“Getting the brewhouse was like seeing a dream you have had forever, but never thought in a million years could become reality, actually come true before your eyes,” Nate said. “I couldn’t wait to jump on the forklift, which I had never operated before, and unload that beautiful stainless steel equipment. I had a perma-grin!”
What’s in a name?
The name Kinkaider, like everything else about the friend’s brewery, has local roots. Under the Kinkaid Act of 1904, a settler in Nebraska could receive 640 acres of free land after paying a $14 filing fee. Those settlers became known as Kinkaiders. In a unique twist, Cody’s great great great grandfather was a Kinkaider, so choosing the name of the brewery was almost preordained.
Planning for the future
Nate, Cody and Dan are excited for the future of their brewery. It sits on a great location just outside of Broken Bow, Nebraska, offering a breathtaking view of the Sandhills. They have 12 beverages on tap, from their own Kolsch and fan favorite Jalapeno beers, to rotating guest offerings from other breweries and meaderies.
The breweries’ success is also be the communities’ success, as they use leftover grains to feed local livestock and use their runoff water to irrigate crops. They also have live music and events at the brewery, and enjoy showing off their A.B.E. equipment and educating the public on how beer is made.
“I consider the folks at A.B.E. as friends, and that isn’t always the case in a business relationship,” Nate said. “The decision to go with them was really a no-brainer and they have not disappointed us.”