Wednesday, August 20, 2014

GNBF Interview with Paul & Kim Kavulak

We recently sat down with Paul & Kim Kavulak, co-owners of Nebraska Brewing Co. and co-producers of the Great Nebraska Beer Fest (GNBF), to talk about this year’s event. We wanted to find out more about the planning, history, and some of the highlights people can expect at the 6th annual event coming up on Saturday, August 23rd.

>>> For those that are new to the scene, what is the “Great Nebraska Beer Fest” and how did it come to be?

Paul:  The festival is a spotlight on Nebraska-based and American craft beer. We seek to promote growth of the overall craft beer community as well as provide an educational experience about beer at this event. Our goal is to appeal to everyone from the craft beer novice to the most educated of beer cicerones and everyone in-between.

Kim:  The event started as a cooperative effort with the Sarpy County Arts Council in 2009. It was originally conceived as a fundraiser of sorts among the seven or eight Nebraska breweries that were part of the first ever event. In a way we were going into uncharted waters as there was limited to no support from some of the other members of the Nebraska State Brewers Guild. That has changed over time and this event is now the biggest single contributor to the Guild each year. In the past, a portion of the festival proceeds have gone to benefit the Histiocytosis Foundation. In 2014, a portion will go to benefit the Leukemia/Lymphoma Foundation.

>>> Can you give us a brief history of the GNBF festival and talk about its growth over its past six years?

Kim:  The first event was held in 2009 on Main Street in Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion. There were about 25 participating breweries and around 100 beers to sample from that year. The event has continued to grow every year since. The 2010 festival was also held on Main Street but in 2011, we realized we had outgrown the original festival site and moved to the Dick’s Sporting Goods parking lot, just north of the Nebraska Brewing Co. Brewpub where we remained until 2013. Over time, we have outgrown the confines of Shadow Lake and in 2014, GNBF will call Werner Park home for the festival’s sixth year of existence. We are thrilled to have nearly 80 breweries and almost 400 beers to choose from at this year’s festival.

Paul:  One way we give thanks each year to all the breweries and distributors who participate is by hosting an Industry Brewers Night the night before the festival. We invite 300-400 people to a private event to thank them for their participation in this festival. In 2014, we have a 98% brewer participation rate meaning actual brewery representatives will be at the festival to talk and share their beer. We have never before had such support by breweries eager to showcase their products.

>>> With the growing number of beer fests that occur annually throughout the nation, what makes GNBF stand out from the crowd?

Paul:  As owners of Nebraska Brewing Co., we have traveled far and wide to beer festivals nationwide and have developed lasting relationships with many breweries from around the country. Over time, we feel we have learned from other festivals as far as the do’s and don’ts and we strive to implement the best elements into this event.  An item that is unique to this festival is that we arrange to have around 30 outside breweries obtain a 30 day temporary state permit in order to be a part of this festival. These are breweries that do not currently distribute or have distribution rights in Nebraska and can only be found at this festival; award winning breweries such as Surly (MN), DESTIHL (IL), New Holland (MI), and one of the currently top rated breweries on BeerAdvocate: Arizona Wilderness.

Kim:  Another of our goals is to make this event a great stage for Nebraska as well to the outside market. We seek out those people who are wondering what kind of beers are available in Nebraska and to develop the beer scene as a whole in the Midwest.

>>> What has the move to Werner Park in 2014 meant to the festival?

Paul:  The Great Nebraska Beer Fest has had tremendous growth over its history. The move to Werner Park in 2014 highlights a really great partnership our team has developed with the Omaha Storm Chasers. The move to Werner Park has meant that we have more resources at our disposal to put on an better event as well as being able to grow this event with more regional and national awareness.

Kim:  I feel the move has showed that there is continued and sustaining growth with the craft beer community and industry. Originally, Nebraska Brewing Co. was approached by the Storm Chasers to develop a unique beer for them that would only be available at Werner Park during games. NBC responded by developing ‘Ale Storm’, a blonde session ale that ended up winning a gold medal in its very first international competition. We have had a great relationship with Werner Park and the Storm Chasers for almost three years now.

>>> What are your thoughts on the long term outlook for GNBF and what is next?

Paul:  Obviously, we would like to continue to grow the festival and continue to raise craft beer awareness in Nebraska and throughout the region. In 2013, the people who bought tickets traveled from some 23 different states to experience GNBF. We would love to see that trend continue. One thing we changed this year it that we actually shortened the festival by one hour. Last year, we found that many attendees had reached their limit and were leaving the festival with nearly an hour remaining. As craft beer advocates, we must be at the forefront for safety and awareness of responsible enjoyment.

Kim:  We want to continue to focus on the overall enjoyment of the festival experience. We realize that people are spending their hard-earned money on this event and we seek to make it rewarding and unique. We hope people will take the time to seek out the informative seminars and enjoy the festival atmosphere overall.

>>> Anything else you would like to add for those still thinking about coming to this year’s event but are unsure?

Paul:  This is a true American craft beer experience and is not a mundane “grocery store” experience where people have already tried everything being offered there. Our goal is to the be one of the best regional beer festivals that people seek out to attend each and every year.

Kim:  Omaha Pipes and Drums will once again kickoff our festival this year. Jone-Z Party Bus will be running continuous shuttles during the event between Werner Park, the NBC Tap Room (108th & Harrison), and the NBC Brewpub (72nd & Hwy 370, Shadow Lake) until 7pm on Saturday. Live bands will again be playing this year’s event includes the return of local favorite “Grand Theft Girlfriend” for the 6th consecutive year. We even have a live festival mascot this year! Our barnyard animal this year is the goat and “Fuggles” the goat will be in attendance and will be making the rounds at this year’s event for pictures and enjoyment. Finally, we have once again partnered with the law firm of Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf, and Lathrop as part of their “Safe Ride Home” program. We hope to see everyone who can make it out to the festival on Saturday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Duffin Knudsen Hop Growers Harvest News

Local hop growers, Duffin Knudsen, have sent along some news about this years harvest. See the release below.
Duffin Knudsen (DK) Hop Growers near Fremont, Nebraska is witnessing an exceptional crop this year.  The farm has over 1,100 hop crowns and more than 4,500 bines producing Nebraska Quality Hops.  The farm’s trellis system is constructed of 22 foot natural cedar poles with thousands of feet of aircraft cable and natural fiber ropes for the hop bines to climb.  Major producing varieties include Magnum, CTZ, Cascade, Nugget, Chinook and many additional test plots.  
DK Hop Growers was created by partners Silas Clarke, Shad Clarke and Nick Petersen.  As most good ideas begin, the commercial hop yard was “beer talked” for a couple of years as they watched their personal homebrew hop yard produce a good product.  “We (brothers Shad and Silas) talked a close friend (Nick Petersen), who provided the farming incite we needed, into the venture of creating a commercial hop yard,” Silas stated.  This year ten Nebraska breweries have committed to purchasing DK’s Hops so far and their wet hops are being shipped as far as San Diego, CA.
Duffin Knudsen Hop Growers, along with all of the commercial members of the Nebraska Hop Growers Association (NHGA), have proved quality bitterness, flavor and aroma can come from the hops growing right here in Nebraska. Beers with DK Hops and many other Nebraska growers will be on tap and in cans/bottles soon.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Empyrean Releases New “Empyrean Universe Variety 12 Pack”

From Empyrean Brewing Co.:

When browsing liquor shops and grocery store aisles, craft beer enthusiasts all ask themselves the same question: “Which beer should I purchase?” With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose just one beer to bring home and enjoy.

To aid in overcoming this somewhat agreeable dilemma, Empyrean Bre wing Co. is offering a solution with the release of their Empyrean Universe variety 12 pack. Beginning today, craft beer geeks in select markets can purchase a mixed pack of twelve 12-ounce beers featuring both classic Empyrean styles as well as their limited, barrel aged and other small batch beers brewed under the Carpe Brewem label.

“We like to mix it up,” said Empyrean Brewing Co.’s Head Brewer, Rich Chapin. “This variety pack is a celebration of experimentation with beer styles, ingredients and brewing techniques. It’s perfect for the craft beer drinker who wants to bring home something special, but can’t decide on just one.”

Whether it’s a long-time favorite or a beer that hasn’t been tried before, the Empyrean Universe Variety 12 Pack offers what beer enthusiasts love: choice. Look for it in Nebraska markets as early as today, with additional states to follow.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

"Attack Of The 50 Ft. Brunette" coming to GNBF


From their press release----

Nebraska Brewing Company & New Holland Brewing Announce Collaboration for The 2014 Great Nebraska Beer Fest

(Papillion, NE) – Nebraska Brewing Company is thrilled to announce their first ever barrel- aged collaborative effort with New Holland Brewing out of Holland, Michigan. As part of New Holland’s first attendance at this year’s Great Nebraska Beer Fest, a New Holland owner, Fred Bueltmann contacted Nebraska Brewing Company owner and founder Paul Kavulak and suggested a collaboration centering around the use of barrels from within New Holland’s Artisan Spirits division. This collaboration will be unveiled for the first time on August 23, the date of the 6th Annual Great Nebraska Beer Fest. An exchange of beers and spirits was immediate and found a wonderful marriage between one of Nebraska Brewing Company’s Imperial Brown Ales and barrels used to age New Holland’s Zeppelin Bend Whiskey.

The beer brewed by Nebraska Brewing Company is a much larger version of its Brunette Nut Brown Ale, which drives it into the Imperial Brown Ale style. The aptly named "Attack of the 50 Foot Brunette" plays to the massive stature of what is usually a very sessionable Brown Ale. The barrels from New Holland are unique in that these heavy char new American oak barrels were used to age the Artisan Spirits’ Zeppelin Bend Straight Malt Whiskey. Notes of vanilla and clove remain from the slightly caramelized spirit, which work beautifully when paired with the correct beer.

Paul Kavulak, President of Nebraska Brewing Company stated: “We were thrilled Fred reached out to propose a collaboration to mark their first ever attendance at this year’s Great Nebraska Beer Fest!” Kavulak added, “We have always loved New Holland's beers and what Fred and his team are doing. To be offered the chance to work together on a barrel aged beer was perfect for us. We’re beyond excited to marry up our barrel aging program with their Artisan Spirits in a way that will produce something truly creative and flavorful." Fred Bueltmann, added: “We love sharing beers and ideas with like-‐‐minded creative people." Bueltmann, aka "The Beervangelist" continued, “This idea is born from a long standing relationship and mutual admiration between our companies. It’s a fun celebration of flavor, camaraderie, brewing and distilling. We look forward to tasting it and meeting everyone we can in the great state of Nebraska."

Unique among other area beer festivals, The Great Nebraska Beer Fest highlights only American Craft Beer and the breweries that create them. With attendees from over 30 States and over 100 American Craft Breweries from around the United States, this festival has become THE beer fest to attend in the area and has gained notoriety as one of the best Craft Beer Fests in the region. Being held this year for the first time in Papillion’s Werner Park, the date for the event is Saturday August 23rd and tickets can be purchased online at, at Nebraska Brewing Company’s Brewpub or Taproom and at Werner Park.

Friday, August 15, 2014

New Holland Coming to Nebraska

From their press release...


New Holland Brewing Co. | August 15, 2014

Holland, Michigan-based craft brewery and artisan distiller, New Holland Brewing Co. has announced plans to distribute their products to four new markets across the great plains and into the Rocky Mountains beginning mid-August. Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa will soon be a part of the brewery’s now 24-state territory for beer and 17-state territory for spirits, including Washington D.C. To celebrate, New Holland will be hosting a handful of events in each state in August and September to kick off their launch in Central U.S.

“We are inspired by our mission to contribute flavorful choices to the passionate and thirsty craft drinkers,” stated Fred Bueltmann, VP of Brand and Lifestyle.  “We feel connected to these markets for so many reasons, and have heard the call of demand for our beers and spirits. It’s clear there is a strong and growing craft scene, with passionate and dedicated people moving it forward”

New Holland has tapped several respected companies as their distributors for the new territories. CR Goodman in Colorado, Quality Brands of Omaha and Double Eagle in Lincoln, Nebraska, Worldwide Wine and Spirits in Kansas, and Glazer’s of Iowa. “It is amazing to see the remarkable level of service in the craft distribution game,” stated Bueltmann.  “We have come a long way as an industry and we are impressed and excited to work with our new partners.”

New Holland will release their Year Round series of craft beer (Mad Hatter IPA, Sundog Amber Ale, Full Circle Kolsh, Monkey King Saison, The Poet Oatmeal Stout and Dragon’s Milk Barrel-Aged Stout) and many of their spirits (Knickerbocker Gin, Hatter Royale Hopped Whiskey and Clockwork Orange Liqueur), as well as several seasonal offerings, with their popular but allocated Beer Barrel Bourbon to follow as production allows. Additionally, the New Holland and Carhartt collaboration brew – The Carhartt Woodsman – will be launched in mid-September.

“As Midwesterners, we have great affinity for the lifestyle of the Great Plains and the Rockies. We embrace the outdoors, craftsmanship and taking time to linger over flavors and conversation. We’re looking forward to sharing New Holland’s Stop and Taste way of life.”

Check out the full itinerary for New Holland’s launch HERE. And stay posted as additional events are added in September for Iowa and Kansas. Some highlights of the launch include:

August Public Events:


8/20:  New Holland Launch Party @ Star Bar - Time: 6-8  pm
2137 Larimer St, Denver

8/21: New Holland Launch Party @ Freshcraft – Time: 8-10 pm
1530 Blake St, Denver


8/21: New Holland Launches Nebraska with Benson Beer District Pub Crawl (Omaha, NE). Enjoy fresh New Holland beers, and delicious cocktails and meet the gang from New Holland.

5:30 – 7 pm -  1912 Benson
7 – 8:30 pm – Krug Park
8:30  - 10 pm – Jakes Cigars and Spirits
10 – 11:30 pm – Beercade

8/23 – Great Nebraska Beer Festival
New Holland beers are being poured at the GNBF and Fred, aka “The Beervangelist” will present a Beer and Food pairing at 2:30 pm within the festival grounds where he will also be selling copies of his book, “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy.”  Nebraska Brewing will also be debuting “Attack of the 50-foot Brunette” at the GNBF, a collaborative brew aged in New Holland whiskey barrels.


About New Holland Brewing Co.
New Holland Brewing Company’s deep roots in the craft industry go back to 1997. Our role as an integral member of the artisan approach is something we take seriously, yet engage lightheartedly.  We believe the art of craft lives in fostering rich experiences for our customers, through creating authentic beer, spirits and food while providing great service. Recognized for our creativity and artistry, our mission to improve the lives of craft consumers everywhere is seen in our diverse, balanced collection of beer and spirits.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Deschutes Brewery 'Woody' visits Nebraska

Brewery reps from Deschutes Brewery out of Bend, OR are currently in our state and will be making several appearances throughout the area with their iconic barrel-on-wheels, Woody, through this coming Saturday. Samples of some of their brews and brewery merchandise can be found at various stops along the way.

Here's a schedule of their stops during their current visit:

Tuesday, August 5th

Wednesday, August 6th

Thursday, August 7th

Friday, August 8th

Saturday, August 9th


For more details about 'Woody' and where he currently is, check out his Twitter feed

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nebraska Community Blood Bank Partners with Lazlo’s for Pint for Pint

From Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill:

(Lincoln, NE) – Kick up your feet and enjoy a cold one on us! Doesn’t that sound nice? Step up to give a pint of blood in August and enjoy a FREE pint on us! 
Nebraska Community Blood Bank is teaming up with Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill for our month-long August campaign Pint for Pint. All donors who present to give blood with Nebraska Community Blood Bank will receive a gift card for a FREE pint, valid on either an Empyrean draft beer or non-alcoholic beverage of choice at any Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill or Fireworks Restaurant location. 
Those who present to donate at a blood drive or donor center are eligible to participate in our Pint for Pint campaign which kicks off on August 1.
What:  Pint for Pint Campaign
When: August 1 – 31, 2014
Where: All Nebraska Community Blood Bank donor centers and community-sponsored blood drives
Why: Because patients in our local hospitals depend on Nebraska Community Blood Bank to be there with the right blood type they need to survive. And only volunteer blood donors can help.
All types are needed—especially O negative (O-) and O positive (O+). 
To make an appointment, call 1-877-486-9414 or visit