Beers with Jim Jeffryes from Kannah Creek Brewing

My first experience with Kannah Creek Brewing wasn’t a good one. I had a pint at Union Barrelhouse and left my comments on Untappd. To my surprise, they left a comment apologizing for my experience. That led to an email conversation that led to us reviewing some of their beers. When I sat down to review their beers, my mind changed and I was impressed with the flavor. More than anything, I was impressed with their communication skills. So impressed I asked for an interview with their brewmaster, Jim Jeffryes.

Kannah Creek is located in Grand Junction, Colorado. There are a lot of great brewing companies in Colorado. Let’s hear what Jim has to say about their beers and the history of this brewing company. Cheers!

Where did the name come from? Is there an actual Kannah Creek?

Kannah Creek is the name of the main water source for Grand Junction, CO. It is great brewing water.

I LOVE hops. What is your favorite hop?

My favorite hop is Mt. Hood or Centennial. Hoods are complex; Centennials are big and spicy.

What is “The Edge?”

The Edge is our nickname for our new production brewery and restaurant “Edgewater Brewery.” We needed a separate name to comply with licensing and local liquor laws. Edgewater Brewery is situated about 300 yards from the Colorado River. We would have made it closer but the city owns the property adjacent to the river.

You only have a few beers that you bottle. Are you planning to increase that number in the near future?

We want to establish our core brands first but, yes, we will bring other beers to the market. It costs roughly $8,000 to design, print and launch new brands.

You have a LOT of beers on tap. I want to try some of those. Any chance we will see kegs in Arizona in the near future?

We have kegs in Arizona. We distribute with Young’s Market Company. They should be able to tell you where to sit down and taste them. We currently only offer kegs of the beers we bottle, but once we establish our core brands we would like to expand into offering other of our beer brands that are normally only found on tap at the brewpubs. We will also be releasing a very limited run of two styles of beers in bombers this November/December and only in Colorado. The Baltallica, which is a baltic porter and The Demise of Ivan the Terrible, a Russian imperial stout that was aged in our local distillery’s bourbon barrels for a year.

Brewery tours are free. Tell me more about the brewery tour and what I can expect to experience when I take a brewery tour.

The tours are currently lead by our managers on duty. It starts by heading upstairs to the grain platform, where people have a bird’s eye view of the brewhouse. They get to smell, touch and taste a variety of specialty malts we use. They then head over to our packaging storage area (still open to the brewhouse below) to smell a variety of hops that are the most used in our different beers. Then the tour heads back downstairs to the brewhouse floor. People will see our brewhouse, 4 sixty barrel fermentation tanks, about twenty barrels that we are using currently to age different beers (that piece of info is incorrect.  We have about 25 wooden barrels that we are using to age our beer.  Some of these barrels are old bourbon barrels, chardonnay, or tequila), and finally our state of the art bottling line (we have only 1 of 3 in the entire U.S.).

Your beer is award winning. What awards has your beer won?

For the Lands End Amber: Gold Award in 2010 at the World Beer Cup, Silver Medal at GABF in 2012, and Bronze at the Denver International Beer Competition in 2014. Standing Wave Pale Ale: Gold Award in 2008 at the World Beer Cup, Bronze Medal at GABF in 2008.

You guys opened in 2005. What was the first beer you released?

Lands End Amber Ale. In 2005 we only had 5 beers on draft.

Do you ever make a mistake when brewing a beer?

I once screwed up by not turning the correct valves on the brewhouse. It was a small batch but I could not save it. That has not happened since… Live and learn.

There are a LOT of brewing companies out there. How do you stay competitive?

We try to stay very consistent by not pushing beer or compromising with production. We want people to know that when they grab our beer that it will be good.

People talk about a “craft beer bubble.” Do you think there will be one and if so, do you think that will help or hurt the quality of beer currently being produced?

A burst bubble will probably help. Brewers who do not produce quality beer will go out, the ones who stay will get that message and work harder.

Tell me more about Edgewater Brewery.

Edgewater was my original concept. Our trouble was the enormous capital needed. We started Kannah Creek as a trial brewpub to gain the experience needed to procure financing and expertise.

You guys also serve food. What are some of your more popular menu items?

We have two completely different menus between the two locations. At Kannah Creek Brewing Company “The Creek” we offer brick oven pizzas, calzones, pastas, hot sandwiches and fresh salads. Our Artichoke Spinach Dip, Buffalo Rolls, Southwestern Slope Salad, Chicken Bacon Avocado, BBQ Pit, and Frontierman pizzas are all very popular. At Edgewater we make all grilled items, so burgers, brats, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc.

Our Fried Cheese Curds, Homemade Onion Rings, Chili Cheese Dog, Luke Hayes’ The Kickstand (this was a competition we held last year where customers could submit their best build your own idea, Luke Hayes ended up winning and when we updated the menu we put his on it), The Rado and BBQ Bacon burgers, sliders, and Buffalo Chicken Wrap are all very popular.

When you are not drinking Kannah Creek beers, what are you drinking?

I try to stay with Colorado beers, a few California beers. Otherwise, I also like wine and single malt scotch.

If you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what beer would you pick?

I would go with Standing Wave Pale Ale from a small brewery in Colorado.

What do you think the future of craft beer will be like?

The better and more successful production brewers will do well. Small local brewpubs will do well. Variety will increase. Prices will go up.

Have you been to the Great American Beer Festival before?

We have been to all of them except 2005 and 2013.

What’s next for Kannah Creek Brewing Company?

We would like to be a regional brewer… 15,000 barrels per year and embrace some local products into our brewing such as bourbon barrels, local fruit (on a small limited release scale) and also be part of a growing recycle re-use effort for our byproducts.

In all of the interviews I do, I always give the artist the last word. Cheers!

Drink good beer and carry on!

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