Whether you believe in fate or not, it seems that in life there is a greater force guiding us to be where should be. I am not saying that each of us personally don't work hard at making our own destiny, but there is that moment when the stars align and everything seems right in the universe.
For two couples, never in their wildest dreams would they have ever thought that they would end up being the owners of a craft beer brewery in Holdrege, Nebraska. Jason and Kimberly (Kim) Hines grew up in Michigan. Kim in Clarkston and Jason in Bay City. Even though the cities are about 2 hours apart, friends of theirs brought them together during their college years. Mark and Jessica Kraus met while Mark was in the Marines and stationed in Camp Pendleton. When Mark was back from his second deployment, it was time for recruiting duty back in Michigan. Mark told me, "My Battery Gunnery Sergeant had told me in Afghanistan if I didn't ask Jessica to marry me I wasn't very smart and you always listen to your senior enlisted as a young officer." Mark is a smart man and followed through on the advice he was given! Oh and before I forget, Kim is Mark's sister. Kind of important information don't you think?
So the couples have met, but we still have more stars to fall into place. I think one of the hardest things in life is finding a career that you can truly be passionate about and of course make a living at. It is difficult coming out of high school knowing what you truly want to be. Each of us has strengths that help guide us to what we are good at.
For example, Jessica has great communication and marketing skills. Talking with Jessica you can see how energized she gets with meeting with the customers in the brewery. Also Jessica has a great eye for design. She has done a wonderful job with the beer glasses, t-shirts, and other logo products. The logo looks great on the beer glasses! I am not the only one that thinks this because hundreds of the glasses have already been procured by people in the community.
Kim has a degree in Accounting. As we chatted that evening, it was evident that Kim really understands the business side and making sure everything is setup for the opening. From the Point-of-Sale (POS) system to all the financials, Kim has it covered. Oh and the last thing I learned about Kim is her love of Quick Books!
Jason's passion lies in creating things that are of exceptional quality. When talking with Jason, I can understand how he got into engineering. You can also see this in the brewing system that was chosen from Colorado Brewing Systems. A well thought out system indeed!
Even though I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Mark, you can tell his leadership and vision are some of his strengths. Also I hear that maybe he has a beer glass collection that could challenge mine! Mark just between you and me, our wives are looking for ways to reduce our stash. We need to keep a close watch.
Four people with strengths that complement each other. Each working jobs that utilized those strengths well before ever thinking about opening a brewery. Let's continue on!
I really love the saying "The is no such thing as failure, only learning". In 2012, Mark decided that it might be fun to get into wine making. Mark quickly learned that this wasn't something for him. The store where Mark bought his wine making products also had craft beer kits. Mark tried a couple of extract kits and quickly became interested in home brewing. It wouldn't be long before he would have his good friend Jason joining him in this hobby. Michigan is a great state for craft beer, so I can understand how Mark and Jason got into brewing by enjoying beers from such places as Bells, Shorts Brewing, and Founders.
In 2014, Jason got an opportunity to come work as a Quality Engineer at BD in Holdrege. Jason and Kim fell in love with the small Nebraska community and the lifestyle it provided. Mark and Jessica were still in Southern California but wanting to make a move. Mark applied for and was offered a job as an assistant brewer at Bell's Brewery in Michigan.
So things were happening for both couples but not exactly getting them together. Then prior to having to make a decision about Bell's, Kim and Jason let Mark know about an opportunity at BD in Holdrege. Mark and Jessica believed it was a better fit for starting a family, so they were on their way to Nebraska. The community now was truly beginning to feel like their new home.
Good friends brewing good beer and having a great time. Mark and Jason expanded their craft beer brewing hobby well beyond kits at this point. They had purchased some equipment and had a nice home brewing setup in which they could come up with recipes to experiment with. In the back of their minds, the desire to have a craft beer brewery was there. It wasn't until Mark and Jessica saw a building for sale downtown that really raised the possibility of owning a craft beer brewery. Jessica pushed Mark to call and eventually he did look at the building. Not the one they ended up with, but it got the ball rolling. That night, Mark and Jessica approached Kim and Jason about the idea. The couples stayed up a good chunk of the night in their basement drinking home brew and brainstorming. Wow this is getting so exciting!
The decision was made to open a brewery but where and how do we come up with financing? A whirlwind of activity ensued in order to make Lost Way Brewery a reality. Phelps County Development Corporation was a big help in getting leads on buildings and gap-financing. Great Western Bank helped facilitate the rest of the financing needs. It is great to see how a small community came together to be so instrumental in getting the project off the ground!
Finding a building in the rustic downtown area was top priority. The old brick streets and buildings in the area have great appeal. The former Sunglow Dairy building at 614 Third Ave had 4,000 sq feet of space which would work well for a brewery. Jason told me that the other thing that was appealing about the building was no basement and that it had all cement and tile floors. This helps in terms of the logistics of the brewing equipment. So while the building overall had good bones, it needed a lot of work in order to turn it into a place that you could brew beer and have a taproom. Lots of sweat equity went into the building along with help from DTC out of Kearney who was the contractor for the renovation. Things moved quickly as the building was purchased in February of this year. DTC began the renovation in June and completed in a matter of months.
The transformation of the building is incredible! The taproom is very comfortable. Definitely a place where you can go have a great conversation over a couple of pints. The windows grab your attention right away as drive by and then walk up to the building. Inside the building, you will see a lot of its original charm. The rustic wood and stainless steal bar is very cool. There are pictures from when the building was a dairy and a print shop that provide a glimpse of the history of the area which I also enjoy.
Things are looking good, but yet the last star had to fall in to place... The beer needed to be brewed and of course named. The ones for opening night include:
Corn Husking Red
Tres Corazones IPA
Snow Calf Porter
Lost Creek Wheat
You can tell the couples had a lot of fun naming these. I don't want to spoil the fun, so you need to stop in find out for yourself! I enjoyed all of the beers. Such great variety that will guarantee there is something for everyone!
When Stars Align, good things happen to good people. Lost Way Brewery is a great example of this. Jessica, Kim, Mark, and Jason here's to many great years of success. Cheers!