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Q+A with the Owner of Alma Mader Brewing

A NEW KANSAS CITY MUST-TRY

Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Alma Mader Brewing

Meet Nick Mader, the owner and head brewer of Alma Mader Brewing, which just opened here in Kansas City in April after Nick and his wife, Tania, moved back to Kansas City two years ago.

Nick started his career as a bartender here at Boulevard Brewing Company, traveled to Denver to be a part of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project in its early stages and got his master's degree in brewing and distilling through Heriot-Watt University.

While in his master's program, Nick accepted a job as a brewer at Fremont Brewing Company and moved to Seattle to get the hands-on experience accompanying his studies.

"Fast forward a couple of years, and I eventually took over our R&D and mixed culture programs where I was responsible for trialing new recipes that would be scaled up into year-round or seasonal beers, as well as evaluating raw materials (malts and hops) that could be sourced for future beers," Nick says.

"All of these experiences gave me the confidence to pursue my dream of opening Alma Mader and bring it full circle—back home where I started my career. We chose to come back to Kansas City because we knew we could contribute something special to the scene here and be a part of the fabric that is currently being woven."

What are you focused on right now?

Our focus is, and will always be, making beers that bridge tradition and innovation. This means that we brew a lot of traditional styles (such as Pilsners) but are constantly evolving and looking for ways to create modern twists to those styles. We also focus on hoppy beers (pales and IPAs). We like to be more experimental with these beers in that we are always changing up the grain and hop bills. I was able to spend a considerable amount of time in Yakima Valley (the largest hop growing region in the world) due to its proximity to Seattle, and I keep a close on eye on what is going on there in regard to new hop varieties and growing conditions year-to-year. I think we are sourcing and using the best hops available to a small brewery like us. Overall, the central theme with our lineup is drinkability. When you come into our tasting room you’ll notice a small but balanced list of beers with more options for lower alcohol beers than many breweries.

What is your philosophy?

We will always make quality-driven decisions. We pride ourselves on attention-to-detail in everything that we do. As a brewer-owned and -operated brewery, we have a different philosophy than many breweries today, in that we always place the quality of our beers, and every ingredient that goes into them, at the forefront. Hospitality and education about our beers are incredibly important to us when customers come into our tasting room. I always want people to feel welcome in our space and strive to create beer that can be enjoyed regardless of beer knowledge or pretentiousness surrounding craft beer.

What are you proud of?

I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past eight months of being open. We have many loyal customers who have become friends, and my hope is that folks feel that they can come into our tasting room to regularly find something new on the menu, but most importantly that we are consistent with the quality of our beers. 

I’m also proud of the support that we have received from the beer industry here in Kansas City. We are a small group of passionate people who get a lot done on a daily basis. We show up everyday wanting to be great at what we do. We wholeheartedly enjoy the community that is being created around Alma Mader, and it is amazing what these people can do to spread the word about our brewery. 

What sets you apart from others in your industry?

We spend a lot of time making sure that we are doing the best we can with the resources that we have. We make decisions based on what is best for the beer, and we pride ourselves on always evaluating how we can improve our beers and our tasting room experience. I’m a firm believer that there’s always room for improvement and as a brewery, we will always have that mentality regardless of how great something is tasting.

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What's next for Alma Mader?

In the coming months, we will be bringing in  a mix of barrels to get our barrel program going. I am excited to get back to playing around with oak like I did at both Crooked Stave and Fremont. We’re not looking to go crazy with the barrel-aging program, but I’d like us to start laying down base beers that we can blend, bottle, and sell out of our tasting room.

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