Last updated on January 17th, 2023 at 11:05 am.
The warm late summer wind is blowing in the Crossroads area city of Kansas City and it smells of hops and a good time. A local Kansas City brewery you’ll want to place first on your list to visit is Brewery Emperial. Located in the Crossroads area of Kansas City Missouri, near the Power & Light district Brewery Emperial is unique and a KCMO fav!
Cool people, a great vibe, good times, and craft beer are what you’ll find in the gardens at Brewery Emperial. Let’s face it, we all just want to get out, socialize more and do it safely. A casual, friendly, and outdoor option is this beer garden and eatery.
Brewery emperial: a Top-Notch Kansas City Brewery
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Cool people, great vibe, and good times are what you’ll get in the gardens at Brewery Emperial.
Brewery Emperial is a must-visit for locals and visitors to Kansas City. The microbrewery has an indoor bar and an outdoor beer garden and there is a story behind it all.
The ambiance is casual and understated. If you hang out a bit in the “bE beer garden” chances are you’ll meet a few of the locals and will learn from some of their most devoted fans about the beer and why people keep coming back.
Today the Crossroads area has the nickname, Brewer’s Alley in large part to Brewery Emperial opening in this location and brewing high-quality neoclassic versions of ales and lagers.
The owner, Keith Thompson is very approachable and a super nice guy. He’s always smiling and has a great cast of people working with him. He reminds me of an old surfing buddy I used to know in California, because of his laidback personality and sense of humor.
Keith studied Biology in Lawrence, Kansas, and is a bit of a scientist when it comes to beer making. Producing beer in small batches with Japanese equipment, he is able to control the flavor and quality.
Another key player on the team is General Manager, Candice. She was originally at the “Foundry” across town and is helping to create a great experience for every guest who walks through the door. You can see this place runs like a top.
Small-Batch Brewing in Kansas City, MO
You could say they are very passionate about their small-batch brewing concept at Emperial. Keith said, “it’s part of what makes it easier to run the business”.
Higher volume and big-box style approach demands are tough and change the way a brewery works including how beer is produced. At Emperial they choose to keep it small batch, high quality, and more controlled.
“We create a drinking beer that is good and goes down smooth and makes you want another,” says Keith.
The flavors are more subtle and less in your face. bE makes a great beer to accompany food and doesn’t make you feel weighted down. An everyday beer drinker’s beer and a complete menu of food and appetizers are available.
The Food & Beer Garden
They have a wide variety of food and drink to satisfy such as the very drinkable Emperial IPA paired with beer-battered catfish and fries or the easy-drinking Belgian stout and a schnitzel sandwich.
Below is the roasted chicken that comes with all the fixings to make your own tacos.
Picnic tables, funky objects and collectibles, and an ultra-casual vibe make for a great time. The outer beer garden is a large area, surrounded by storage containers and a fence to keep the coolness in.
They have the walls painted in wild graffiti and bright colors. It’s kinda an artsy place you can come to with no dress code and no expectations. It’s just about a good time.
Within the Beer Garden, there are funky pieces of art, cool signs, and wild graffiti to make it more home-like and colorful.
Picnic tables out front and in the beer gardens make hanging out here with a friend or in a bigger group is fun and easy.
The inside bar area is comfy and cool with some fun art and collectibles, but we did not get to fully experience it on our recent trip as only the outdoor beer garden was open. It does seem like one of the best bars in a brewery I’ve seen in KCMO.
imperial brewery or brewery emperial?
When you think Prohibition and Kansas City you think Emperial because of the history of this place. It’s in the heart of the city where only a few distilleries existed after prohibition, so there is a lot of history here.
Imperial Brewery (with an “I”) was started in 1901 by investors from St Louis and local Kansas City saloon owners. At the time, Kansas City had only a handful of breweries and brewery depots.
H. James Maxwell, the author of Hometown Beer: A History of Kansas City’s Breweries, shares the history of the breweries of Kansas City from the 1850s up to the present day and says that Imperial Brewery revolutionized how breweries were built.
The Kansas City brewery made two lager-style beers: the Mayflower and the Imperial Seal, but closed in 1919 because of prohibition.
Keith, who used to work at McCoys Public House, another brewery in town, shared that he was inspired by pre-prohibition Imperial when starting Brewery Emperial.
Brewery Emperial Brewing Process
Keith took me on a behind-the-scenes brewery tour and shared a few of their brew lab secrets!
The brewery uses special tanks that were designed and produced in Japan to brew beer. When the tanks were delivered they came with instructions, but they were all in Japanese.
So the team had to quickly decipher what all the translations were to get up and rolling. Formerly the tanks were used by HItichino Nest in Naka, Japan.
With tanks and a brewing system from Japan, Keith tried to explain to me the process in Japanese. No, not really, but it sounds like a slightly different process than I have seen before at other breweries.
The reality is they have a 15 bbl four-vessel system that consists of a mash mixer, lauter, kettle, and hot liquor tank. From there they transfer the wort to custom-designed square-glycol jacketed30 bbl fermentors were and add a pinch of yeast.
bE offers seasonal brews and specialties like HIBISCUS GOSE, BARLEY WINE, EMPERIAL IPA and more. They keep it interesting, but simple. Complex but not complicated is the motto here.
The beer-making process is a bit different at Emperial, just like the name is. They use special tanks and they have customized their system to work for them only, but this is what makes the beer unique. They use a local source for oak barrels to store the products as well.
Emperial brews about 500 gallons per batch, so it’s a small batch approach compared to some of the other local breweries.
Small-batch brewing ensures the most consistent quality and the word is getting out about this great microbrewery and its tasty variations.
With their own in-house bottling, Emperial get’s it all done in a small footprint. Refreshing and ready to enjoy.
MY favorite 3 BEERS at BREWERY emperial AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS:
I like to rank my top 3 beers when I do these types of reviews.
STYLE: Germanic style
COLOR: Pale, Golden light
CHARACTERISTICS: Lighter in color, spicy, less malty, and presents a drier finish with its larger hop profile.
NOTES: American spin on a classic Germanic style.
STYLE: Part English ESB, part old school American Pale Ale.
COLOR: Pale Straw
CHARACTERISTICS: Bread & toast tasty, a palate pleaser.
NOTES: Spring/Summertime Pale ale
CHARACTERISTICS: Clean & clear, fresh Noble hop flavor, subtle corn sweetness
NOTES: A Throwback to the great Pilseners brewed before Prohibition
If you like sour beers, the Hibiscus Gose is for you. It is brewed with hibiscus, sea salt, pilsener malt, wheat malt, wheat. It is light, bright, tart, and refreshing.
Tapping right in, to offer freshly brewed hard ciders and craft brews. Single-walled serving vessels (also 30 bbl) flow directly to their taps from their cold cellar.
Emperial’s fermenting and serving tanks were purchased locally from Custom Metalcraft in Springfield MO.
With the Emperial Passport Reward program regulars are taken care of and have great incentive to come in regularly and with friends and make this Kansas City brewery their beer garden of choice. It’s a bit of a help-yourself atmosphere here in the Gardens.
Brewery Emperial is in the end, one of KCMO’s local favorite craft breweries, because of the people and the atmosphere. If you have friends coming into town and want to do something easy and fun to start, begin at Emperial.
Ask for Keith & tell him you read about Emperial here in Travel in Missouri, and he will treat you right. Learn some great KCMO brewing history and taste some good beer drinking beer. Reserve a table at Emperial here.
Create some new great memories at this KCMO local brewery. Enjoy!
Love beer? Check out the Rare Beer Club featuring hand-crafted, limited-release, artisanal beers from the world’s best brewers.
brewery Emperial address & info
Brewery Emperial is located in the heart of the city in the Crossroads neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri and has been in operation since 2017.
Their motto: Our goal is to empower our community, deliver great food and beer in a friendly and attentive manner while maintaining a casual atmosphere suitable for any occasion.
Address: 1829 Oak St, KANSAS CITY MO
Click here for Directions.
Hours & Happy Hour
Monday – Thursday 4pm-9pm
Happy Hour is usually Monday-Thursday from 2-6pm.
** Please call in advance to verify hours and happy hour as they can change by season or per Covid mandates.