Back in October while on our way to the Great American Beer Festival, we stopped off in Hays, Kansas for a pint our two at Gella's Diner/Liquid Bread Brewing Co. To say we were rewarded for our stop would be a vast understatement. Just one stop at Gella's/Lb. Brewing drastically changed the way I felt about the entire state of Kansas.
When we returned home I began to wonder how it all happened. How does one of the best brewpubs I've ever visited end up in the middle of Kansas? In order to find out, I followed up with Gerald Wyman, the award winning brewer behind the fantastic beer at Lb.
1) The story of Gella's and Liquid Bread Brewing Co. on your website provides a little insight into how the company got started, but I guess my first question would be "How does a farmer from rural western Kansas (Brownell) get into craft beer?"
I homebrewed for eight years and enjoyed it very much. My wife and I sold off some farm assets and invested in the Brewpub.
2) You went from homebrewing to opening your own brewpub to winning GABF silver with your Oatmeal Stout all in the course of what looks like less than a year - I don't mean this as a slight, because I'm sure there was a lot of work involved, but were you surprised at your success?
You're right, it was alot of work and the medal was a very nice surprise. It made it all worth it.
3) Your website states "Along with 53 local investors, Gerald and Chuck brought Hays, Kan. its own microbrewery and diner in the summer of 2005." How does that ownership group function? How are decisions made?
It is owned by a group of investors with a board of directors in charge.
4) One of the things that impressed me most about your whole concept, from the interior of your restaurant to the look of your posters, beer logos and website, was that good design seemed to be a priority. Who's behind all of that? Is your design talent local?
Brandon Duncan is an employee of one of our partners. He is behind most of the designs.
5) We've seen all types of microbreweries here in our own state; ones that just want to be a neighborhood pub with good beer, ones that aspire to bottle and distribute to a large area and ones that want to expand with multiple locations. What are your long term goals for Liquid Bread? What about the investors, do they share your vision or have you had to compromise to make everyone happy?
Our goals have never changed. It is to be a profitable Brewpub with great food and beer.
Photos by Lb. Brewing Co, also available as desktop wallpaper.
6) Founders Brewing uses a great mantra: "We brew beer we like to drink." What's the philosophy and approach you take in developing new staple beer or seasonal brews?
The one thing I like the most about brewing is experimenting with new beer styles. We do a new seasonal every month.
Bonus Question: What's the weirdest beer you've brewed?
The weirdest beer I brew is based on a sweet potato dish that my wife makes. It's called Colonial Ale and is on tap right now! I brewed it using sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. This is a Thanksgiving beer I made as a homebrewer.
* * * * *
All of us at Hoosier Beer Geek wish to thank Gerald for taking the time to answer our questions, and for his dedication to good beer. If you're ever in Kansas, or even just driving through, don't hesitate to stop in at Gella's/Lb. Brewing Co. And when you do, tell them your read all about it on Hoosier Beer Geek.