Local Brewer Gets License to Sell Hand-Crafted Beers

Local Brewer Gets License to Sell Hand-Crafted Beers

Kasey Keesaman stirs the pot full of mash - the grain and water mixture that will eventually become a fresh barrel of beer.
(OSBORN, Mo.) Kasey Keesaman stirs a pot of hot water and grain - the mash that will eventually be a fresh barrel of beer.

The smell is sweet and earthy.

"It's relaxing.  It gives me time to think and process stuff," Keesaman says, still stirring the big pot.

He knows how to make a good beer, from scratch.

"I like to cook too, so it's similar to that," the brewer said.  "It's really good to have that reward when somebody tries your beer and says 'Hey this is pretty good!'  It makes you feel pretty good about it."

Keesaman describes his brewing setup as "just a giant homebrew set," but is ready to turn his hobby into a legitimate business.

He does all his brewing in the same building as his brother Kraig's winery - the Windy Wine Company.

Both Keesaman brothers take the time to really hand craft their products.

"I originally wanted to do a brewery," Kraig says, recalling his own days as a home brewer.  "That's where I started at."

But he founded Windy Wine a few years ago, and planted the beer bug inside his brother's ear.

"He moved onto wine but he wanted to show me the beer trade, and I thought it was interesting," Kasey said.  "So that's what I did.  He showed me how to do it, and I've been addicted ever since."

That addiction has become Black Belt Brewery - the newest licensed brewery in northwest Missouri.

And it's taken upwards of two years to get that license.

Kasey says there has been a ton of paperwork both on the federal and state levels.

They've made the Keesaman brothers stick to strict regulations, get renovations to their building, and become a lot more patient just to get the physical license that says it's okay to sell the beer in stores.

Kasey's wife showed him the official letter when it came late last week.
"My mind went into hyperdrive and now it's working at 110 miles per hour, and I'm like 'Whoa! What do I gotta do now?' I gotta get this goin' and this goin' and this goin'.  We're over one hurdle and we're starting the upward climb," he said.

Above most issues, officials didn't like that Keesaman's brewery is in the same building as a winery.

They've required a partition to separate them; there's a green line taped on the floor showing where that partition will go.

"On the top of my head I can't remember a lot of the stuff, it was a nightmare sometimes and sometimes I wanted to throw my hands up and be like 'What now?!'" Kasey said, recalling that the day he actually got the license, he assumed it was yet another obstacle before legitimizing his business.

"It ultimately goes down to those loopholes that were set in motion after Prohibition, and - not to name names - but the biggest brewery in Missouri has a lot do with controlling that," Kraig said.

But now the paperwork is done.

And the brewmaster can get back to his craft.

Kasey Keesaman hopes to start bottling the Black Belt Brewery beers in the next few weeks. Sales should begin in October. Keesaman already has an agreement with Hy-Vee in St. Joseph.

He'll start with a run of five "flagship" beers, a milk stout called Ninja Breakfast, a light rye ale called Rye-Kwon-Do, an India Pale Ale called Hop-Kido, an apple ale called Grapple, and Brew-cha Libre, an agave-infused pale ale.   

And Kasey even let his brother design a beer - a Belgian golden ale they're calling Crow Killer.
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