Faces of Kansas City: The science of making suds - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: The science of making suds

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Turning 20 has its ups and downs - you're not a teenager anymore, but you can't yet belly up to the bar in the United States. Although there is a 20-year-old in Waldo who's been knee-deep in beer since birth.

They have been making suds down to a science at the 75th Street Brewery in Waldo, but it hasn't always been such a smooth operation. Opening day, 20 years ago, had some bumps in the road.

"So we opened at 4 or 5 o'clock and an hour later the whole place was full. We had six servers and we needed 20, we had one bartender and probably needed four. We ran out of beer four days after we opened - four days," Ed Nelson said.

But the real work came long before they poured their first beer.

"We had to change the law at the city level to allow brew pubs because they weren't allowed back then," Nelson said.

He said brew pubs weren't allowed because city council members didn't even know what they were.

"They had never heard of a brew pub, they thought it was going to be a strip joint and free beer and 24/7. Neighbors are going to hate us," Nelson said.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the 75th Street Brewery is the oldest brew pub in Kansas City.

"We're one of the oldest in the country. There were 120 breweries in the whole country when we opened and now there are something like 2,500, so we go way back," he said.

Then disaster struck in 2007 when a fire broke out. Nelson was out of town at the time, but couldn't believe what he was seeing on TV.

"It was on the news - the national news where I was in Phoenix at the time," Nelson said. "The flames and the pictures, I can't believe it all didn't burn down."

It's believed a small alley served as a buffer to keep the fire from destroying the brew pub. Now, the alley is the cool area to sip a drink.

"This is where the younger, hipper people hang out," Nelson said. "You (to KCTV5's Brad Stephens) and I would be in the other room."

It's a Kansas City success story.

"We've sold something like 12 million pints of beer. I've been told hundreds of people have been engaged here, thousands who've had their first date here."

They've been making beer and making memories for two decades.

"Will the 75th Street Brewery be here 20 years from now? If we can avoid big explosions and fires, and if the city streets are still here, we'll still be here."

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