Mixing a Washington Beltway-style tap house with “Nebraska Fresh” brewing, Kros Strain Brewery is the latest entry into the Omaha area’s craft beer scene. Opened since June, the LaVista-based brewery has quickly established itself as a player in the local beer market.
Scott Strain spent several years working in Washington, DC, for former Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, as well as conducting legislative research for committees. Seven years ago, his wife Michelle bought him a home brew kit. The rest, they say, is history.
Scott developed beers and kept on improving his creations. He went on to win beer tasting contests.
“I got tired of politics and looked around and thought, ‘Hey, this beer industry looks pretty cool,’” he said.
So, leaving the political life behind, Scott took a job working for Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion.
In the meantime, Bobby Kros was working as a mechanical engineer at the local nuclear power plant. He eventually took a job at the brewing company, too.
The pair became friends. They shared dreams of creating their own beer flavors. After spending a couple of years developing their business plan, as well as beer recipes, they set off on their own. Kros Strain (pronounced Cross Strain) became a reality when construction started on the brewery in early 2017. The team’s motto is “Nebraska Fresh,” combining their beer recipes with their Husker state backgrounds.
Kros Strain has been a family affair, Michelle said. Kros’ wife Lacey helps run the bar, among other responsibilities. Parents, in-laws and other relatives have chipped in to help, she said.
Bobby and Scott designed the brewery themselves and ensured there is room for growth.
As the brewery produces 60-90 barrels a week, they bottle the beer, as well as sell kegs. Bobby inspects random beer bottles to ensure quality.
Besides being sold in the attached tap room, the brewery distributes their product to area stores and bars, including Hy-Vee, Super Target, Whole Foods, Local, Cunningham’s, Addy’s and Blatt.
Main menu, limited releases
Kros Strain sells three main beers, as well as limited release recipes, in its tap room. The team wanted the tap room look different from others in Omaha, so they had it resemble one that you may see in the DC area. The interior design provides an inviting atmosphere for visitors. A 24-foot tall mural lists the main beers among its design. Tables are made from old cable reels.
The brewery reached out to Omaha’s bar past to help tell its story. An angel standing in a corner was obtained from the old Dundee Bar, near Dundee Theater. Bar equipment came from the former Bohemian Café. The bar was built from former farm wood, Michelle said.
The tap room provides a family-friendly environment, she said. Visitors are encouraged to play board games the brewery has on hand.
The three main beers are tasty. Helles Creek is similar to Bud Light. Dark Paradise combines coffee from A Hill of Beans with an amber ale. The taste is smooth with a note of coffee. The third beer is name Fairy Nectar, which is an IPA. The taste mixes grapefruit and mango with a low level of bitterness. I’m not a hops fan, but enjoyed Fairy Nectar.
We sampled two of the brewery’s limited release recipes. Dark Paradise Ugandan combines 4.3 percent alcohol with Ugandan coffee beans for a deep coffee flavor. Fairy Nectar Hopped Double Dry Hop pushes the hops with a citrus taste. The 6.2 percent beer has a nice taste, with a slight hoppy taste.
With its impressive beer collection, games and fun environment, Kros Strain welcomes groups, such as bridal parties, office meetings and trivia nights. The tap room can host up to 125 people, Michelle said.
Tasty beer and good times add up to a great time at Kros Strain. We recommend visiting the brewery and tap room.
For more information or a complete list of its beers, check out Kros Strain at www.krosstrainbrewing.com.