When you think of Kansas, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you’re brain is filling with images of ruby slippers, tornados, corn fields and the flattest U.S. landscape of any of the 50 states. But after you try the beers we’ve selected from the Pony Express Brewing Company, we think you’ll start associating Kansas with great microbrewed beer as well! This heartland brewing operation was founded in 1995 by Joe Effertz, Jr., in Olathe, Kansas. Originally a farmer with a degree in agriculture from the University of Missouri, Effertz decided to leave his company farm to try something different. After opening a retail liquor store, Effertz noticed a rise in popularity of micro-brewed beers (this was right at the start of the microbrew renaissance). He studied craft brewing techniques and, staying within the spirit of a crafty farmer, came up with a plan to launch his own microbrewery. He still uses the wheat grown on his family’s own farm in his beers and sells the by-product grains to cattle farmers to use as feed.
Back in 1994, Joe met Ed Nelson and the two joined forces, eventually opening two restaurants and a brewery in the Overland Park area of Kansas. They purchased the Olathe building for the brewery and began working on what would become the highly successful Pony Express brand. Joe got the name for the brewery when he was on his way to the hospital in the back of an ambulance and someone said, “drive fast like the Pony Express!” Together the team developed a wide variety of beers that reflect the spirit of the American farmlands.
Today the Pony Express Brewing Company is recognized as America’s first farmer-owned brewery. TransCon AG, Inc. is a new generation cooperative owned 100% by farmers from Missouri and Kansas, and the Pony Express B.C. is one of their primary subsidiaries. Their primary focus, like any good farmer, is quality control—from initial crop planting to the finished production process. And this dedication has paid off as the locals have taken quite a liking to the Pony Express brews. But the locals are not alone; along with a Midwest distribution network, Pony Express beers were the first American microbrews to be distributed in Taiwan and China. Now that’s a long way from Kansas, Toto.
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call (913) 764-7669 or check out their web site at www.ponygold.com.