Nebraska's biggest brewery coming to La Vista - Omaha.com
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Nebraska Brewing Company’s co-owners Paul and Kim Kavulak stand before the mash tuns at the company’s new brewing facility at 6946 S. 108th St., in La Vista.(Photo by Adam Klinker / World-Herald News Service)


Nebraska's biggest brewery coming to La Vista
By Adam Klinker / World-Herald News Service


Twenty-two years ago, Paul Kavulak stood at his stovetop with a bottle of malt extract and worked on the wort of his very first homebrew.

Today, Kavulak, co-owner of Nebraska Brewing Company, is just weeks away from opening what will be the state’s largest brewery at 6946 S. 108th St., in La Vista. But just as with that first humble beer on the stove, the “biggest” tag isn’t what moves Kavulak.

“What matters is making good beer, not how much of it you’re making,” he said last week as he navigated the massive tuns and fermenters and grain bins at the brewery, which, when it opens, will give the company capacity to produce 10,000 barrels of beer annually and has the potential to expand that output to 50,000 barrels. “If you’re making good beer, people are going to drink it, then you can make more of it. That’s always been our stance.”

The brewery will primarily focus on running production of the company’s four main labels: Cardinal Pale Ale, Brunette Nut Brown Ale, EOS Hefeweizen and India Pale Ale.

A canning operation at the new facility will also mark the first time Nebraska Brewing’s beers will be available in aluminum.

In one corner of the brewery is Nebraska Brewing Company’s library — a 15-foot shelf on which will reside every reserve series beer the company has ever brewed.

“The idea there is that we can keep those around and see how they age, what changes and how we brewed them,” Kavulak said.

There will also be a 20-tap tasting room at the brewery where all the company’s brews will be available. The room can also be rented for groups and special events. Kavulak is also eager to begin tours at the new facility.

Kavulak and his wife, Kim, opened Nebraska Brewing Company’s first outlet, a brewpub at Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion, in 2007 and the pub will continue to brew about 1,550 barrels yearly and serve as something of an experimentation station for the company’s reserve and season concoctions.

“The brewpub is still going to give us that ability to focus on some other fun, innovative stuff for us to try,” Kim Kavulak said.

Even at the time of the brewpub’s opening, a period when craft brewing was just beginning a sudden uptick nationwide, the couple had their eyes set on an expansion project.

But when the Great Recession hit just months after launching the brewpub, the Kavulaks changed their business plan, choosing to broaden their brand around the country.

“When the economy shifted, it forced us to get more creative,” Paul Kavulak said. “We said we needed to get these beers into markets that mattered, so we went to the East Coast and that begat greater sales in the Midwest and, eventually, the West Coast and, before long, we’re now in 18 states. It caught on. People discovered you could get good beer in Nebraska, and we saw that we’ve got something we can do really well.”

With a wide base built, Nebraska Brewing and the Kavulaks were ready for this next push.

And they had a great idea of where they were going to make it.

“We’re excited to be staying in Sarpy County,” Kim said. “The local support we’ve had here has been amazing. Working with Papillion, working with La Vista, we couldn’t ask for better cooperation to complete this vision than we’ve had. This is a great place for the tap room. It brings something new to the neighborhood.”

The La Vista brewery is a quick drive from the Papillion brewpub, and out of the brewery’s western doors is another landmark where the company has taken root: Werner Park, where Nebraska Brewing last summer debuted Ale Storm, the ballpark’s signature beer.

Also in the brewery’s neighborhood and part of Sarpy County’s expanding booze business is Lucky Bucket Brewery and Cut Spike Distillery, and the new Patriarch Distillery. Also in the county are Soaring Wings in Springfield and Moonstruck Meadery in Bellevue.

“We call it co-optiion,” Paul said of the proximity of the other facilities and the jostle for market share. “We all ultimately want each other to be successful because we’re all aimed at giving people a chance to drink other beers and to have a different experience than with the big, national brands.”

While making their own move to get bigger, Nebraska Brewing still maintains those stovetop roots. The Kavulaks’ three children are all taking a hand in the family business. Son Dylan works for the brand, son Connor is attending school to become a brewer and daughter Riley staffs the brewpub.

“We do this because we have a passion for it,” Kim said. “We’re lucky to make a living doing what we love to do.”


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