Head Brewer, Nebraska Brewing Co.
Tyson Arp has been with the brewpub since it first opened just over five years ago. Originally a carpenter, he studied brewing at the Siebel Institute. His lucky break came when he won Best in Show at his first homebrewing competition. One of the judges, Paul Kavulak, was poised to open Nebraska Brewing Co., and hired Arp as assistant brewer.
AAB: Nebraska Brewing Co. seems to have a two-pronged business model. There’s a fairly traditional brewpub with a casual American menu and beer in standard craft styles, and then you have this edgy experimental line.
TA: That’s a good way to look at it. From the production side, it is almost two separate streams of beer. That’s partly a reflection of the atmosphere here in Omaha when we started, and things we had to do to define markets, but also do the beers we wanted to do and find people who wanted to drink them.
Are you almost dealing with two different markets?
To some extent. The Reserve Series and the barrel-aged beers, we drive a lot of that to our out-of-state markets. Locally we do a lot more of our session beers. We have really great distributers who move our Reserve Series as well, but the Omaha market is still an emerging beer scene.
Would one of your brewpub regulars who comes in each week for dinner and a beer be startled if you poured them Melange a Trois?
Not any more. Our locals are all about that stuff, too. It’s been fun to see how the Omaha market has grown in the five years we’ve been around. When we opened, we had other people on the beer scene telling us “Oh, you can’t sell an IPA in this market.” We said, “Well, those are the beers we like, so we’re going to make them anyway.” Maybe we struggled a bit in the first two years, but it’s been interesting to see in the pub how the tastes of our regulars and our restaurant crowd have changed over time. We see the hoppier beers starting to outsell the maltier, lower IBU beers.
How long did that take?
It took three years before they embraced our pale ale, and now there’s kind of a cult following for it locally. People freak out when we don’t have it available.