In Your Cocktail: Servaes Brewing Co.

Photo by Corie English

Courtney Servaes, the owner and head brewer of Shawnee’s Servaes Brewing Co., didn’t like beer when she first started brewing it.

Courtney was struggling to build community after moving to Ottawa, Kansas, when an acquaintance invited her to a meeting of local home brewers. Even though she wasn’t a fan of drinking (let alone making) beer, Courtney appreciated the group’s passion and enthusiasm and decided to give it a go, working to brew a beer that she would actually enjoy. But once that goal was met, a new one took root.

“I think almost everyone that home-brews has a dream of opening a brewery someday,” Courtney says.

After finding success on the home-brewing circuit and working on her business plan as part of an MBA program years later, Courtney decided to open her own brewery and taproom in downtown Shawnee with help from a crowdfunding campaign.

With Servaes Brewing Co.’s launch in spring 2019, it became the KC metro’s first brewery owned and operated by a woman. Courtney is quick to say that because she didn’t come up working in breweries, she’s had a very different experience than many women in the industry and has felt supported by the local brewing community. And while she and staff encounter customers who are surprised or sometimes put off by the idea of drinking a beer brewed by a woman, there are plenty of visitors who flock to the colorful, family-friendly destination to try her inventive beers, which range from Courtney’s personal favorite style—IPAs—to wheat beers, stouts, and plenty of sours, which quickly became the brewery’s hallmark.

“It’s a dirty little secret that I don’t actually like sours,” Courtney laughs, adding that she started brewing the style for her wife, Brandi. Now, they are the brewery’s bestsellers.

Servaes Brewing Co. doesn’t have a flagship beer—its 20 taps are always changing to make room for Courtney’s latest wave of creativity. With so many options to choose from, flights are an ideal way to sample all the Servaes Brewing Co. has to offer—stop by on Thursdays when they’re $2 off or let them fuel you through the bar’s weekly Tuesday Trivia nights. (The brewery also offers four packs and crowlers of many of its beers so you can enjoy them at home.)

Courtney loves to cook and takes a similarly experimental approach to brewing that she does in her own kitchen—trying new things to see what works. Sometimes that looks like a collection of pickle-inspired beers (this year’s lineup included the slam-dunk cucumber watermelon gose) or a collaboration with neighboring McLain’s Bakery where she incorporates their pastries into beers. Other times, it’s a potent combination of hops, like in the Earth to the Sun, a double New England IPA that Courtney counts among her favorites.

It turns out Courtney isn’t the only member of the Servaes family with a knack for crafting creative drinks. After tagging along to breweries and events that didn’t offer much for kids to enjoy,  her son, Aaron, had the idea to make his own root beer. Unsurprisingly, Courtney embraced the new challenge and Aaron came up with a long list of other soda ideas he wanted to try, many of which are now sold at the brewery as Aaron’s Craft Sodas. Making the brewery feel approachable and fun for families was part of Servaes’ mission from the start, and the kid-friendly drinks (as well as Servaes’ beers) can even be combined with ice cream to turn them into floats.

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