Visit to Walnut River brings back good memories

by Joey Young, Publisher

There is a lot that can happen in three years. Nearly three years ago, Newton Now was just a dream for Bruce Behymer and I, and Blues, Brews, and BBQ wasn’t something on our radar as something we even could do.

Our company has grown a lot over three years, and that is exciting for Behymer and me, the rest of our Kansas Publishing Ventures family, and hopefully, our supporters.

I can imagine the feeling is the same for the guys at Walnut River Brewing Company. Three years ago, they got a call from a publisher, me, who really just wanted an excuse to brew beer with some pros, and I figured I could learn a thing or two for home brewing, along with doing a pretty cool story for our shopper, The Edge.

I called BJ Hunt, a partner in the brewery, and he agreed to deal with Behymer and me at the brewery, despite the fact that, three years ago, they could barely keep up with production in a small distribution area for their growing brewery in El Dorado.

If you are a Kansas craft beer fan, I would be surprised if you haven’t heard of Walnut River Brewing Company or their flagship beer, “Warbeard,” now, though.

See, their brewery has grown substantially and is expanding into the Kansas City, Mo., market after now distributing state wide.

If you want a craft beer in Kansas, you have probably have been offered a brew handcrafted in El Dorado by Rick Goehring, B.J. Hunt and Travis Rohrberg.

It’s funny how things bring people back together.

Behymer and I have enjoyed Walnut River’s growth almost as much as ours. To watch those guys make a name for themselves, remodel their brewery, and become one of the best known breweries in the state is cool. Hell, we have had our fair share of planning sessions over a Warbeard or two.

That is why when Behymer and I decided to do another crazy thing—if starting a newspaper wasn’t crazy enough—and launch Blues, Brews and BBQ, I couldn’t think of anyone else we would rather do a beer for our event with outside of Walnut River Brewing Company.

Again, I called Hunt and pitched the idea. They have done some small batch beers with bars throughout the state and were amenable to the idea.

Not only did Behymer and I get to launch a blues concert in Newton, but we got to have a signature crafted beer with our friends, too? Cloud nine.

We went to the brewery last week to knock out “Off The Record Ale,” a Munich dunkel that will be rich and malty, with a low bitterness, which should make for an easy drinking beer, perfect for fall.

Walking into their facility again was crazy. It looks literally nothing like it once did. The room we brewed in before is now their canning line. Sidebar: Have you ever had a beer 15 seconds old right off the canning line? It was pretty awesome.

Their 90-gallon brew system was now the system to brew small batches on, not their main brewing system.

They have a small, very rustic taproom, where you can get their famous Warbeard and Highbeam IPA, along with smaller batch beers like a Peachberry Sour, Belgian Stout, and Black Lager (something they brewed with the Rusty Needle Bar and Grill in Hutchinson called Needlejuice) they rotate in and out.

They are even having an event in the brewery, something three years ago wouldn’t have been possible in the former 1920s brothel. Another sidebar: they named their fermenters after popular prostitute names from the 1920s as an ode to the building’s past. All of them are also “Gone in 60-Seconds” cars, which is probably the more “PC” answer to give when people ask during tours. You know the real truth, though.

They are going to do an “Adult Beer Prom” for the second year in a row. They sold out last year and expect to again this year. That event is Nov. 18, and you can get more info on their Facebook page or by calling the brewery.

So I can’t thank the guys from Walnut River enough. They let us come up and drink beer and brew beer (it’s hard to do one without the other) again and I loved it, but more importantly, they are doing a signature beer for our event, which makes this thing pretty unique.

There is a limited amount of the beer we brewed, which means it is very possible the only place you can get this beautiful brew is at Blues, Brews, and BBQ on Oct. 7, so you better get your tickets (cheap plug) soon.

Behymer and I will probably hold a keg back just for us, but if you know either of us, there isn’t much chance of us sharing our special beer with just anyone, so you should probably just buy a ticket.

On top of the special brew, Blues, Brews, and BBQ will be Moreland and Arbuckle’s last show ever. Amanda Fish is going to be rocking the house before M&A, and there will be upwards of 12 food trucks and vendors feeding the masses.

Buy your tickets at

Interested in our old story about Walnut River three years ago? Check out:
Go to 2014 Back Issues and click on October.