What do a brewery, a bike store, and the City of Raytown have to celebrate together? The opening of Phase 2 of the Rock Island Trail. The Crane Brewing Company held an event on July 10 to celebrate this milestone. The Rock Island Trail is a trail for bikers and hikers. Phase 2 completes a 13 1/2 mile stretch from Jefferson Street in Lees Summit to Brickyard Road in Kansas City,
through Raytown, and ending at the Truman Sports Complex. This phase includes three new trailheads with parking areas and four former railroad bridges. There is hope for an eventual connection to the MOPAC trail in Pleasant Hill which connects to the KATY trail in Windsor, MO.
Along the path of this new accessway at 6515 Railroad St. in Raytown sits the Crane Brewing Company. Owners Michael Crane, Chris Meyers, and Jason Louk hosted the event which was rich with food trucks, festivities, bicyclists, and of course, beer. The group of men, who came from all different walks of life, have been looking forward to this opening for years, knowing it will increase foot traffic to their brewery.
The Crane Brewing Company comes from humble beginnings. Michael Crane, a former manufacturer, saw a home brewing kit at Target and thought it would make an interesting hobby. His sons were into craft beers. He quickly became fascinated with the chemistry behind creating beer with different flavors. This hobby became more as he began pouring free samples at craft beer festivals. The Kansas City Star picked up his story, which took him to the next level.
Chris Meyers, a former veterinarian, was homebrewing his own craft creations. He happened to read that article by the Star. He made contact with Crane and proposed opening their own brewing company. The two beer creators devised a plan. They met with Jason Louk, a CPA. Louk gathered investors for their idea and decided to come on board as a partner himself.
The three men can be found down on Railroad Street serving up kegs of their own creations. They have plans to expand into a coffee house, add a kitchen, and create a beer garden. 2020 was tough for everyone, including the brewers. “Anything can happen and our doors can shut,” Meyers said. The company would have folded if it wasn’t for the local beer enthusiasts and the creativity of the brewers. They are known for their fruit and sour beers. Their biggest seller is Tea Weiss. They buy the tea locally. It's fruity but not a fruit beer. There will be a Pineapple Weiss released at their annual tiki night at the end of this month on July 31. Proceeds from this beer will go to Children's Mercy.
When thinking of this grand opening trail event, the Crane Brewing Company reached out to Bike Stop, a bike store with locations in Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit. Ross Given, co-owner of the Bike Stop said, “We collaborated with Michael Crane a while back and we know that bikes and breweries go together really well.” This is especially true with the trail being right next to the brewery.
Bike Stop showcased the future of bikes, showing off electric bicycles. These bikes are fantastic for those people who have disabilities as it helps propel them without as much effort, according to Given. A rider still has to pedal the electric bike, and still gets a workout. The bikes weigh about 50 pounds but are transportable.
One of the families celebrating the opening was the family of William Neds. Neds' father was a city attorney for Raytown. His father first wanted to open this trail 25 years ago. Getting to see it happen, even all these years later, is a great triumph for this family.
Giving back to the community is important to both businesses. Bike Stop hopes to host a bike station by Crane Brewing Company which will help give back to the brewery and the trail. Crane loves to give back by hosting fundraisers for nonprofits such as Harvesters, Children’s Mercy, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kansas City. Crane says his favorite fundraiser was for the Midwest Animal Rescue. There is one thing he knows for sure; beer, bicycles, music, food, and beautiful trail views bring together the community in a new and wonderful way. Head on out to the trail on your feet or your bike, grab a beer, and enjoy all that these trails have to offer.