Friday, August 31, 2012

Lucky Bucket Brewing (La Vista, NE)

Lucky Lager draft with distillery in distance.
Playground fence clearly splits brewhouse from
distillery, I assume to meet licensing requirements. 

Warning--google maps sends you the wrong way. After a bit more research on my cell phone, I found myself in a nondescript warehouse district rather than a nondescript housing complex in La Vista, Nebraska.  Lucky Bucket is in a large commercial space with a handmade tasting area in the front of the open brewery. Lack of AC on what the Bug said is a 105 degree day makes a tour a bad choice at 4:30 in the afternoon, but that's how it goes when beer hunting.

Walking in the door, aging barrels greet me along with a cooler of beer to purchase. Can't see the boil kettles from my table, but there's a view are least eight large fermenters that speak to LB's expansion.  I've had a bottle or two before (thanks Linda from work who is friends with the brewer Zack), but have also seen them in beer stores that I frequent. Linda said the brewer was interested in starting a distillery, which the kettle for that can be seen clearly from the bar.

The place reminds me of Amnesia Brewing in Portland, minus five IPAs, a veggie dog and a life-sizes My Little Pony head on the wall: Lucky Bucket was clearly built lovingly by hand in the space available.  As I'm sitting here, several business types, a couple looking like they met her to do business and three that seem to be young bucks in ties meeting after work. Later, more T-shirted locals showed up as well and the placed filled up quickly right before the tour. Not bad for a Thursday afternoon.
First stop---check out the full tour.

Talked to the bartender and he's hoping to bring in food trucks and have football fans come in for Cornhusker games to drink Children of the Corn (cool name and sadly not on tap today). Free pretzels is the only food on site, but Jimmy John's and a pizza place will deliver to the tap room.

$3 for the tour with a free sample of the lager in plastic glass. Might want to bump it up to a pint in a glass glass for a better taste.  Groupon seems to be why many are here.  Most didn't pay for the tour and worked on the $25 credit through pints with friends. Good marketing idea.  Crazy busy tour and can't believe I was almost the only person in the bar 45 minutes earlier.  

Certified Evil with brewery in distance. 
The tour guide was a recently hired employee and very enthusiastic in his explanation of the brewery.  Standard chat for a non-geek crowd, but fun to walk around hearing the details and drink fresh beer samples from their kegerator styled cooler half way through the tour.

I learned a bit about LB, enjoyed the stop and the good beer on site. No surprise that Certified Evil, an oaked strong ale, was my favorite.  Not quite a top tier national beer, but a very respectable brew that packs a punch in spite of it's smooth character.  A close second for me--and a bit of a shock if you've discerned my taste for big and/or hoppy--was the Lucky Lager.  A pre-prohibition style lager, this is a very clean full malt brew that's dry hopped in the west coast style that makes it a unique and sessionable, an American lager to be proud of the label.

Lucky Bucket is clearly a hard working brewery that is passionate to grow, and I wish them well and hope that they continue to have success.

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