Head Brewer Nick Lawson grains out the mash tun while making wheat beer at Cody Craft Brewing on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. The used grain goes to Big Country Genetics to feed livestock.

The past year has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for Cody Craft Brewery owners Brian and Jen Walker.

The brewery underwent back-and-forth negotiations with the City of Cody to start the year regarding how many parking spaces they would be allowed to utilize for their business, a number that was connected to the granting of their building permit. 

Then in the spring and early summer, the business was hit hard by supply-chain shortages that significantly delayed its construction process.

But when it rains it pours, and when the supplies came in, Brian Walker said they all came around the same time.

“Once we had everything we needed, we were able to work fast and furious,” he said.

The Walkers and their head brewer, Nick Lawson, worked nonstop throughout the fall to get the brewery ready as soon as they could, no easy task for Walker, who was still working a full-time job remotely for Amazon.

“We’ve been a little tired and still are a little tired,” Walker said.

Part of the preparation process involved getting the brewing equipment set up and beer made -- typically a 2-4 week job.

“You have a lot of creativity and freedom to manipulate the ingredients and process and make it to your own,” said Lawson, who comes to Cody after working as a brewer at High Altitude Brewery in Gunnison, Colo., 

In some ways the Cody Craft brewing room is more akin to a scientific laboratory than a space for making beer with its test tubes, microscope and beakers. 

“It’s a lot like any sort of chemistry experiment,” Lawson said. 

Grain and malted barley get milled and poured into a mash tun, which allows the beer to develop in a process similar to steeping tea. The liquid is kept at 180 degrees to extract the sugars, before it is heated and cooled further with the addition of hops. After, the beer is poured into the yeast fermenter. The type of beer being made will determine how long it sits. Flavoring and adding color to the beer come last.

On Dec. 20 the brewery opened its doors for the first time. This Friday will be the official grand opening.

Walker said there has been a small learning curve for some customers who may have never been to a craft brewery before and don’t understand that the establishment does not sell food. It does, however, allow food trucks to park outside and customers to bring their own food and order it deliveried to the site. It’s also pet-friendly.

“So you can bring your dog, I don’t really expect to see any cats,” Walker said with a laugh. 

Cody Craft carries only its own beers and plans to have seven different brews on tap by Friday with the unveiling of a new wheat beer. 

“Wheat beer has been, hands down, our most popular request so far,” Walker said.

By summer, Walker expects to have around a dozen beers on tap with less common flavors like chilis and sours, and hard seltzers as well.

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