"This is what we got from 60 pounds of organic raspberries and three hours with a juicer," he says. "Our first juicer broke, so we just fired up the spare. This is for a glutenless raspberry brew we're working on."
These are the chances you can take when you're a two-man brewing operation.
Just eight months ago, Collins, 32, and Kipp Feldt, 37, were standing in this same spot, staring at a Volkswagen Beetle that had taken up a permanent parking spot on the concrete floor. On their search for a place to make beer, the business partners had come to what was then a disused warehouse in an industrial section of North Kansas City, a place geared for processing metal, not malt. They'd found the future home of Big Rip Brewing Co., which had its grand opening this past weekend as a stop on the Tour de Brew.
In 2012, Feldt brewed the beer for Collins' wedding. Collins made the wine. "We were talking, and we just realized how great it would be to do this on a large scale," Collins says.
The scales tipped in favor of the old warehouse, at 216 East Ninth Avenue, when the duo found out that Kansas City SmokeShack BBQ would open at 900 Swift Avenue, a space in the same building that faces the corner where Ninth meets Swift.
"We're a long way from having nine beers," Collins admits. "But we've been letting people follow us throughout the process, so it only seemed right to open as we're still getting going."
Wood shelves are arranged to hold engraved mugs for the founders (those who contributed $500 to support the fledgling brewery) and Mug Club members (regulars entitled, for $50, to special tappings and larger pours). Collins notes a chalkboard to one side of the bar, ready to list Big Rip's brewing schedule.
The brewery is behind a simple wooden door next to the blackboard. It's a heartening mix of home-brewer ingenuity and gleaming metal, outfitted with three two-barrel kettles capable of making four to six kegs of beer at a time. The kettles in which the beer is brewed are chilled by a system that resides inside an Igloo cooler. The cold room - where the kegs are stored and beer is conditioned (the suspended yeast settles to the bottom of the tank, allowing the beer to clear) - is kept frigid by a window air conditioner. The nine taps are on the other side of the wall from a Kenmore Elite freezer, which has been reborn as a keg cooler with nine tap lines.
On a recent Friday morning in May, Collins walks between the three brew kettles (christened Ripley, Ash and Mulder, a nod to characters familiar to sci-fi fans) as he explains what's coming up: a coffee porter and a vanilla-cream ale, with plans for a cherry hefeweizen, a sweet brown ale and a pale ale. He points to the middle kettle, near a wooden sign that lists beer styles by color, and suggests that it may be retired in the future and used to cask wine.
"We decided to focus on beer initially," Collins says. "But we'd like to move toward wine in the future."
With that in mind, Big Rip Brewing Co. has nine separate permits, including a 22 Percent Manufacturer Solicitor License, which allows the brewery to make beer and wine with an alcohol content of up to 22 percent by volume.
The brewery's name is drawn from the theoretical alternative to the big bang, which centers on the idea of an infinitely expanding universe.
"The zombie apocalypse isn't going to happen," Collins says. "It's our way of telling people to lighten up and enjoy their life."
Big Rip's own expansion plans are a bit more finite. Over time, Collins hopes to add picnic tables outside and schedule regular tours to help people realize what's brewing in North Kansas City.
"We can do a lot of experimental batches with really expensive ingredients," he says. "We want to take people on a journey."