It makes sense that Phillip Wolff would have chosen an explorer, Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, as the inspiration for the fledgling microbrew operation he runs with Zach Barnhill. Because just as the French explorer visited the Kansas City region and saw plenty of possibility, so too do the two young brewers behind Bourgmont Brewing.
"In city after city, we've never seen an oversaturation of breweries," Wolff says. "We've seen breweries close down for financial reasons. But when a city has more and more breweries, there's a culture increase and more people become interested in beer."
Wolff, 24, and Barnhill, 23, met through a mutual friend back in May. The two Leawood natives geeked out over a mutual love of beer and began brewing at Barnhill's house. Wolff's girlfriend, Meagan Kilgas (who designed and built the sign pictured above and the logo below), has been helping to create the brand around the duo's brews.
"At the very worst, we're going to make some great beer and have some stories to tell," Wolff says. "But competitions are how you get noticed."
They've looked at spaces in the West Bottoms, the Crossroads and just west of 18th Street and Vine. Wolff, who recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with a degree in political science and French, envisions a smaller brewpub space that would have a brewing capacity of anywhere from four to 10 barrels (each barrel is equivalent to roughly 31 gallons) to start out. Bourgmont has begun the license application process.
Money, as always, will be the challenge for the new brewers. Wolff is working as a barista, and Barnhill works in the financial sector. While Wolff is worried about its seeming pretentious, Bourgmont will be producing merchandise, in part to help fund the exploration of opening a brewery.
"Like everything, it's about money," Wolff says. "If we found an angel investor tomorrow, we could be open by the end of the year. But right now, we have a two-year timeline."