Force Of Friction

Friction Beer Co. Nathan Ryerson and Brent Anderson / Photo Taken By Zach Bauman

Friction Beer Co. (11018 Johnson Dr, Shawnee, KS) isn’t worried about hazy IPAs going out of style. In fact, they only see possibilities.

Friction owners Nathan Ryerson and Brent Anderson were brewing hazy IPAs seven years ago when the genre burst onto the scene. A hazy beer, as the name implies, is a beer with a purposeful cloudy appearance and known for its uber citrusy and aromatic flavor. While they’re considered cheugy, or outdated, by beer nerds, Ryerson and Anderson are sticking by hazies.

Head brewer Ryerson’s Sugalumps hazy IPA packs an intense aromatic and sweet punch. That’s due to Ryerson’s addition of thiolized yeast. This fairly new genetically engineered strain transforms the compounds in malt and hops, creating tropical flavors like guava and grapefruit.

“Up until the last couple months, even the people who make the yeast didn’t even know how it was happening,” Ryerson says. “It was just something that happened.”

Omega Yeast, a leading company in yeast production for craft brewing, has been diligently researching the process behind the flavor-producing agent in thiolized yeast, and the company still has much to learn, it says.

For the two owners, this nebulous space only lends itself towards possibilities, an optimal future for Ryerson’s experimental brewing style.

“I don’t want to brew something traditionally just because that’s the way it’s been done,” Ryerson says.

Like Hazy IPAs and their popularity, Ryerson and Anderson’s journey to downtown Shawnee has been a roller coaster ride. Renovating the historic Hartman Hardware building took two whole years before opening in May. Now the pair is embracing their new community with a menu that offers a little something for everyone. 

Their imperial stouts and west coast pilsners are some of their best sellers. They’re joined by an approachable bourbon program featuring Blanton’s and Four Roses, Coors Light and nonalcoholic beers. But even their hazy IPA selections vary enough to bridge the gap for those who may prefer something less hoppy.

“That’s the thing I love about the style,” says Ryerson. “It’s a good way to have a conversation to get people to open up to what they might like.”

“It’s just more approachable,” adds Anderson. “We’ve converted so many people who say they don’t like IPAs.”

Neither of the owners seem to really care about what’s ‘in’ or ‘out.’ With science on their side, there’s always a new frontier to explore.

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