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Beer that is Out of this World Stainless Brewing: Written by Patti Nickell

So, you’ve heard the joke……. Elon Musk walks into a brewery and asks the owner how much it would cost to send his beer to space.

Very funny, you might think. But for Kevin Pierce, co-owner and brewmaster at Stainless Brewing & Spirits, it was no joke. Seems that the billionaire founder of SpaceX did just that.

“He came in with his IT guy and sat at that table by the window,” says Pierce, indicating a table overlooking St. Clair Street. Eccentric Musk may be, but the man knows a good beer when he tastes one. As a result, you can now find bottles of Pierce’s brew in Musk’s office at SpaceX Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas.

Since glass bottles aren’t exactly fit to launch into space, Pierce is currently working on a drink sac that will safely hold the beer during blast-off.

It’s tempting to ask – after your product has made it to space, what do you do for an encore?

Not to worry. Pierce, who started brewing in his backyard in 2018, is one person who truly believes that the sky isn’t necessarily the limit. Indeed, Pierce’s ingenuity and persistence would likely appeal to Musk almost as much as his beer did.

He needed both qualities as he talks about how his first effort at brew-making wasn’t exactly a resounding success.

“I bought one of those ‘how to make beer’ kits,” he says, adding that his initial try resulted in “the most awful beer I had ever tasted.”

Not one to be discouraged, Pierce persevered, continuing to upgrade his equipment and experiment with different yeasts and grains until he had his first success with a German Double Bock in 2019.

With a little help from his friends (including a co-worker at Republic Services and staff at Whiskey Thief Distillery), he opened his 570-square-foot microbrewery in March, 2023. With the opening, it became the first brewery in Frankfort to offer mead and cider as well as beer.

Pierce currently boasts 27 beers on tap, with the flagship being Double Bock, though it is not currently available as Pierce is refining its recipe to perfection once again. However, if you are looking for something a bit different, consider ordering one of his candy-infused beers, which Pierce says he got his inspiration from by “walking down supermarket candy aisles.”

Believing that “adults should have candy too,” he brews a beer infused with five pounds of Skittles.  Some of his other sweet inspirations include Reese’s Cups, Snickers, Pixie Sticks and Sour Patch Kids.

Pierce says that all 27 of his beers are available in growlers, crowlers and 12-oz. to-go vessels.

Visitors may not be as familiar with mead as they are with beer and cider.  But don’t let that keep you from trying it. A sweet alcoholic beverage, mead has been around since ancient times (it’s the first known alcoholic beverage, pre-dating wine by nearly 3,000 years) and consists of three ingredients: fermented honey, water and yeast. If you are unfamiliar with it, begin your tutelage with Stainless’s Earl Grey or Lavender meads.

Quirky touches abound at the brewery. Touches such as the wildly colorful wall paintings from local artist Shannon Dale Neal. All the paintings serve as models for future beer labels.

Visitors are particularly drawn to the large painting of the brewery mascot, Captain Phineas Star Sailor, who, along with his feline buddy Space Cowboy, travels the galaxy in search of the best beers.

Pierce is quick to point out that – fun-loving and free-spirited as he is – he does have a serious, community-minded side.

All of his employees have a disability they have overcome. Pierce – himself diagnosed with dyslexia – plans to start a program that will help students with ADHD and dyslexia get the tools they need to aid in their development. 

His generosity is apparent in everything from his work with Frankfort’s Fraternal Order of Police and Fraternal Order of Firefighters to his willingness to allow other brewmaster hopefuls to practice at Stainless where he serves as mentor and beer-making coach.

One of the things of which he is most proud is his claim that his business is “almost completely sustainable.”

“We offer our spent grain to everyone from local farmers to the guy who makes our pretzels,” he says.

Pierce takes pride in these accomplishments, and Frankfort echoes that sentiment.