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Lincoln's newest brewery has been delivering the goods for weeks to more than a dozen taverns in Lincoln and Omaha. 

Now it's time for Zipline Brewery Co. to open its taproom at 2100 Magnum Circle for a pint or a growler of what is expected to become lots of brews.

You can see the 32-foot silo as you drive U.S. 77 north near where it joins Interstate 80 west of Lincoln.  

The three guys who own the gleaming stainless steel brewing operation have been getting this together for more than a year, and they are opening Friday as the craft brewing movement has come to a landmark known to few: Marcus Powers, head brewer and chief of operations, says he thinks the United States has more than 2,000 breweries now, and in 2012, probably passed the number there were before Prohibition shut down all the old local and regional favorites nationwide.

The reception for Zipline's Oatmeal Porter, New Zealand India Pale Ale and Copper Alt has been all they hoped for.  "It's been amazing so far," Powers said.  

"We'll have a bunch," he said of their plans for variety.   "I'd like to do a dozen to 18 beers in a year, different kinds, rotating, seasonals."

Powers once was an environmental attorney for the state, but he's been a full-time brewer, builder and bathroom cleaner for more than a year.  His partners are Tom Wilmoth, an attorney,  and James Gallentine, an orthopedic surgeon,  

"They help," Powers said.  "Tom brews with me once a week.  They do it to get away from their jobs; I do it because it is my job."

Powers, a native of Plainview, drank his first brew --  like a lot of Nebraska kids with a taste for adventure -- when he was a teenager.   But he was a year or two into college when he first tried the custom-made varieties that have revived people's taste for something other than plain old mass-produced light lager. 

"I went pretty much head over heels on craft beers," he said.  "I started out with the commercially known ones, like Sam Adams and Sierra." 

Now he and other passionate beer drinkers are moving on to those fermented with wild yeast and priced like wine. 

Of those 2,000-plus U.S. breweries, 95 percent are craft breweries, and they make about 5 percent of the beer, Powers said.   "It makes some sense when you think of the Depression that followed prohibition," he said.  "People couldn't afford more expensive local beers. The bigger brewers made it with corn and rice,  and it was cheaper."

The way the three partners graduated from home brewing, practiced by lots of devoted amateurs,  to commercial craft brewing was this:  "We were all playing softball, (and) we were all home brewers," Powers said. "James got it in his head to start a microbrewery. He got Tom involved. They met with me, and I thought it was a risky venture. I said thanks but no thanks." 

Then Tom and James went to a conference in Chicago.

"They were both drunk on brewery Kool-Aid," he said.  A year ago they made Powers a proposition he swallowed.  "I left my job and started building this place, designing the equipment, working with architects and contractors." It's been a crazy year, he said, not to mention the new baby. 

The Zipline name came from a backyard accident in which James's son broke his arm.

"So I guess it was an ongoing punchline," Powers said.  A friend assessing the risk thought they should call it Zipline. 

"We kind of all had the exhilaration of taking a risk," he said.  "We ran with it.   Plus there are no breweries out there with a Z.  

"Our main message is, we wanted to start a brewery and make really good beer," Powers said. "We want people to talk about our beer.  We really are about brave new brew, new kinds of beer."

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Reach Richard Piersol at 402-473-7241 or dpiersol@journalstar.com

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