Finding a way to stay small and creative amongst growing competition.
Breweries come in all shapes and sizes—some experiment with unconventional ingredients while others focus on specific styles, some only distribute and some intentionally do not distribute. Brewery Ferment in Traverse City recently celebrated its fourth anniversary, and has found a way to stay small and creative amongst growing competition.
Dustin and Kirsten Jones, a unique sibling team, opened Brewery Ferment with a creative and experimental vision. Upon moving back from Chicago, Dustin decided to turn his homebrewing into a small, creative neighborhood brewery. Since opening, their plan and vision has evolved as their business has grown.
“There wasn’t much when we started,” said Dustin. “We never expected to be one of a dozen in such a concentrated area. Now, it’s more than just those from the neighborhood coming in.”
Around the time Brewery Ferment opened, a number of other breweries opened in Traverse City. This led to increased competition, causing Ferment to adapt while also staying true to its individuality and creative flair.
“We are still a boutique brewery. Now, it’s about the education process and experimental beers,” said Kirsten.
True to the boutique style, the taproom is small and eclectic. Hop flowers can be found in the windows, on hand-crafted pillows, and on the tables. The tap handles are made from driftwood, and the atmosphere is very casual, maintaining a neighborhood feel. Kirsten has also designed a number of merchandise items for sale in the taproom, including hop jewelry, sweatshirts, and dresses. Even the snacks are unique—pickled eggs are made in house and come in three different varieties.
Likewise, in their four years, Brewery Ferment has gained a reputation for its unique approach with sour beers. Dustin often draws inspiration from the farmer’s market, searching for items that will bring new flavors and aromas to a brew. Rhubarb, tomatoes, mushrooms, and unique peppers have all found their way into their beers.
And now, Ferment has started bottling select brews in small batches.
“Beer is about having an experience. With bottling, I want to present it in the best possible condition. Bottling creates a different beer,” said Dustin.
The bottles are sealed with wax and a Michigan stamp and are currently available at the taproom. In fact, if you use the bottle on-site, you will save 10% and the bottle can be reused. There are also plans for distribution and monthly special bottle releases.