The new brewery seeks to celebrate the port town’s vibrant history

North Channel Brewing Company opened the doors to its freshly renovated historic building November 11.

The grand opening was preceded by a soft opening on November 10 that served to celebrate the contractors, sub-contractors, vendors, suppliers, the City of Manistee and everyone who made the brewery possible.

Patrons of the new brewery can imbibe unique craft brews dreamed up by Head Brewer Bill Joslyn, who boasts experience at Oskar Blues Brewery and Schlafly Beer. They can also munch on southern-inspired cuisine from a menu designed by General Manager and Executive Chef Carl Eskridge.

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One of the brewery’s central goals is to add new, inspired flavors to Manistee’s palate. That’s why the menu focuses on barbecue and southern-inspired dishes.

“Carl crafted a menu that was intentionally unique for this area to bring Manistee and the surrounding area something they didn’t already have,” said North Channel Brewing Company Partner Aaron May.

Another tenet is to locally source ingredients as much as possible. Of course, with a menu based in the south, it’s not possible to be 100-percent locally sourced.

“We’ve dabbled with rattlesnake; we have alligator bites on our menu all the time. So, some of that stuff naturally can’t be sourced from here,” May said.

In addition to serving up refreshing brews and spicy cuisine, the brewery is dedicated to showcasing the rich history of Manistee.

“We realized early on the importance of telling the story that existed here and not writing a new story,” May said. “We consider ourselves the story tellers.”

Part of that comes through with the choice to renovate the 100-year-old building North Channel calls home. It used to house Manistee Manufacturing, a furniture company that at one time took up the entire city block it sat on. Several large fires contributed to the company’s downfall. Most recently, the building housed a resale shop. When North Channel decided to move in, it required a lot of repair.

“It took a long time,” May said. “The structure, which we knew would be in rough shape, was even worse than we expected.”

The product of eight months of hard construction, engineering to make the structure sound and renovation is a mix of old and new that gives the space its character.

“It’s this modern yet classic feel that really can’t be replicated,” May said.

May said brewery patrons can look forward to innovative beers and dishes that will defy expectations. As for him, he’s looking forward to more opportunities to celebrate Manistee’s fascinating history.