When Trevor Doublestein talks about creating a brewery that promotes community, he backs up his words with action.
During a busy Friday evening happy hour for GR Beer Week, Doublestein, co-owner of the new Our Brewing Company in downtown Holland, isn’t tucked away in some office joking with staff or surfing the Internet.
Instead, sporting a black Grand Rapids Beer Week T-shirt, dark designer glasses and a tan beanie, he is relaxing at a table with patrons enjoying their beers in a deep, open space complete with tall ceilings and flanked by exposed brick.
For Doublestein, it’s the way a brewery should be — crazy, communal and fun to be at — with a strong foundation of positive service.
“We wanted it to be like a living room,” he said. “It’s a cool thing to see that communal thing happening.”
The best part is Our Brewing Company, located just a few doors down from New Holland Brewery, has not even reached its full potential, according to Doublestein. Since a soft opening in early November, the brewery has only been open for two or three days a week at a time.
The problem was too much demand for beers ranging from The Belgian Exchange Student to the Glazed Donut Cream Ale. Our Brewing Company went through 15 kegs in 14 hours on its opening weekend, which caused Doublestein to close down for two weekends to build inventory and order a larger brewing system.
“We were upgrading the second day we were open,” he said.
Doublestein said they reopened on Fridays and Saturdays only, added Sunday in January and will add Thursdays beginning this week. They hope to have the new brewing equipment by the end of February and be open seven days a week as soon as possible.
Building on the communal theme, he also plans to reach out to home brewers, giving Our Brewing Company patrons a chance to vote on the best homebrews each month. The winner can then watch their brew being made at the brewery and host their own release party when the beer is complete.
Before running the day-to-day operations of Our Brewing Company, Doublestein was in a family construction business in Petoskey. It was never a love of his, however, despite having skills in that area.
When the economy turned and the construction business became even more stressful, he turned to homebrewing as an outlet. He said it was nice people didn’t critique his work for once. People just enjoyed his beer.
Doublestein was an avid mountain biker and after a hard ride with friends he would share his latest homebrew creations with them. The comparisons started flowing and he got ideas.
“(My friends would say) that’s so much better than such and such,” Doublestein recalls.
He and wife decided to “just go for it,” relocating to the Holland area and opening Our Brewing Company with a co-owner and head brewer.
Our Brewing Company is intentionally smaller so it can adapt to the needs of the customers and the owners, Doublestein said. As a result, they have featured more than 50 different beers since early November, many of which have been requested again and again by customers.
Some of the notable beers on tap were the Careless Whisper — an IPA with a medium body, citrusy tones and smooth finish — the Ron Burgundy — a darker beer described as a “hoppy Scottish red” — and the Daybreak American Amber Ale — which at 7% ABV is “a little big” for an amber ale.
“We like making our beers big,” Doublestein said with a smile. “It’s the American way.”
Doublestein said Our Brewing Company is especially interested in stouts, Belgians, porters and beers made with candies and chocolate. Later this year they plan to introduce teas into their beers as well as brew big Belgians and big IPAs.
“(The big IPA) will be way too hoppy for most people,” he said.
Looking into the future, Doublestein said Our Brewing Company will strive to strike a balance between the interests of customers and the expertise of staff.
“We like to make what the people want and what we want,” he said.