DETROIT — Batch Brewing Company hasn’t opened its doors yet, but the brewery is already on the radar of Michigan craft beer fans.
Founded by veteran homebrewer Stephen Roginson, along with partners Jason Williams and Anthony O’Donnell, Batch Brewing Company will be Detroit’s first nanobrewery, specializing in handcrafted beer brewed in small batches of four barrels or less.
Roginson said that the idea for Batch came to him three years ago after he moved from the suburbs to the city of Detroit. Living in a loft with limited brewing space of his own, he originally wanted to create a workspace for homebrewers, and the concept evolved from there.
To help get the business off the ground, Roginson launched a crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo. Fueled by Roginson’s background in marketing and passion for brewing, the campaign was a success, and Batch Brewing raised $25,000.
“It helps when you’re inspired and have a vision,” he said, noting that the money has already gone a long way toward brewing equipment and materials for pilot batches.
Next came the 2013 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest, a competition for entrepreneurs wanting to open a business in the city. Out of more than 200 businesses that entered, Batch Brewing was selected as one of the top 10 finalists. From there, the public voted for their favorite via social media to determine the top four, and Batch garnered enough support to stay in the running. Each of the four finalists had to prove themselves through a “Shark Tank”-style presentation in front of a panel of Hatch Detroit experts, and Batch was declared the winner.
“That was nothing shy of nerve wracking,” said Roginson.
The Hatch Detroit victory came with $50,000 and some valuable perks, including a year of legal and accounting services.
“It has been incredibly collaborative and incredibly positive,” said Roginson.
One of the goals of Hatch Detroit is to help revitalize struggling areas of the city, which is something Roginson hopes to do by opening Batch Brewing in Corktown.
The building, located on Michigan Ave., is a diamond in the rough. It was built between 1890 and 1910, and work is underway to restore the 1,200 square-foot space and preserve the original tin ceiling, tile floors and exposed brick walls. The brewery will join many other new businesses that are breathing new life into the historic neighborhood.
Roginson also plans to have Batch Brewing Company serve as an incubator that will provide guidance to up-and-coming brewers who want to open breweries of their own.
“I’m not going to teach people how to make beer,” said Roginson. “I’m going to teach them how to open a business.”
While recent media reports have suggested that Michigan’s beer industry is reaching a saturation point, Roginson disagrees. He explained that a brewery can be an important asset to a community by increasing foot traffic, which also helps support surrounding businesses.
“Big breweries move numbers; small breweries move communities,” he said.
Batch Brewing Company will also feature guest brewers, art and music events, “Beta Test Thursday” tastings for new releases, and a monthly Feel Good beer to benefit a variety of charities.
“We’ll probably have a half dozen go-to beers,” said Roginson. “Everything else is going to be experimentation.”
So, when will beer lovers be able to try Batch Brewing Company’s beer?
The recent federal government shutdown had temporarily closed the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), meaning that the approval of new breweries, recipes and labels has been delayed. Roginson is still waiting for licensing, but said that his target opening date is Jan. 1, 2014. However, if the building itself isn’t ready by then, beer could still be available sooner off-site at pop-up events, festivals and tap takeovers.
“As soon as we’re licensed, we’ll be selling beer,” said Roginson.
In the meantime, Roginson is working on a few pilot batches: Brown Chicken Brown Ale, Czech 1-2, Simcoe SMaSH and Son of a Batch IPA.
For more information on Batch Brewing Company, visit batchbrewingcompany.com.