This is what people do for beer: they go to a job at in southeast Michigan five days a week, and then, they drive across the state to brew beer all weekend. Jim Schwerin has been living this life since 2004. Along with his wife, Laurie, Schwerin co-owns Schmohz Brewing Company in Grand Rapids. Like many breweries, it all started with a dream.
Schwerin and his fellow Michigan Tech friends had a desire for good beer, but were having a difficult time finding what they wanted as they traversed the state to and from school. Years after graduation, Schwerin decided to make this dream of good beer a reality, and purchased the former Robert Thomas Brewery in Grand Rapids. With the support and financial backing of their friends, the Schwerins launched Schmohz in December of 2004. (The name came from the union of the last names and nicknames of the friends from Michigan Tech. “We would come up with all kinds of names during trips to the UP,” Schwerin said. “Schmohz is the one that stuck.”)
They have been serving up tasty beer ever since, most recently under the auspices of head brewer, Gabi Palmer. And as always, Palmer is brewing up goodness, particularly for the upcoming Winter Beer Fest.
“We will have six beers on tap,” Palmer said. “Hopknocker Imperial IPA, Kiss My Scottish Arse, Coconut Crusher Toasted Coconut Stout, Zingiberene Ginger Gruit, Shameless O’Pikey Hooligan Red Ale, and Mint Chocolate Chip Stout. We will also have the Schmohz fire pit to help keep us all warm.”
At the brewpub, Palmer is doing a series of small batch experiments with the mainstay stout, BoneCrusher. The first was the Mint Chocolate Chip (which will be at the Winter Beer Fest). The release schedule for the rest of batches are: Vanilla Bean (February 24), Espresso (March 9), and Chocolate-covered Cherry (March 23).
Next up is the annual Achilles Ale 5k race, which raises money for Special Olympics, will be held on April 16. This July, pending township approval, the brewpub hopes to do a big, one-day Schmohican Fest. Other future plans include a pilot batch of the dark NA beer based on the porter recipe.
Regulars and newcomers will easily find something to enjoy at Schmohz. The biggest sellers—from both newbies and veteran customers—are the Hopknocker Imperial IPA and the Treasure Chest ESB. “Very few breweries make a real, traditional, English-style ESB,” Schwerin said.
The bottom line is to make everyone feel comfortable, something this cozy and inviting brewpub excels at. When someone new comes in, “I encourage them to look over the menu and maybe get a sampler. Or, I find out what they like and then steer them in that direction,” Palmer said.
People go to great lengths for great beer, including big sacrifices and long drives. Keep on truckin’.