Since I’ve lived in the Lansing area, I have found that many of the area’s hidden gems are found in strip malls, which, although may appear not-so-pretty on the outside, can house truly beautiful things.

Vine & Brew in Okemos is one of these places, with its beautifully green walls lined with beer and wine from all over the world — but most importantly, Michigan.

Owners Curt and Leslie Kosal opened the store three years ago, and have been focused on growing their product since day one.

“We saw an opportunity to have a store that featured good beer, wine and food that you might not find in other places,” Curt said, who previously worked as a wine manager at a local grocery store.

“We are constantly sampling new products, seeking out small producers, and listening to our customers about what they are interested in.”

The store is sectioned well by wine, food and of course, craft beer, meads and ciders, all at an affordable price.

“One of the things we’ve done from the beginning is to offer all the beer in the store by the single bottle. We encourage people to try the wide variety of craft beers available, without breaking the bank,” Curt said.

Vine & Brew has hundreds of different bottles to choose from, so there is a great opportunity to try many different beers.

For the holidays, Vine & Brew is featuring custom-made baskets, such as a hop-lover basket and a “bucket o’ Christmas beer.” Not only are their ready-made baskets for pick-up, but you can also pick out your own items for them to create the baskets for you.

Since I’ve lived in the Lansing area, I have found that many of the area’s hidden gems are found in strip malls, which, although may appear not-so-pretty on the outside, can house truly beautiful things.
Vine & Brew in Okemos is one of these places, with its beautifully green walls lined with beer and wine from all over the world — but most importantly, Michigan.
Owners Curt and Leslie Kosal opened the store three years ago, and have been focused on growing their product since day one.
“We saw an opportunity to have a store that featured good beer, wine and food that you might not find in other places,” Curt said, who previously worked as a wine manager at a local grocery store.
“We are constantly sampling new products, seeking out small producers, and listening to our customers about what they are interested in.”
The store is sectioned well by wine, food and of course, craft beer, meads and ciders, all at an affordable price.
“One of the things we’ve done from the beginning is to offer all the beer in the store by the single bottle. We encourage people to try the wide variety of craft beers available, without breaking the bank,” Curt said.
Vine & Brew has hundreds of different bottles to choose from, so there is a great opportunity to try many different beers.
For the holidays, Vine & Brew is featuring custom-made baskets, such as a hop-lover basket and a “bucket o’ Christmas beer.” Not only are their ready-made baskets for pick-up, but you can also pick out your own items for them to create the baskets for you.

DEARBORN — Don’t let the name fool you. Merchant’s Fine Wine has lots of love for the craft beer crowd.
The store is located at 22250 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, and to say it offers a vast selection would be an understatement. According to beer manager Annette May, customers have around 1,300 different beers to choose from.
“It’s a huge store,” said May. “Its enormous, and almost half the store is beer.”
With May at the helm of the beer department, customers are in excellent hands. May is a certified cicerone — the first woman in the U.S. to attain the title — and has spent more than two decades working in the beer business. She provides customers with top-notch advice on selecting, pairing, serving and storing their purchases. She also frequently answers customers’ questions by phone and email.
“People are always looking for recommendations,” she said. “I’m going to try to find out what they like to drink, and sometimes encourage them to try something they’ve never tried.”
May noted that she tries to recommend beers that are aligned with each customer’s individual taste rather than beers that are highly rated. And if someone is looking for a gift, especially during the holiday season, she might point them toward something that not only tastes great, but has beautiful packaging, too.
“We have a lot of Christmas beers. A lot of great Belgian Christmas beers,” she said.
The beer department is arranged alphabetically so that customers can easily find what they’re looking for. In addition, there’s a cider and meads aisle; a gluten-free and organic aisle; and an expanded single-bottle section. The store’s make-your-own six pack option is especially popular, and bottles are individually priced so customers can mix and match anything that’s in stock. Draft beer is also a huge seller, and staff are readily available to assist with customers’ keg and tapping questions.
May emphasized that at Merchant’s Fine Wine, great care is taken to ensure stock is rotated and fresh.
“Being a cicerone and having such a large inventory, I’m really conscious of fresh beer,” she said. “I want to make sure they’re as fresh as possible. People are starting to realize that fresh beer is good.”
In addition, May is happy to offer customers tips on how to properly store and serve beer at home. Sometimes, she’ll even give them a quick history lesson on their chosen beer.
“I’m trying to teach people where it comes from,” she said, adding that customers can learn even more at the store’s beer education classes.
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit merchantsfinewine.com or email beer@merchantsfinewine.com.

DEARBORN — Don’t let the name fool you. Merchant’s Fine Wine has lots of love for the craft beer crowd.

The store is located at 22250 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn, and to say it offers a vast selection would be an understatement. According to beer manager Annette May, customers have around 1,300 different beers to choose from.

“It’s a huge store,” said May. “Its enormous, and almost half the store is beer.”

With May at the helm of the beer department, customers are in excellent hands. May is a certified cicerone — the first woman in the U.S. to attain the title — and has spent more than two decades working in the beer business. She provides customers with top-notch advice on selecting, pairing, serving and storing their purchases. She also frequently answers customers’ questions by phone and email.

“People are always looking for recommendations,” she said. “I’m going to try to find out what they like to drink, and sometimes encourage them to try something they’ve never tried.”

May noted that she tries to recommend beers that are aligned with each customer’s individual taste rather than beers that are highly rated. And if someone is looking for a gift, especially during the holiday season, she might point them toward something that not only tastes great, but has beautiful packaging, too.

“We have a lot of Christmas beers. A lot of great Belgian Christmas beers,” she said.

The beer department is arranged alphabetically so that customers can easily find what they’re looking for. In addition, there’s a cider and meads aisle; a gluten-free and organic aisle; and an expanded single-bottle section. The store’s make-your-own six pack option is especially popular, and bottles are individually priced so customers can mix and match anything that’s in stock. Draft beer is also a huge seller, and staff are readily available to assist with customers’ keg and tapping questions.

May emphasized that at Merchant’s Fine Wine, great care is taken to ensure stock is rotated and fresh.

“Being a cicerone and having such a large inventory, I’m really conscious of fresh beer,” she said. “I want to make sure they’re as fresh as possible. People are starting to realize that fresh beer is good.”

In addition, May is happy to offer customers tips on how to properly store and serve beer at home. Sometimes, she’ll even give them a quick history lesson on their chosen beer.

“I’m trying to teach people where it comes from,” she said, adding that customers can learn even more at the store’s beer education classes.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit merchantsfinewine.com or email beer@merchantsfinewine.com.

KALAMAZOO — In a time where beer and spirits are the growing trend, it takes something more than just selling to become a worthwhile bottle shop stop. That is why Salut promises so much more.

“People can go anywhere for beer,” says owner Joe Snyder. “What sets us apart from competitors is our exceptional customer service.”

Indeed, one can read it right in the bold print of Salut’s Mission, which not only promises service, but also quality product, cost savings and fair pricing as well. These notions were learned well by Snyder, a Business graduate from Western Michigan University who worked in surrounding beer and spirits venues before opening his own.

In an area as well-versed in the industry as Kalamazoo, Salut and its workers invite customers to learn as well as offer their own input. “Customers are very knowledgeable in this area of the state, [and] also very open-minded. So we make sure to steer customers who need help experiencing new ventures,” says Snyder.

New ventures such as the first bottle distribution of Perrin’s Killing Craft series, an imperial stout and a barley wine, both aged in bourbon barrels — “very exciting!” says Snyder.

For those who may be visiting Kalamazoo or for those not as familiar with the industry, Salut caters to everyone. Besides offering premier service in-store, its website keeps a growing “learn” section which gives readers tips and tricks for growing a beer and spirits knowledge-base. What’s a punt and why do wine bottles have it? Where is the Puglia region in Italy? Does Vodka age? Salut will tell you!

In addition to talking with customers the latest in beer, liquor, wine and cigar products, Salut also offers monthly wine tastings. During Kalamazoo Beer Week (Jan. 10-17), Salut will also be  hosting different beer sampling events daily.

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Photo: Courtesy of Bell’s Brewery

GRAND RAPIDS — Siciliano’s just is, and always seems to have been. Many people will agree with that. One of West Michigan’s longstanding and premier bottleshop and homebrew supply spots, you can walk in and easily see why so many call this place home.
Doug Dorda, Homebrew Specialist and wearer of many other hats, shares what draws folks in and what keeps him there.
“A glorified interpretation of what we do could be ‘Purveyors of Passion. Fermented Passion.'”
A longtime customer and an employee for six years, Dorda knows the store and his customers well. In fact, any of the staff — and often that staff is Barb or Steve Siciliano, the owners of the market — know their clientele and know their merchandise.
“You can saddle up to the counter and talk with people, people who know the product, and give you not just a scripted answer from the back of a bottle, but a full answer. ‘Oh yeah, I’ve had X last week and I drank it with this, I really liked so and so because…’  [Our employees] are really passionate people,” said Dorda.
Walk in and enjoy the sight. Liquors align back counter shelves, beer is, well, everywhere. There is plenty of wine for your more sophisticated types and even loose leaf teas as well. Homebrewing and wine-making supplies are available in abundance, with the skilled staff to help you with your purchase.  Enjoy the mom and pop environment Dorda describes, smile at Steve Siciliano when you stop in, and share your beer love too.
“I love coming here just as much as our customers. When other people come in I can get their opinion on something too. We all just feed on one another,” said Dorda.
“We are all part of this weird, magical thing that’s happening all around us, and [Siciliano’s] is one of the places where people come to talk and enjoy it.”

GRAND RAPIDS — Siciliano’s just is, and always seems to have been. Many people will agree with that. One of West Michigan’s longstanding and premier bottleshop and homebrew supply spots, you can walk in and easily see why so many call this place home.

Doug Dorda, Homebrew Specialist and wearer of many other hats, shares what draws folks in and what keeps him there.

“A glorified interpretation of what we do could be ‘Purveyors of Passion. Fermented Passion.'”

A longtime customer and an employee for six years, Dorda knows the store and his customers well. In fact, any of the staff — and often that staff is Barb or Steve Siciliano, the owners of the market — know their clientele and know their merchandise.

“You can saddle up to the counter and talk with people, people who know the product, and give you not just a scripted answer from the back of a bottle, but a full answer. ‘Oh yeah, I’ve had X last week and I drank it with this, I really liked so and so because…’  [Our employees] are really passionate people,” said Dorda.

Walk in and enjoy the sight. Liquors align back counter shelves, beer is, well, everywhere. There is plenty of wine for your more sophisticated types and even loose leaf teas as well. Homebrewing and wine-making supplies are available in abundance, with the skilled staff to help you with your purchase.  Enjoy the mom and pop environment Dorda describes, smile at Steve Siciliano when you stop in, and share your beer love too.

“I love coming here just as much as our customers. When other people come in I can get their opinion on something too. We all just feed on one another,” said Dorda.

“We are all part of this weird, magical thing that’s happening all around us, and [Siciliano’s] is one of the places where people come to talk and enjoy it.”

Nestled between college town and the state capitol, Oades Big Ten Party Store keeps Lansing craft beer fanatics from going thirsty.

Oades Big Ten, along with the East Lansing Big Ten party store, opened in 1991 shortly followed by the Okemos, and then later, the Holt locations. By the time that Oades Big Ten general manager, Kevin Albery, began as a clerk in 2000, the store was already well known for their wall of beer.

“As far as I know, we have been selling individual bottles for as long as we have been selling microbrews,” Albery said.

That wall of beer currently holds between 600 and 700 different varieties of craft beer, spilling over to another wall of ciders. Oades Big Ten also carries a sizable wine selection and the largest liquor assortment in the area.

“We’ve accommodated the craft beer boom by staying true to our original business plan for this location, carrying as much of the product that’s available to us as possible,” Albery said.

Even with a recent addition of extra coolers, the physical space of the store limits the products available; however, the store has combatted their space limitations by adding presale or reservation lists for highly limited products.

“We don’t feel that it’s fair to sell Founders KBS or Bell’s Black Note on a first come, first serve basis, so we allow our customers to sign up and have an allocation of these beers held for them for a few days,” Albery noted.

The store makes an effort to accommodate their customers and fulfill special orders whenever they can, from orders of cases to preorders of certain seasonal varieties.

Despite Lansing not being a home to many craft breweries, the help of Oades Big Ten, as well as other area businesses, help keep the Lansing area craft beer industry strong.

Whether you’re gifting craft beer this season, or just need something to get through the winter, you won’t be disappointed with Oades Big Ten’s selection. Make your own 6-pack for a 10% discount, or grab a quick 4-pack for a 5% discount. Visit them online for more specials at bigtenpartystores.com.

 


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