washtenaw county

Washtenaw County is blessed with many things—beautiful downtowns, spacious parks, green space, and a wide variety of brewpubs for our drinking pleasure. This article will examine the six non-Ann Arbor pubs—Chelsea Alehouse, Original Gravity, Ypsi Alehouse, Arbor Brewing Company Microbrewery (the Corner), Salt Springs, and Stony Lake Brewing Company (I’m including Jolly Pumpkin in part two, don’t worry!)

To keep things organized, I looked at six different factors

  • The standout beer (very subjective, of course)
  • The noise level (standard: could you have a first date here and hear the person?)
  • Overall comfort (things like whether the bathrooms are clean, variety of places to sit, friendly bartenders, would I wear my jeans that ripped over the summer but hey the 90s are back or would I put on something nicer)
  • Food (not rated for taste necessarily—just what they have)
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.)
  • The beer a newbie craft beer drinker should have—in other words, what would my dad get?

Note that I visited these brewpubs over the span of several weeks and beer selections may have changed. Similarly, the noise level may differ depending on when you go.

 

Chelsea Alehouse:

  • Standout Beer: The Holz Hausen Smoked Porter. Brewed with cherry wood smoked malt, this robust porter hits the drinker with smoke and then mellows into a rich porter. If this were a song, it would be a jazz standard sung in a jazz bar before the Michigan smoking ban.
  • Noise Level: At midday on a sunny Saturday, the brewpub had a lot of people in it but managed not to be extremely noisy so one could comfortably have met a first date here or had a business meeting. My friend and I went outside and there were only two other people there so it was perfect for us to shoot the breeze.
  • Overall Comfort: Short wait to get bartenders’ attention, bathrooms very clean, lots of booths and spots at the bar along with delightful outdoor patio. Air conditioning level optimal. Ripped jeans would be fine but so would a skirt or dress.
  • Food: Variety of appetizers, sandwiches, with a couple of entrees and salads. The soft pretzels come straight from the Chelsea Bakery and pair nicely with the pub cheese.
  • Special Events: First and third Tuesdays feature trivia, the bluegrass band Thunderwude plays on Wednesdays, live music on Fridays, Sundays feature Celtic jam sessions, live jazz or a song circle where one can enjoy local musicians or join in and play along with them!
  • Newbie Beer: Session IPA. Many newcomers to craft beer gravitate to IPAs, and this session beer has a lower ABV (4.5%) that offers the drinker just enough hoppiness with low alcohol.  My dad would drink this with only a small grimace, asking again about why this place doesn’t have Miller.

 

Original Gravity Brewing Company:

  • Standout Beer: 440 Pepper Smoker. The first smoked beer I ever had and still one of the best. Its base is an amber ale made with smoked German malt. Jalapenos are added at various stages in the brewing process giving this beer the perfect amount of heat.
  • Noise Level: On the day that I went, it was the OG anniversary party so the inside and outside patio were packed. The noise level varies, with the pub being very crowded during special events (e.g. we haven’t been able to get into the Ugly Sweater/Christmas Vacation party at least twice) to very mellow around happy hour.
  • Overall Comfort: Assortment of small and large tables, nice bar top, even a couple of recliners back by the video game console. Bathrooms always very clean. Bartenders have never been anything less than friendly and attentive. TVs above the bar and a screen in the back for when they show movies. The ripped jeans would be fine.
  • Food: Sandwiches, snacks, also Sprecher soda on tap and Calder Dairy ice cream
  • Special Events: On Wednesdays you can find the Original Gravity Farmer’s Market featuring Zilke Vegetable Farms. Thursdays have Sporacle Live trivia and there is live music on Fridays during the summer months.
  • Newbie Beer: If it’s on tap, have your friend (or dad) try the Eazy-Duz-It IPA. It’s 4.8% so on the low side as far as craft beer goes but very easy drinking (as the name implies). I think of this beer as a lawnmower beer and I think even Dad would agree that he might have been able to drink one of these back in his mowing days. (He’d still be muttering about Miller though)

 

Stony Lake Brewing Company:

  • Standout Beer: Ole 50 Weight. What a Russian Imperial Stout should be—rich, thick, dark and brimming with chocolate yumminess.
  • Noise Level: Perfect to have a conversation with my husband.
  • Overall Comfort: Clean, friendly, would feel comfortable going in any time. We sat at the bar, but the tables looked nice. There were some outdoor tables as well.
  • Food: Carry in or order out; sometimes have food trucks on site.
  • Special Events: Live music and food trucks!
  • Newbie Beer: Working Man. A blonde ale with some hop profile that my dad would enjoy and manage to find all of the other UAW retirees in the immediate vicinity, instantly making friends with them all.

 

Salt Springs Brewery:

  • Standout beer: Oktoberfest. Perfectly to style and malty as all get out, this is the beer for me!
  • Noise level: It’s been noisy and crowded every time I have been there, which is good! Can make it a little hard to hear your date, so sit at the bar.
  • Overall Comfort: Absolutely gorgeous space! The attention to detail is second to none—just lovely! Everything is clean and sparkling. Much more restaurant aesthetic. The ripped jeans would have to live in the drawer with their tracksuit friends.
  • Food: Okay I know I said I wasn’t rating for taste but the food here is incredible. Full lunch and dinner menu includes poutine, truffle fries, flatbread pizzas, strip steak, sandwiches and desserts. I would put this up against most non-brewpub restaurants.
  • Special Events: Live music in the Biergarten on most Friday nights, Sporacle trivia on Thursdays, monthly Brushes & Brews (painting lessons by local aritsts)
  • Newbie Beer: The Kick Axe Kolsch. Light touch of honey and bit of hops in this crisp beer. My dad would start googling “Kolsch” in his phone at this point, possibly complaining that the phone I gave him doesn’t work right (it does, he’s just not on the wi-fi)
washtenaw county

Salt Springs Brewery

 

ABC Microbrewery/Corner:

  • Standout Beer: Will always be Espresso Love. The first coffee stout that I drank and still one of my favorites.
  • Noise Level: The beer garden is almost always a comfortable place to hang out and chat with, say, your new beau or new friend. Inside can get noisy, especially when there is live music playing.
  • Overall Comfort: The bartenders here are top notch but I may be biased since I know many of them. My ripped jeans would fit in perfectly as would most anything you show up in. While I do miss the couches and mismatches tables and chairs from the old days, I still enjoy sitting by the fireplace. There are games and books, too.
  • Food: The absolute best sandwich ever to ever exist is the TeacherPatti House Reuben—ha ha, just kidding. It is a good sandwich though. Since the kitchen makeover of a few years ago, the food game was upped quite a bit. Now in addition to the amazing Reuben, you can enjoy other sandwiches named after patrons (such as the IP-Amy’s Onion Rings and Archie’s Hog-Gobbler Club) along with salads, burgers, entrees, and pizza.
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.): live music on Mondays, live trivia on Wednesdays plus various weekend events
  • Newbie Beer: I imagine we’d start my dad on the Bollywood Blonde, a refreshing beer with a nice hint of orange to it. At this point, my dad would be more open to trying new beers and probably not notice the higher ABV and would now be making friends with people at the bar, showing them what his Smart Phone can do. He would also be sharing his vast trivia knowledge with our fellow patrons, whether they want him to or not.

 

Ypsilanti Ale House:

  • Standout Beer: Blue Racer. This honeywheat beer is made with all Michigan grown ingredients—blueberries, honey, wheat, barley, hops. Some fruit beers can get too heavy and syrupy and forget their base beer but not this one.
  • Noise Level: The main room is a pleasant level and there is also a smaller room one can go into for more intimate conversations. Music sounds great in here!
  • Overall Comfort: Clean and comfortable, very nice and experienced bartenders, would be comfortable in my jeans or a dressier outfit.
  • Food: A nice variety of bar snacks, burgers, sandwiches, small plates
  • Special Events (music, trivia, etc.): Dart league on Wednesdays, live music on Sundays (bluegrass, Irish jam), trivia on Sundays is paired with a weekly dinner special!
  • Newbie Beer: Pottawatomi Trail Ale. This light session pale ale has local hops and is low enough in ABV such that one can drink several. My dad has now purchased the bar. We all go home happy.

 

So as you can see, no matter where you go you will find friendly people and great beer! Come on down to the Washtenaw county and check it out!

 

city built brewing

As they finish their third month of being open to the public, we checked in with City Built Brewing Company to see what they have learned along the way.

Though the brewery had been slated to open in September 2016, it actually became open to the public in May 2017. Brewery Co-Owner Edwin Collazo doesn’t see that as a failure.

city built brewing

Edwin Collazo

“I think we had a really strong opening because we had lots of time to prepare and change our minds, and change our minds, and change our minds again. In hindsight, it was a blessing,” Collazo said.

City Built is located in Grand Rapids. It occupies 6,800 square feet at 820 Monroe Ave, just north of the Sixth Street Bridge–an iconic structure in Grand Rapids. City Built is owned by Collazo, the brewery’s general manager, and Dave Petroelje, chief brew officer. The two have over 25 years combined brewing experience. Petroelje is accompanied in the brew house by Rob Qualls, a seasoned homebrewer who used to work in a local home brew shop.

The largest change Collazo and Petroelje have made is that they are now open on Tuesdays and have Happy Hour specials. From now on, guests can celebrate “Taco Tuesday” at City Built. Additionally, they tweaked their hours a bit to make them less confusing. City Built is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11am-11pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-12pm and Sundays 12pm-10pm. Happy Hour is during the week from 3pm-6pm, offering $2 cream ales, $2 off all full pours, 50% off drinks for lifetime members of City Built’s mug club, and a special Happy Hour food menu.

Collazo and Petroelje consider City Built a restaurant first—one that just happens to also make beer. They serve Puerto Rican-inspired food, beer brewed in-house, locally made mead, cider, wine, and pop.  

city built brewing

Dave Petroelje

Speaking of the menu, Collazo is fully aware that tacos are not a Puerto Rican thing. Collazo is, in fact, Puerto Rican. Sometimes, he said, he’s too Puerto Rican for his own good.

“I have never been accused of not being Puerto Rican enough. If my grandma walked in, she would ask what did you do with the food?” said Collazo.

Tacos and tortas are on City Built’s menu, two things that traditionally are not found on the Puerto Rican dinner table. Collazo’s wife Karen is the mastermind behind the menu. Though not Puerto Rican herself, Karen Collazo spent many hours learning from Edwin Collazo’s uncle, aunt, and sister on what Puerto Rican food is and how to prepare it. The menu at City Built is a combination of what she learned, the ingredients we have available in West Michigan, and her own Dutch twist.

The Bori Balls, for instance, were created by having leftover rice—and in the Dutch culture, nothing should ever go to waste.

City Built Executive Head Chef Elizabeth Ebel and Sous Chef Kyle Murray have taken the base flavors Karen Collazo learned and freshened them up.

“It is really a Puerto Rican-inspired flavor in a very familiar vessel in West Michigan,” said Collazo. “I wanted to open a place where Hispanics could come to in a nice part of town. I knew that if we had it they would come. They are coming. For the most part, it has been really positive. They dig it.”

City Built was made to be a home away from home, allowing guests to use the taproom how they want to—including families with children.

city built brewing

“We both have kids, and we would like to bring our family out. It isn’t as prevalent in the U.S. that people bring their families to the brewery.” Petroelje said.

Petroelje believes that allowing people to bring their children helps encourage a better drinking culture. City Built doesn’t have a lot of high-ABV beer. It is a place where one can enjoy a couple beers and still get themselves and their family safely home. Just like there are plenty of beverages for adults to enjoy at City Built, there is also a kid’s corner overflowing with kid activities. There is also a kid’s food menu.

City Built is all about showing the love for craft beer by making the strange become the familiar, and the familiar fresh and bold, while making their beer with strength through diversity.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

beards brewery

The first time I ventured out to Beards, I nearly missed it driving through downtown Petoskey. The sign was relatively small on an easy-to-miss building. The brewery itself was tucked in the back of a building, down a stone path in what looked like an enclosed outdoor space. The taproom was small, cozy, full of board games, and a record player was playing in the background. It felt like a secret you only wanted your good friends to know about.

Fast-forward five years, and Beards has become a staple in the Petoskey community. Now on the corner of US-31 and Lake Street, the brewery resides in the former Whitecaps building and is one of the first things you encounter as you enter downtown.

beards brewery

And while the space is larger, feels more expansive, and has extraordinary views, it maintains a similar atmosphere as the original space.

“We wanted to keep as much of the old place as we could,” said Ben Slocum, Beards co-founder.

Upon entering, a stone path that pays tribute to the original guides you to the taproom surrounded in natural elements. And, if you look closely, you might be able to spot the original bar and large Beards logo.

At the same time, the new space on Lake Street feels more “grown-up” with intimate booths, more community tables, and a grand staircase. There’s also an opportunity to escape upstairs to a more intimate space, where the board games and vinyl records can still be found.

The move from a small, intimate space to a large, inviting one exemplifies Beards five-year journey. Starting on a one-barrel brewing system, Beards had a humble beginning. Word spread quickly about the excellent beer and atmosphere, and after just two years, a 4,000 square foot production facility was opened in Charlevoix. The production facility contains a 15-barrel system and has allowed Beards to expand its production and distribution.

“We sold more on July 2 than we did during all of our winter months combined,” said Slocum, referencing their continuous growth and expansion.

Beards is now canning and can now be found throughout Northern Michigan, the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids area, and throughout Wayne County. Recently, Beards released its first bomber: Gin Barrel Aged Luna.

beards brewery

And now that the brewery has taken over an old restaurant and has more space, it also features a full food menu. As much as possible is made in house, from brat buns to braised lamb shank, which compliments everything Beards has become known for.

“We craft beer, why not craft food?” said Slocum.

Beards will officially be celebrating its five years of success from August 17-19; the new taproom is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11a.m. to midnight.

 

tripelroot

As they appraoch three years of business, Tripelroot, Zeeland’s first and only brewpub, is maintaining a focus on crafting an experience that is simple, sustainable, and social.
The space was designed using only three materials: brick, wood, and metal. Same goes for the menu, which exclusively offers stonebreads, appetizers, and salads.
The pub was developed and is consciously maintained to be sustainable through constant efforts to reuse, recycle, and repurpose.
The folks at Tripelroot love to pair good beer with great company, and the atmosphere of the pub reflects that mentality by fostering a social experience for the community.
Until recently, the space was previously uninhabited for nearly a decade. Now it’s home to Zeeland’s only brewpub—and in February, they were approved to double in size by moving into the adjacent building.
We decided to pay Laura Gentry a visit to ask some questions about the budding brewpub and their plans for the future.
 
tripelroot
 
Tripelroot is Zeeland’s only brewpub. When you opened in 2014, were you looking to fill a hole in the market, or were you inspired by something more personal?
I’d say a little bit of both! Even though we didn’t grow up in Zeeland, we fell in love with its quaint hometown feel as soon as we arrived. It was close to home, close to work, and it offered a great environment to raise a family.
So we knew we loved the people, and we knew those people were in need of a place to gather and share great beer. On top of that, we had always dreamt of opening our own brewpub. The pieces seemed to fit together so we had to go for it.
 
What was the inspiration for the name, Tripelroot?
The idea for the name was supposed to reflect two aspects. First, we wanted a subtle beer reference with a nod to the Belgian Tripel. The second half, “root”, eludes to stability and a source of life for plants…a fitting reference for how we see ourselves in this community.
 
Zeeland was “dry” until 2006. With a town that has been relatively slow to develop its dining options, how do you think Tripelroot has affected the community?
It has been amazing watching the town transform in recent years. Although we can’t take credit for all the change, we’re happy to say Tripelroot has become a centerpiece of the community.
When we moved here, downtown was empty after 5 o’clock. Now, people have difficulty finding a parking space on weekdays.
 
Sounds like a good problem to have! So you were approved for expansion in February. What are your plans for the new space?
Yes! We are very excited about the new space, which opened around Memorial Day this year. With the beer garden, our capacity is approximately 100 people, which often isn’t enough on our busy nights. So when the space next door opened up, we jumped on the opportunity to expand. We’re excited to say we already have 15-20 private events booked for for 2017 as well as overflow space for the busy evenings.
tripelroot
 
What hurdles have you been dealing with in the first two years of business?
Great question. I definitely think the city of Zeeland recognized that the town needed places like Tripelroot. In the beginning, however, the city required us to meet 60% food sales. With beer being our main product, we had to collaborate with the city to better align their expectations with those of the state.
Another one of our biggest challenges has been keeping up with demand. Hiring and retaining good, dependable employees has been tough with the pace we’ve established.
 
Simple. Sustainable. Social. I love it. Why did you choose these three words? Can you tell me what they mean to you personally and how they influence the brewpub?
We feel that our lifestyle can be boiled down to these three words. Living simply is key for us. It’s one of the reasons we love Zeeland so much. And we wanted to reflect simple living in the design of the space by using only brick, wood, and metal.
Sustainability is another aspect of Tripelroot that we find important. Most of what we consume in the kitchen and taproom is compostable. We actually only produce 1 – 1.5 pounds of trash every day! Even our food scraps go to good use. Some of our mug club members have a pig named Mini that gets the best of the best from our kitchen.
Creating a social environment has always been top-of-mind for us. We feel that a good brewpub is a place for community, it is a comfortable environment where friends and family can meet and share stories and reconnect.
 
Where did you draw inspiration for your food menu?
European beer and food culture has always been interesting to us. A lot can be said about people who’ve been brewing for hundreds of years. The stonebreads are actually our interpretation of a traditional German street food that we’ve always loved. We reuse the spent grains for our beer to make the dough in the bread.


 
 
Let’s talk beer. What is the plan for Zeeland Brewing? Are the two entities working in tandem or are they be separate?
They are separate entities, but we are contracting Zeeland Brewing to brew and distribute Tripelroot beer since we can’t do this with a brewpub license. As a brewpub, we can sell other breweries’ beer, which is a freedom we enjoy and want to continue.
 
The beer catalog is tremendous. How have you crafted your selection?
We definitely like to maintain a range of beers to appeal to all drinkers. So we’ll have Wheat, IPA, Double IPA, Belgian, and Stout, enough variation to keep things interesting. We want Tripelroot to be educational in a way. Despite the beer culture in West Michigan, we still have many customers who are new to craft beer. Offering a wide variety of beer, including our Cellar Series and some fun cocktail creations, we plan to give the Zeeland community a taste of the craft the we love and appreciate.

 
Wonderful. Is there anything else you’d personally like to touch on?
Yes! I’d love to talk about some of the events coming up this summer.
On August 19, we have the Mud Flap, which is our second year hosting the event. It is an “Amazing Race” style event where contestants compete in a scavenger hunt on bicycles around the city. Last year, we had a great turnout that raised over $3,100 for Susan G. Komen, and we hope to keep building and growing the event as time goes by.
Lastly, there is Wednesday’s Training Session Day where we invite community members to go for a bike ride in the trails around town. We also invite runners and swimmers to join in on the physical activity. Then, we all meet at the pub to enjoy our Session Ale and recover after a hard day’s work.
So come out and join for one of the many events this summer!
Thanks so much for your time, Laura. It’s been great talking with you.
 
Photography: Amee Rutan

tripelroot

As they appraoch three years of business, Tripelroot, Zeeland’s first and only brewpub, is maintaining a focus on crafting an experience that is simple, sustainable, and social.

The space was designed using only three materials: brick, wood, and metal. Same goes for the menu, which exclusively offers stonebreads, appetizers, and salads.

The pub was developed and is consciously maintained to be sustainable through constant efforts to reuse, recycle, and repurpose.

The folks at Tripelroot love to pair good beer with great company, and the atmosphere of the pub reflects that mentality by fostering a social experience for the community.

Until recently, the space was previously uninhabited for nearly a decade. Now it’s home to Zeeland’s only brewpub—and in February, they were approved to double in size by moving into the adjacent building.

We decided to pay Laura Gentry a visit to ask some questions about the budding brewpub and their plans for the future.

 

tripelroot

 

Tripelroot is Zeeland’s only brewpub. When you opened in 2014, were you looking to fill a hole in the market, or were you inspired by something more personal?

I’d say a little bit of both! Even though we didn’t grow up in Zeeland, we fell in love with its quaint hometown feel as soon as we arrived. It was close to home, close to work, and it offered a great environment to raise a family.

So we knew we loved the people, and we knew those people were in need of a place to gather and share great beer. On top of that, we had always dreamt of opening our own brewpub. The pieces seemed to fit together so we had to go for it.

 

What was the inspiration for the name, Tripelroot?

The idea for the name was supposed to reflect two aspects. First, we wanted a subtle beer reference with a nod to the Belgian Tripel. The second half, “root”, eludes to stability and a source of life for plants…a fitting reference for how we see ourselves in this community.

 

Zeeland was “dry” until 2006. With a town that has been relatively slow to develop its dining options, how do you think Tripelroot has affected the community?

It has been amazing watching the town transform in recent years. Although we can’t take credit for all the change, we’re happy to say Tripelroot has become a centerpiece of the community.

When we moved here, downtown was empty after 5 o’clock. Now, people have difficulty finding a parking space on weekdays.

 

Sounds like a good problem to have! So you were approved for expansion in February. What are your plans for the new space?

Yes! We are very excited about the new space, which opened around Memorial Day this year. With the beer garden, our capacity is approximately 100 people, which often isn’t enough on our busy nights. So when the space next door opened up, we jumped on the opportunity to expand. We’re excited to say we already have 15-20 private events booked for for 2017 as well as overflow space for the busy evenings.

tripelroot

 

What hurdles have you been dealing with in the first two years of business?

Great question. I definitely think the city of Zeeland recognized that the town needed places like Tripelroot. In the beginning, however, the city required us to meet 60% food sales. With beer being our main product, we had to collaborate with the city to better align their expectations with those of the state.

Another one of our biggest challenges has been keeping up with demand. Hiring and retaining good, dependable employees has been tough with the pace we’ve established.

 

Simple. Sustainable. Social. I love it. Why did you choose these three words? Can you tell me what they mean to you personally and how they influence the brewpub?

We feel that our lifestyle can be boiled down to these three words. Living simply is key for us. It’s one of the reasons we love Zeeland so much. And we wanted to reflect simple living in the design of the space by using only brick, wood, and metal.

Sustainability is another aspect of Tripelroot that we find important. Most of what we consume in the kitchen and taproom is compostable. We actually only produce 1 – 1.5 pounds of trash every day! Even our food scraps go to good use. Some of our mug club members have a pig named Mini that gets the best of the best from our kitchen.

Creating a social environment has always been top-of-mind for us. We feel that a good brewpub is a place for community, it is a comfortable environment where friends and family can meet and share stories and reconnect.

 

Where did you draw inspiration for your food menu?

European beer and food culture has always been interesting to us. A lot can be said about people who’ve been brewing for hundreds of years. The stonebreads are actually our interpretation of a traditional German street food that we’ve always loved. We reuse the spent grains for our beer to make the dough in the bread.

 

 

Let’s talk beer. What is the plan for Zeeland Brewing? Are the two entities working in tandem or are they be separate?

They are separate entities, but we are contracting Zeeland Brewing to brew and distribute Tripelroot beer since we can’t do this with a brewpub license. As a brewpub, we can sell other breweries’ beer, which is a freedom we enjoy and want to continue.

 

The beer catalog is tremendous. How have you crafted your selection?

We definitely like to maintain a range of beers to appeal to all drinkers. So we’ll have Wheat, IPA, Double IPA, Belgian, and Stout, enough variation to keep things interesting. We want Tripelroot to be educational in a way. Despite the beer culture in West Michigan, we still have many customers who are new to craft beer. Offering a wide variety of beer, including our Cellar Series and some fun cocktail creations, we plan to give the Zeeland community a taste of the craft the we love and appreciate.

 

Wonderful. Is there anything else you’d personally like to touch on?

Yes! I’d love to talk about some of the events coming up this summer.

On August 19, we have the Mud Flap, which is our second year hosting the event. It is an “Amazing Race” style event where contestants compete in a scavenger hunt on bicycles around the city. Last year, we had a great turnout that raised over $3,100 for Susan G. Komen, and we hope to keep building and growing the event as time goes by.

Lastly, there is Wednesday’s Training Session Day where we invite community members to go for a bike ride in the trails around town. We also invite runners and swimmers to join in on the physical activity. Then, we all meet at the pub to enjoy our Session Ale and recover after a hard day’s work.

So come out and join for one of the many events this summer!

Thanks so much for your time, Laura. It’s been great talking with you.

 

Photography: Amee Rutan

cheboygan brewing

“Today is a slammed day,” says Brian Lindsay, brewer at Cheboygan Brewing Company (CBC).

It’s packaging day at CBC, meaning hundreds of cases of empty cans have just been dropped off, filling the brewery from floor to ceiling. It’s a veritable maze of Blueberry Wheat, Lighthouse Amber, and of course, Blood Orange Honey.

These beers are well known on the Michigan craft market and are the primary bread-winners for the brewery who does the majority of their business in distribution. Established in 2011, CBC rocks out their beer recipes on 15 barrel and 30 barrel brew systems. Blood Orange Honey, their top seller, has its own corner in the brewery with two dedicated 30 barrel brite tanks.

“We have 600 cases going out every two weeks,” says Lindsay.

They have a small, but mighty production team whose primary responsibility is to keep churning out consistent and delicious distributed recipes.

cheboygan brewing

Mike Eme, Brian Lindsay, Doug Mehl and Phil Davey

But 2017 has seen new, exciting changes to the brewery team and their future aspirations. Mike Eme, head of brewery operations, has brought on Brian Lindsay and Doug Mehl to start shaking things up. While keeping to their majority distribution beers, the next era at CBC will also be concentrating on exploring new recipes and projects.

Kickstarting this new campaign, CBC has gotten their hands on a glorious little nano system. And already, recipe experimentation is happening!

“We have our core paycheck beers, but these experimental small batches are the beers that inspire the brewers,” says Eme.

Also, “the majority of the beer is going out the door, so it’s nice to have a small system to experiment with new recipes. We have a series coming up, all made with Centennial hops,” says Lindsay. “The first one is called Censible,” a solid Pale Ale that has gone over really well in the front of the house taproom. Already working on the next in the series, “Censeless” will literally be the big brother to Censible, coming in at a whopping 11%.

Another small batch brew, an IPA made with southern Australian hops called Constant Reminder, was inspired by the alarms set for frequent hop additions happening in five-minute increments (also it was Brian’s wedding beer, a constant reminder of his wife).

Lindsay teases other potential, upcoming recipes that have been inspired by his research into unique ingredients. He mentions a strawberry Saison, tropical Brown Ales, Sour Ales made with a souring honey, a margarita Gosé, and a mojito cocktail beer.

“When you have 31 gallons and it turns out to be god-awful, it’s not going to hurt you,” he says, laughing.

These new recipes are building up excitement across the board. In the taproom, locals and regular pub-goers who have loyally been drinking CBC’s standard recipes are intrigued with the new flavors and offerings. On the distribution side of things, these small batch offerings are garnering attention at events.  

Phil Davey, the head of sales and distribution for CBC, is excited for the growth. “We’re really stepping up our event game with pairing dinners and tastings.”

All around Michigan one can find CBC beers, and it’s really worth attending a special event. Not only will beer drinkers get to drink some of their traditional favorites, but usually it’s a great opportunity to try out a new recipe. Events are some of the best platforms for testing out new product. And if fans can’t make it up to the brewery in Cheboygan, events are great just because they reach everyone.

This summer though, it’s definitely worth checking out their original home in downtown Cheboygan. Patrons can enjoy a pint or two while watching the production staff work on the brew system connected to the pub. And it will be just in time for new happenings! The pub is doubling their taps from five to ten—an opportunity to offer both the familiar and the new to customers.

Also, they will be opening their outdoor beer garden for the summer, doubling their capacity and providing a neat space to better experience Cheboygan. And while they don’t offer food, plenty of local vendors share the space to ensure delicious offerings that pair well with the local brews.

cheboygan brewing

Summer is the high season for up north towns such as Cheboygan. They are destinations for breathtaking views, escapes into nature, small town hospitality, local food, and some of the best local beer.

“Their number one call in the summer is ‘where’s the brewery’ so I like to think we helped get more people coming through town,” says Eme, regarding tourism and the Chamber of Commerce.

Looking back, Eme is thoughtful on the evolution of Michigan breweries in relation to CBC.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And I think that’s why Michigan is doing so well in the industry.”

Indeed, their core beers have paved the way for market recognition, and now their small batches have whet our appetites. We’re going to stick around to see what comes next.

 

grand river brewery

While growing up in Jackson, MI, I saw tons of businesses come and go in the downtown area. It was always sad watching a memorable place close, but it was intriguing to see what comes next.

grand river breweryAbout 4 years ago Jackson’s next big thing was the opening of Grand River Brewery. They brought a new kind of spunk to Jackson by reviving an 85 year old building and giving it a new unique style. Grand River renovated the entire place and added a kitchen, column still, and a 15-barrel steam powered brew house.

“We see downtown as having a lot of potential and being up and coming,” said John Burtka, owner of Grand River Brewery. “We wanted to be one of the first ones here to help establish new investment in downtown Jackson.”

Grand River’s brew house is home to the award winning Monkey Mouth IPA and several other delicious beers. They also have wine that they make with Michigan grapes grown at local vineyards. Not only that, they also are a craft distillery that distills whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum.

“We didn’t want customers not coming to our taproom because one person out of four in that party wanted a mixed drink. So we started distilling too,” said Burtka

grand river brewery

Grand River Brewery is also planning to expand their beer distributing within Michigan so more people can enjoy their tasty beers.

But don’t wait for the beer to come to you! Go to the beer and bring all your friends because there is something for everyone. Grand River Brewery is a great place to grab some amazing food and drinks, and a great place to see how hard work and determination can have such a positive influence on a city.

On June 28, celebrate GRB’s 4 year anniversary at their Annual Pig Roast and beer release. They’ll be debuting the new Pinky ‘N Da Grain Raspberry Gose. Billy Lewis and The Soulbacks will be playing a live set from 6PM-9PM.

Plates are $16 and include a 1/2 lb. of pork, bbq sauce, slaw, potato salad, corn on the cob, and a slice of watermelon.

grand river brewery

 

brewery 4 two 4

Brewery 4 Two 4, one of only two breweries on the north side of Holland, MI, is excited to announce its official grand opening weekend starting Friday, June 30th. Planned hours for the opening weekend (which will be same as regular hours going forward) are as follows: Fridays, 3 p.m. – 11 p.m., Saturdays, 12 p.m. – 11 p.m., and Sundays, 2 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Named as such for the area zip code, the brewery plans to showcase a local-centric, northside Holland vibe with a relaxing, friendly neighborhood environment and quality craft beer. “We wanted to create a space where those who live and hang out [on the north side] have a space on their home turf to enjoy,” shared Erin Miller, co-owner of Brewery 4 Two 4.

brewery 4 two 4

Erin & Dave Miller

Erin and husband, Dave, are not only passionate about their neighborhood, but their beer as well. Homebrewers for over 10 years, Dave was working as a brewer at Our Brewing Company in downtown Holland before bringing their long time dream to light. It’s not been an easy road, but the victory is so much sweeter with effort.

“We had good, stable jobs and no money to open a brewery—it was always just a dream in the back of our minds,” shared Erin. “But eventually we knew we just had to go for it. Three years ago, we just went all in.” Construction delays, advanced media coverage that was a little too advanced, and other typical setbacks that occur when you open any business have hindered, but never stopped, their progress. And the day they have been dreaming about has finally arrived.

Erin and Dave, or Mr. Everything, as Erin likes to call him, will be hands-on anytime you walk into Brewery 4 Two 4. Dave is the brewer, bartender, general manager, and more. Erin plans on being there to assist with whatever needs to be done, because that’s just how these two are. Work hard, work well, and work with heart.

“We’re for the Average Joes and Janes. For anyone, really. We want to be welcoming and provide something for everyone. It’s about education, not pretension. We want to have a broad range of beers—for someone who is new to the craft beer scene to something for the ultimate beer geek who wants to freak out over a barrel aged stout or a sour (eventually),” Erin shares, “at the same time, we are focusing on quality and attention to detail. Everything in the brewery has a purpose—from the glassware to how we offer sample flights. Everything was created with that goal in mind.”

Operating on a ½ barrel system and open only on weekends as of now, starting off small doesn’t mean they aren’t starting off strong. Expect ten beers on tap for their grand opening—Mittenbrew has an exclusive list of what they plan on serving. Here’s a taste of some of the ten different beers they will be opening with:

brewery 4 two 4

Juice Weasel: NE inspired juicy IPA. Notes of orange, grapefruit and passionfruit, flaked oats and wheat bring a full-bodied mouthfeel. Fermentables: 2 Row, oats, wheat, Vienna, cara pils. Hops: citra, amarillo centennial, comet.

Dry Hopped Pale: A clean american pale will feature a rotating single variety hop addition. Fermentables: 2 Row, munich, victory, melanoiden, cara pils. Hops: rotating

Let’s Play Two: A take on traditional golden suds. If you’re new to the craft game or prefer a clean drinking, ale/lager hybrid this is your beer. Fermented with a blend of clean ale yeast and german ale lager yeast to contribute to the clean, crisp finish. Fermentables: pilsner, munich, cara pils. Hops: northern brewer

Crazy Putin: Bold Russian Imperial Stout with a powerful roasty, chocolate note, smoothed out by lactose on the finish. Fermentables: 2 Row, chocolate, crystal, biscuit, brown, melanoidan, roasted barely, oats, lactose. Hops: cluster, northern brewer, centennial, liberty.

Bestside Wheat: Brewed with an american hefeweizen strain of yeast, notes of clove and banana, more subtle than a german hefeweizen. Finished with citrusy hops to produce the perfect beach beer. Fermentables: 2 row, wheat, oat. Hops: northern brewer, azacca.

SIM Cities: Brewed with copious amounts of simcoe, columbus and amarillo hops. Dank and piney West Coast IPA. Fermentables: 2 Row, munich, vienna, crystal, cara pils. Hops: Simcoe, Columbus, Amarillo.

Better Brown: Malty, roasty brown ale with molasses and brown sugar, balanced by additions of warrior and liberty hops. Fermentables: 2 row, munich, crystal, aromatic, special roast, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses. Hops: warrior, liberty.

 

 


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