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

summer beer fest

In the beginning, 1997 to be precise, there were approximately 30 breweries with membership in the newly minted Michigan Brewers Guild. The purpose of their inception was to form an alliance to promote our state’s emerging beer industry and advocate in legislative matters. Two decades later, with their support and guidance, that number is 239 and growing. More than half of the current members helped celebrate this milestone anniversary at the 20th edition of Summer Beer Festival in Depot Town.

The Guild’s first sanctioned beer festival took place in their inaugural year with a couple dozen breweries and approximately 600 attendees. Eleven of those original participating breweries have returned for this year’s festival, although not all of them have been present at every festival in between.


This weekend’s celebration nearly broke the perimeter of Riverside Park and exemplified the exponential growth realized over twenty years, with more than 145 breweries serving over 1,140 beers, and a two day total crowd of 12,000 people enjoying the wealth of choices.

Several of the breweries participating in last weekend’s edition were also celebrating their 20th anniversary and have grown alongside the Guild. In 1997, Founders Brewing Company was a relatively small operation whose back door read “Canal Street Brewing.” Dark Horse Brewing Co began its first incarnation in downtown Marshall as a now-closed gastropub that would blossom into an entire compound of craft businesses in it’s second life. Dragonmead Microbrewery was formed and preparing to open. Atwater Brewery began producing German style lagers in Detroit’s historic Rivertown district, adding more locations as their range of beers expanded. CJ’s Brewing Company set up shop in Commerce Township, later opening a second location in Plymouth. Woodward Avenue Brewers began “putting the ‘ale’ in Ferndale” and hasn’t stopped. The list of breweries with proven staying power goes on.



Inevitably not every beer business succeeds. As the years have come and gone, so have some of the breweries. Fortunately for enthusiasts there’s a steady stream of new breweries willing to take their place in the game. Those new to the MBG festival circuit this summer include Transient Artisan Ales, Greyline Brewing Company, Speciation Artisan Ales, and several others. Breweries are able to participate as members when they’ve satisfied the Guild’s requirements including a waiting period.

The seasonal festivals planned in 2018 are sure to impress with steadily bigger numbers representing the ever-expanding beer scene as the Michigan Brewers Guild reaches the equivalent years of the legal drinking age in our Great Beer State. In the meantime, enjoy the remainder of Michigan Craft Beer Month and toast a hearty cheers to 20 years!

 

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.

 

burning foot

Imagine you and your friends on a sandy beach along Lake Michigan, encircled by the area’s best breweries, jamming out to some awesome live music; could there be a better way to end summer?

Well, on August 26, the Burning Foot Beer Festival will once again take over the Pere Marquette Beach in Muskegon, MI. Burning Foot is set directly on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, where you can roam barefoot throughout the circle of breweries, enjoying the best the area has to offer.

The Burning Foot Beer Festival was started just three years ago by the Lakeshore Brewers Guild with 36 breweries and 4 live bands. The first year was fairly low-key, but as the Guild has grown, so has the festival.

burning foot

 

The Lakeshore Brewers Guild is a regional guild that encompasses breweries that surround the Lake Michigan shoreline. This includes breweries in Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

“We’re really paying attention to our area, and taking the base that was Burning Foot and expanding,” said Allen Serio, a board member of the guild.

Burning Foot brings the mission of the Lakeshore Brewers Guild to life and exemplifies the “lakeshore lifestyle.” If you’ve spent any time along Lake Michigan or in the shoreline’s vibrant communities, you’ll understand why this festival incorporates more than just beer. There’s a certain “energy” to a lakeshore lifestyle—it’s uplifting, creative, and free-spirited.

“We are a part of this circle, this family for just a brief period of time, and we really want to create a great experience,” said Serio.

This year’s event will boast 65 breweries and 5 live bands, including two national acts. The festival has evolved in many ways over a short period of time, as the guild continues to expand its representation of all that is great about communities along Lake Michigan.

“Every year you should see an increase in music and quality. The atmosphere is really a focus for us; the sound, lighting, and colors all are all part of the experience. The energy level is something you don’t get in many places,” said Serio.

In the center of last year’s festival was a stunning hop tower art installation. Expect to see more brewery art this year, as well as the return of a shoe check-in, beach camping, a bike valet, unique “cross-lake” brewery collaborations, and a VIP lounge area.

The shoe check-in and bike valet services are not only nice festival add-ons, but also serve as ways to give back to the community. Donations from the shoe check-in will again go to Noah Project, a no-kill animal shelter in the area. The bike valet will be set-up and run by Habitat for Humanity, with donations from that service returning to the organization.

The newly added VIP area will be an exclusive space in a prime location close the stage. It will include a covered tent area, a tiki bar, fire pits, lounge area, and access to food and beverages.

And, as part of the experience, there is also the unique option to camp along the lakeshore. Tents can be set up along the sandy beach and campers are placed in the parking lot (sites do need to be reserved in advance). Muskegon’s trolley service is also available to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

Tickets for this year’s festival can now be purchased online.

 

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.

 

 

unlabeled

Whether you run an organic dairy farm, sell handsewn dresses on Etsy, or create an LLC to market a neighborhood home improvement service, you are an entrepreneur in some shape, size, or variety.

For Nathan Straathof, a life of entrepreneurship was inevitable.

His uncle owns and operates Hilhof Farm Dairy, which has been bottling certified organic milk since 2008. Nathan’s mother sells her custom-designed dresses on Etsy as her main source of income. And it was Nathan who, in college, created Straathof Group LLC. To generate customers, he stuffed handouts in mailboxes around Grand Rapids, and spent his spare time painting fences, cleaning gutters, and laying the groundwork for his career as an entrepreneur.

It was during his time at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids that Nathan discovered an interest in accounting. After Aquinas, he went on to receive his MBA from Davenport, which lead him to a financial analyst role at Meritage Hospitality Group.

A new adventure began when Nathan’s wife received a job opportunity in Germany. After moving, he and his wife made friends with locals in Munich’s beer community.

Nathan then discovered the Teku, a traditional German beer drinking glass that he began selling in the American market through Amazon Prime. After bringing a product to market, learning the in’s and out’s of supply chain management, Nathan was ready to develop his own product.

unlabeled

That product is Unlabeled, the blind beer tasting game. The idea was to create a game that any beer drinker can enjoy—from seasoned homebrewers to those who enjoy a good beer every now and then. Intended for use at home and your local brewpub, Nathan is hoping to establish Unlabeled as a household name in Grand Rapids and beyond.

To play Unlabeled, each player brings one or two beers to the party, while keeping the beer’s identity hidden from other players. Players then take turns as “beer host” and all participants get the opportunity to blind taste. You can also order a flight of beers if you’re playing at a bar, as long as you ask for the names to be hidden. For a quick gameplay tutorial, check out this video.

To bring the game to life, Nathan partnered with Keen Studio, an advertising firm in Grand Rapids that has worked with international brands and startups alike. With Keen’s help, Nathan was able to design the product and packaging, as well as film a promotional video.

It has been a long road since his days passing out flyers for Straathof Group LLC, but Nathan’s dream is near fruition as funds are being raised to begin manufacturing and distribution. To learn more and contribute to Unlabeled, check out the Kickstarter.

The Kickstarter ends Sunday, June 18th. You can follow the Unlabeled Facebook page for updates.

 

railtown brewing

Gim Lee and Justin Buiter, co-founders and fellow brewers of Railtown Brewing Company, opened their doors in December of 2014. Initially, Lee and Buiter would brew during the week  and open for business on the weekends. However, after two weekends of positive feedback and satisfied beer-drinkers, they decided to quit their day jobs and fully commit to the brewery.

Since then, seating capacity has become Railtown’s biggest problem as the young brewery has grown much quicker than expected. Now with eight full-time employees, 414 barrels sold in 2016, and a goal of 1000 barrels by 2018, Dutton’s watering hole is ready for expansion.

Railtown will be taking over the neighboring carwash where they will oversee a massive construction project. The layout for the new space is 6,250 sq. ft. with indoor seating for 100 patrons, 95 seats in the mezzanine, and an additional 40-70 seats on the patio.

The owners are hoping for a comfortable, industrial feel, and they have partnered with Beer City Metal Works & Construction to ensure they achieve the desired atmosphere.

According to Buiter, they are “thrilled to formalize that [they] are staying rooted in the Dutton community. Our customers have supported us for two-and-a-half years and we couldn’t be happier to stay here.”

To celebrate their success and show appreciation for the Dutton community, Railtown will be offering Lifetime Mug Club memberships to their passionate fans. The membership will cost $475, which gives patrons $2 off every beer, every day, for life.

railtown brewing

Railtown will only be offering these memberships for a limited time. The sale ends on July 15th. Also, owners Gim and Justin do not plan on selling memberships after the sale ends, so this is the only time for customers to reap the benefits.

Lee and Buiter also wanted to cultivate a more rounded experience for their customers by offering a food menu at the new location. The new space will provide a variety of street fare food options to accompany their award-winning craft beer selection.

Additionally, Railtown fans can look forward to enjoying more of their favorite Dutton-made beers on their summer adventures thanks to the brewery’s new canning machine. Coming soon, customers will be able to purchase 16-ounce cans from the taproom.

For more updates on all the changes at Railtown, check out their Facebook page.