founders detroit

Founders Brewing Co. announced today that, for the first time in their 20-year history, they will open a second taproom. The new facility will feature a fully-operational brewery and retail taproom located in the lower Cass Corridor neighborhood in Midtown Detroit, Michigan, a burgeoning cultural hub adjacent to sports arenas, music venues and more.

founders detroit“Having been born and raised in the metro area, Detroit has long held a special place in my heart,” said Mark Dorich, Founders’ Vice President of Retail Operations. “It’s a hard working, no-nonsense, culturally diverse and musically-inspired town, which happens to have the best sports teams in the country. Some of our strongest support has come from the east side of Michigan, and we could not think of a better place to expand our taproom experience. We anticipate creating a taproom that is inspired by what we do in Grand Rapids, but unique in its own Motown way. We’re excited to be a larger part of ‘the D’!”

Based in Grand Rapids since 1997, Founders’ decision to open a second taproom in Detroit reaffirms their longstanding commitment and pride in their home state of Michigan. The new location will include a full-service taproom serving unique menu items and locally-made Founders beers from the on-site brewery, in addition to the classic Founders lineup. Founders plans to staff the facility primarily with Detroit-area employees in an effort to contribute to local job growth and economic revitalization. Hiring will begin in summer 2017.

The 14,000 square foot building is located at 456 Charlotte St. and will undergo construction beginning in summer 2017. The grand opening is targeted for winter of 2017. Founders has partnered with Midtown Detroit Inc. and Invest Detroit on the development of the property.

“The introduction of a brand like Founders Brewing Co. to the South Cass neighborhood will have a catalytic impact and attract others to invest,” said Sue Mosey, executive director, Midtown Detroit, Inc.

Midtown Detroit Inc. has partnered with Invest Detroit to bring the development to life.  

“We are again pleased to partner and co-invest with Midtown Detroit, Inc. to facilitate the redevelopment of a building in this emerging district,” said Dave Blaszkiewicz, President and Chief Executive Officer of Invest Detroit. “Sue Mosey and her team have done an amazing job of attracting new businesses to the community. This location for the highly recognized Founders Brewing Co. will be a critical asset to encourage additional investment to revitalize the surrounding area.”

 

founders detroit

 

Founders explains further, and answers a few more questions before they’re asked:

Why are we opening a taproom in Detroit?

Our commitment to our home state of Michigan was established long ago and we intend to continue fulfilling it, even as our reach elsewhere increases. We have toyed with the idea of opening another taproom for years now and, when finally moving forward, it was a no-brainer choosing Detroit as the city to host it.  Not only do we have tons of fans on the east side of the state, we also have a personal history and love for Detroit. Both our Culinary Director and Vice President of Retail Operations hail from metro Detroit and have long been petitioning that we deepen our roots there.

While our Grand Rapids taproom is and always will be home to us, we feel it is important to spread the Founders love and allow even more of our fans the opportunity to experience drinking from the source themselves.

What will the taproom experience be like?
We are in the initial planning stages so there is not much information to share at this point, but we will keep you all updated as the project progresses.

Will the taproom be modeled after the Grand Rapids taproom?
The Detroit taproom will certainly take inspiration from the Grand Rapids location, but it isn’t intended to feel like a duplicate of it. We recognize and appreciate that Detroit and Grand Rapids, despite being in the same state, have a number of distinctions and our intention is to celebrate and embrace those. Every effort will be taken to ensure that the Founders culture represented in the Grand Rapids taproom comes through just as passionately in our Detroit location.

Will we brew at this location?
Yes, we plan on brewing at this location and will create beers unique only to it. In addition to those, we will also offer our year-round, seasonal and specialty beers on tap as well. Our Barrel-Aged Series beers will be on tap depending on availability.

How are we staffing this location?
We will open up a select number of positions internally to our current staff however the vast majority of jobs will be new hires and filled locally – we anticipate over 100 new jobs total. This process will extend from summer 2017 through winter 2017.

How will this impact the local economy?
Not only will the presence of this taproom create jobs in Detroit, we anticipate it will drive in more traffic to the lower Cass Corridor neighborhood. Located adjacent to arenas and music venues, the location is already seeing the beginnings of revitalization and we strive to be at the forefront of it. Our Grand Rapids location helped to spur the revitalization of the downtown neighborhood it is located in and we anticipate the same will happen in the lower Cass Corridor.

 

In sharp contrast to a city built on politics—a force with the power to polarize millions, beer just proved to have the strength to do the exact opposite. Nearly 15,000 professionals just converged for a week in Washington, D.C. for Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, the industry’s largest annual convention, hosted by the Brewers Association.

We attended because… well, beer, of course. And so did an honorable contingency from Michigan. When I travel to a new city or an international destination, the last thing I want to consume is something I can get back at home. You’ll never catch me eating a Big Mac in Europe (or domestically, for that matter, but you get the point). However, when you see people from all over the U.S. waiting excitedly in line for MI beer, and then bummed when the keg of Two Hearted kicks, it makes you feel proud to be an American, reppin’ The Mitten State.

On Wed, Apr. 12, Michigan Brewers Guild threw a party, Michigan Hoppy Hour, at Capital Lounge, and picked up a generous bar tab that I can only imagine had a few zeros on it. For a couple hours, we hung out with our arms around our friends from back home, and got to watch D.C. locals gush about the beer we have at our fingertips on any given day. It makes you pause, and realize we’re a part of something special—regardless of whether you voted for Trump.

 

To all those from MI we bumped into, saw in passing, or shared a few pints with throughout the week, here’s to you—a shout-out!

  •      Shannon from Michigan Brewers Guild
  •      Jeff from Harmony Brewing
  •      Mitch from Speciation Artisan Ales
  •      Chris and Brendan from Transient Artisan Ales
  •      Rings and Matt from Cedar Springs Brewing Company
  •      Jeff from Rockford Brewing Company
  •      Dave, Francesca, Lauren, and Jason from Founders Brewing Co
  •      Jason, Kate, Jacob, Brooks, and Josh from Brewery Vivant
  •      Chris and Max from The Mitten Brewing Co.
  •      Mike from Cheboygan Brewing Company
  •      Fred, JP, Adam, Mark, and Isaac from New Holland
  •      Tim from Territorial Brewing
  •      Dave from City Built Brewing Company
  •      Stephen from Batch Brewing Company
  •      Brian from StormCloud Brewing
  •      Brad and Matt from Atwater Brewery
  •      Erik, John, and Michael from Pilot Malt House
  •      OpenRoad Brewery
  •      Jay and Steve from North Pier Brewing Company
  •      Matt and Rene from Arbor Brewing
  •      Boyd and Chris from Coldbreak Brewing Equipment
  •      Steve from Hunter’s Handmade Brewery
  •      Brew Detroit
  •      Laura & crew from Bell’s Brewery
  •      Steve from Henry A. Fox
  •      Justin & crew from Hop Head Farms
  •      Brown Iron Brewhouse
  •      North Channel Brewing
  •      Alliance Beverage Distributing
  •      Imperial Beverage


Photography: Steph Harding

creston brewery

Opened in August 2016, Creston Brewery is planting an impression on their neighborhood. Rooted in a commitment to their community and all things local, Creston has transformed an old furniture showroom and warehouse into a welcomed destination for the northeast side of Grand Rapids.

Co-owned by Scott Schultz, Brewmaster, his wife Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, Vince Lambert, CFO, and his wife Cailin Kelly, and bonded by their friendship, Creston has already established itself as an inclusive taproom, inviting both dedicated locals and the craft curious.

I sat down with Jarrod Napierkowski, General Manager, and Andrea Bumstead, Sales and Events Manager, who kept generously feeding me beers, to talk about what it means to be a new brewery growing up in front of their neighbors.

creston brewery

Andrea Bumstead & Jarrod Napierkowski

Editor’s note: After this interview was conducted, Schultz tipped us off that they’re getting ready to release a brand new beer, and their first lager ever—Creston Lager, on Sat, April 22 in celebration of Earth Day—made exclusively with all Michigan ingredients. Since we kinda dig our planet (and The Mitten State) too, we asked him to tell us more about this day of firsts.

Scott Schultz: Creston Lager, at 4.7%, is brewed with water from Lake Michigan, malts from Pilot Malt House, and hops from West Michigan Hopyards and Michigan Hop Alliance. It’s my idea of a perfect beer: easy to drink, hugely flavorful, and supports the growers of damn fine ingredients in our great state. Earth Day is the perfect day to celebrate that. Basically, it’s the lager that AB-InBev could never brew.  

 

Mittenbrew : Thanks for keepin’ it real, Scott. Can you break down the profile a little more?

SS: It’s a loose hybrid of a pils and a marzen. The menu description could read: Pale yellow with medium body, low bitterness. Bready, toasty, and with a citrus-dominated flavor and aroma from Nugget, Cascade, Chinook, and Crystal hops. Clean, crisp, and complex.

 

Ok, I’m sold. So, Creston’s first lager?

SS: Yeah. It’s our first time brewing it, too. We always have a house yeast strain for mainstays, but switch specialty yeast strains with the season. Spring is lager season. The ingredients perfectly showcase how good we have it in MI—as far as quality, availability, and affordability. I designed the brew system to easily handle lagers, and this beer gets an extra-long conditioning process to be as clean and crisp as possible.

 

What are your plans for its release?

SS: We tap it on Earth Day, and will have collectible Creston Lager glassware. It’ll be available to-go in crowlers and growlers as well. We’ll also be debuting our outdoor patio, unveiling all new awesome local art on the taproom walls, have brunch and dinner features, and the first-ever taproom performance from indie-soul band, Vox Vidorra. Stay tuned to Creston’s website for more details to be announced soon.

creston brewery

Scott Schultz

 

Now, back to our regularly scheduled interview…

What was the motivation for opening a brewery?

Jarrod Napierkowski: Molly and Cailin were friends first, who both knew Scott and Vince, who had never met, shared the same goal of wanting to open their own brewery. After telling them, “You guys have to meet. You’ve got to be friends,” both couples ended up sitting around a campfire over beers together. Scott, already a professional brewer, and Vince, a finance whiz, asked each other, “What do we have to do to make this happen?” Before they knew it, they were looking at our building.

 

How did Scott and Vince want to position their brewery compared to the others in Grand Rapids?

Andrea Bumstead: I feel with Scott’s experience in the industry, he seemed like he just automatically wanted to do things differently. Scott’s idea from the very beginning was that he wanted to brand everything with its own identity. He wanted to brew beers that weren’t necessarily true to style, but brewed to flavor first in such a way that their guests could identify with the beer as a whole experience.

JN: Part of it was the opportunity to bring this incredible building to life, and exposing the other side of the beer industry—the femininity and beauty behind brewing beer and operating a brewery. They were tired of seeing all these breweries that were metal and wood and raw—man caves by default. With the building and the beer, they wanted to express the natural beauty that is everything this industry can do.

 

Did either of the wives have any input on honing in on that femininity?

JN: Absolutely. They’ve been very hands-on, integral in the dialogue—exchanging advice with Scott and Vince. All four of them work in a cohesive partnership to create this thing, including building our team of employees as well. They give everyone a voice, and are very receptive when there are things we want to see happen. I really think Molly and Cailin helped build this as much as Scott and Vince did—they all came to the table with complementing skillsets.

 

There’s an gentle uniqueness to the ambiance of the building. What was it, in particular, that made them commit to this location? Was it the building or the neighborhood?

JN: I think it goes beyond both. This actually wasn’t the first place they looked at. The most important thing I sensed was the vibe and feeling of what went into the dream to do something for a community. Originally, they had planned on being across town on Wealthy Street, and that fell through, but it didn’t disrupt their vision to open a brewery that focuses on the community, that makes the people in the community feel valued. All of that intention just transferred naturally to Creston. The goal of everyone here has been to bring up this community, and to make the brewery feel like we’re a part of it.

 

Assuming all things went well when the brewery opened, it would become an anchor destination in the community, so what came first—the brewery impacting the community or vice versa?

AB: Our neighbors have been very supportive. In the very beginning, it was difficult to do as much outreach as we had intended, but that’s only because everyone was working so hard to get us up and running. Since, I’d like to think that we’ve had a very positive effect on the neighborhood. Once a month, we host community workshop events either at the brewery or on location outside to help better the community, which have been really well received.

 

Were there any concepts you tried to implement at the beginning that looked good on paper, but didn’t get the traction you had hoped?

JN: The biggest challenge so far has been coming to the realization that we can’t take our entire staff out of the brewery to clean the parks or plant trees for an entire day. Business has been so good that many of us need to hold down the fort here. So, in order to have active interactions with the community, we’ve had to scale back our efforts just a bit, or be a little more creative while still being meaningful. We donate proceeds from events to local charities, and we employ people from Grand Rapids Urban League when we need extra hands out there. If there’s something we want to do, we find a way to make it happen, even if we have to do it in incremental steps to make the larger dream come true.

 

How have you accomplished that with the Creston Crew?

AB: Similar to the concept of a “mug club,” Creston Crew goes way beyond just getting a traditional discount on a beer. Members can actually choose their own day of the week, Sunday-Thursday, to take advantage of the Crew’s benefits. And, even if you come in and it’s not your day, you still get taken care of. We send out a monthly Crews News email newsletter to keep our members informed about what’s coming up, how they can get involved at events, and even what they missed since the previous month. To a certain degree, we put some of the onus on the members, too, to participate and take some ownership of their community, too.

 

Let’s talk about the beer. Why did Scott’s vision for the beer program resist a true-to-style portfolio?

JN: He knew he wanted to get close, but more than anything else—he wanted to be ingredient-driven. When we were first conceptualizing the brewery, we all talked together about how to best represent the beers. So, rather than beers with descriptions limited exclusively to style, we developed a custom scale to quantify Scott’s vision.

 

creston breweryEditor: The Creston Brewery Beer Scale, designed in the shape of the letter C, expresses the following characteristics of each of their beers: color via Standard Reference Method (SRM), malt, bitterness, and hoppiness. In the middle of the C, the centerpiece of the scale, is a simple icon to indicate the beer’s “primary flavor and aroma” or to highlight a unique ingredient. Visit to see it applied on their menu. It’s clever.

 

 

 

For craft beer novices, how do you think the Creston Brewery Beer Scale has contributed to people interacting with you?

JN: It’s a way to help people visually recognize what they may (or may not) like in a particular beer, with the hope that they’ll seek out others based on their preference. We wanted to re-teach people how they learn about beer.

AB: The scale has also been a really nice way for our servers and bartenders to engage with our customers. It’s been an intriguing aspect of the guest experience so far.

JN: It’s also a great way level the playing field for people who may just want a beer. It helps eliminate the intimidation factor.

AB: Maybe half of the people who visit us don’t know much about beer. They come in for dinner with their family or friends, and with the Scale, we’re able to guide them on their discovery. We also get a ton of people who want to get their Brewsader Passport stamped, who end up hanging out a little longer to study what we do because of the Scale.

JN: People definitely seem to connect with the culture here. From the building, to the staff, to the beers, its menu, and to the food—we provide this nice little starter pack for people looking to explore what craft beer is all about.

As the sole brewer, what challenges, or successes, has Scott experienced?

JN: Having worked at Founders for 4 years, Scott witnessed them struggle if they wanted to go local for ingredients. They couldn’t do it because of the sheer volume they did. The nice thing here is that Scott can do that on a smaller scale, so he really focuses on that. If it’s not Grand Rapids local, it’s Michigan local. Whenever possible.

 

How has your draft list evolved since you opened?

JN: We started with about a dozen, and now we’re consistently at having 20 on.

 

What are your plans for distribution?

AB: On pace to do 1,000 barrels per year, it’s all self-distribution at this point. We’re currently on at 12 accounts between Grand Rapids and Lansing, and that’s all just happened within the last month.

 

Do Scott and Vince have intentional plans to increase volume or expand distribution?

AB: There’s always a plan. As long as things are growing organically and the best way possible. With all of us moving toward the same positive goal, then slowly or quickly we’ll get to where we’re supposed to be. It’s a matter of just dipping our toe in right now to gauge how we’re received. If the growth is steady and healthy, we estimate we might need to move beyond self-distributing by summer 2018.

JN: Fortunately, we’re set up in this building with the opportunity to expand our brewing operations footprint if we need to increase production. But, if you jump the gun too much, you won’t be able to fill your own shoes.

In addition to the draft list growing over the last couple months, I’ve noticed that the food menu has done the same. It’s pretty eclectic, Mexican-inspired. How come?

JN: Scott and Vince knew they definitely wanted to have a full-service kitchen, and liked the idea of tacos, burritos, empanadas… We hired our chef, Dan Cook, formerly of The Gilmore Collection, to come in and push the limits of the original menu’s vision, which he’s done. He experiments with features regularly, creating dishes that you wouldn’t expect from a brewery—often inspired by ideas Vince and Cailin bring back from their international travels. And, Dan does an amazing job bringing those cultural inspirations to life, sourcing his ingredients from a number of MI farms and farmers markets.

 

Creston seems like a welcoming community for artists. It sounds like you’ve also started to scratch the surface by hosting live music, too?

AB: Molly actually curates all the artwork that’s on the walls, refreshing it every 3-4 months, showcasing different Grand Rapids artists. And, we’ve started with hosting live music. The current plan is to feature them weekly, stripped down acoustically. And, it’ll be in the round, staged in the middle of the dining room floor.

JN: We’re also hosting live comedy nights, a rotating lineup of local DJs spinning vinyl, and guest speakers doing interactive spoken word. It’s going to be a really nice, engaging environment for anyone who enjoys our beer, our food, or the building’s ambiance.

 

Final last words?

JN: Although we’ve already touched on it, we’re just excited at the opportunity to create something the neighborhood needs. Regardless of where our growth takes us, whether that includes expansion, it’s important to us that we continue to contribute to developing this community, making the entire area thrive as much as it deserves.

creston brewery

 

Photography: Steph Harding

winter beer fest

Before I worked in the craft industry, I was a beer festival attendee. My perspective only stretched as far as to see the glorious, seemingly never-ending flow of beer from taps. I sought out IPAs and Flanders Reds, but would absolutely try anything. My friends and I would all get different pours and trade them around, forgetting who had what, but enjoying all the different flavors and tastes anyways. People around me would start the beer battle cry and we would all join in, knocking elbows with friendly, slightly intoxicated neighbors and doing our best imitations of freed animals howling at the moon. It was always an atmosphere of (slightly reckless) happiness and friendship.

emilyA couple of years later, I speak from the other side of festival operations as a brewery employee. The air of happiness and friendship is still very much there, but for different reasons. Beer is hard work. As an employee of a Michigan brewery, I now appreciate the science, creativity, innovation, patience, and elbow grease it takes to churn out one magical recipe. I respect brewers for their meticulous natures and passion for creation. I appreciate all of the pubtenders and barbacks for being on the front lines of service. I admire sales representatives and marketing gurus who grow the brand and spread the good word of beer. And I bow down to brave individuals who put every last iota of capital and confidence into opening their own small businesses.

I started as a pubtender in a small brewery to learn the beer and study the brand. I tried out brewing, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t the everyday vocation I wanted to devote myself to. I am now a brewery sales representative who dabbles in marketing. I’m also the lead on festivals and events, working with new people and old friends every day. Like all workers in the craft industry, I wear a lot of hats, and gladly. I am still new to the industry, but I recognize that the best brewery team is one that not only believes in the brand, but also in all of its individual members.

And only the best craft and brewery teams are brought to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Fest. Not only is it hosted by the largest craft beverage organization in Michigan—this festival takes place in Grand Rapids, known by many as Beer City, USA. For Michigan breweries, this is our semester’s final exam, making all of the festival-goers our very enthusiastic and very opinionated graders.

Like a majority of fellow breweries, we plan our beer list carefully (and usually months in advance). We want to bring recognized favorites, but also new styles and maybe a few surprises. Some of those surprises, like a barrel-aged beer, take months to age, with brewers carefully tasting and testing the product until that exact moment that it’s pronounced perfect. And when we tap that beer, crossing our fingers that it wasn’t damaged in transportation or that the tap lines aren’t too cold to pour through, nothing makes us happier than handing it over to an eager attendee.

The weather for this year’s Winter Beer Fest ran the gamut of possible Michigan forecasts. Friday kicked off the festivities with heavy rains downways, sideways, and everyway, drowning everyone, yet spirits remained high. Saturday ushered in a cold snap, welcoming back some fluffy white snow following a pretty mellow winter season. Luckily, the biggest issue weather caused was a few flyaway tents, so festivities went forward.

winter beer fest

A huge attribute to the success of a festival is the volunteer staff. Sometimes, they are the close friends and family of fellow brewery staff. Sometimes they are complete strangers eager for a new experience. Whatever their motivations, they are often thrust into the thick of things with nothing but their enthusiasm to guide them.

We had a great mix of volunteers pouring with us at this beer festival, all with different experience levels. A couple had never poured beer before, while a few others were volunteer veterans, pouring with ease and fielding questions like they owned the place. This mix of strengths caters to all of the different festival goers as well. First-time attendees want more questions answered while some just want the beer options listed as efficiently as possible. Either way, it’s always good to have help.

Even with advanced planning and care, things don’t always go quite the way we want—weather, forgotten supplies, broken down vehicles, sick workers—it all happens. This is usually the nature of the beer business. Luckily, the Michigan craft industry is known for camaraderie. We all lend out a lot of spare wrenches, air tanks, and even volunteer workers at festivals to ensure that all attendees are allowed the best possible time of their lives. At this year’s Winter Beer Fest, we forgot an air tank, meaning we had no way to push beer through the taplines (sheer will does not work). I knew I could reach out to friends in the industry for assistance, and it was no surprise when someone had an extra they could lend us. Later that day, we helped jumpstart another brewery’s vehicle.

The Michigan craft industry is very much a community—a lot of give with little take. We only want to help each other excel in order to grow the industry into further success as a whole. It all comes down to our beer in a person’s hand. With our whole hearts, every fiber of our being, we want people to enjoy it. But we want honest feedback. We want questions and discussions. Most of all, we want to have a conversation with people about our beer and our brand.

With the number of Michigan breweries growing monthly, Michigan craft-drinkers are becoming more and more educated. They recognize quality, they ask questions about ingredients and brew systems, and they appreciate something new. The constant challenge of fulfilling and exceeding every attendee’s expectation keeps us all on our toes and guarantees an innovative and creative future for the industry as a whole.

Whether craft is a hobby or a career, Michigan craft is all about passion. We believe in what we drink and who pours it no matter what side of the bar we’re standing on.

 

Photography: Amee Rutan

Cultivate

Around the corner near the railroad tracks in Depot Town you’ll find a sanctuary operating as a non-profit beer and coffee bar called Cultivate. Their name refers to developing connections and facilitating relationships within the neighborhood as much as it describes the gardening done on site that benefits local food charities. All profits and tips go toward fighting hunger.

From the moment the idea was planted they’ve involved the community, opening after a successful crowd-sourced campaign through Patronicity raised more than the original goal. Volunteers helped transform the space inside and out during the summer of 2015 leading to a soft opening serving coffee and tea in September. Approvals to serve beer came shortly after, and they celebrated their first anniversary of being fully open in October 2016.

Cultivate

Cultivate’s thirty six taps dispense some of the most sought-after brews and include a dedicated mead faucet featuring a selection from Schramm’s. In addition to generous pours at reasonable prices, a flight of 4 tastes is available for most of the offerings with the exception of certain high gravity or limited releases. Crowlers and growlers are available to go, as well as prepackaged bottles and cans from time to time. The latest listings can be found on BeerMenus.

Mug Club memberships are available for beer, coffee, or both. The beer program is $50 per year and entitles the holder to $1 off each beer ordered plus access to monthly interactive events with experts. February’s featured event is a Goose Island vertical tasting with a short discussion about cellaring and aging beer.

The knowledgeable staff behind the bar consists of paid employees and volunteers led by three directors who each bring an aspect of the vision to life; Bekah Wallace in charge of Community and Connections, Ryan Wallace taking care of the Beer and Business aspects, and Billy Kangas leading the Coffee and Causes portion. “We invest a good amount of time in training volunteers, helping them to get employment, and empowering them in the areas they are passionate about that help our city,” said Ryan Wallace.

Cultivate

Billy Kangas, Bekah Wallace, Ryan Wallace

People young and old flock to Cultivate for a wide range of reasons, from the impressive beer offerings to the ever-evolving list of activities and opportunities that take place there based on what the community desires. You can learn about year-round gardening, be tutored in physics, play chess and other board games, or simply sit and knit with others.

While there, you may hear jazz from local musicians, poetry and curated readings, or a group practicing conversational French. There’s a new moms meet up, an empty-nesters gathering, and one for the generation who are acting as caregivers for their aging parents. Planned events can be found on the large wall calendar in the taproom or on their Facebook page

There are a variety of baked goods and sandwiches available onsite to enjoy with the beverages. An expanded menu with larger artisan sandwiches and small plate offerings featuring up to 90% Michigan made and produced ingredients will be launched in March.

Recently the beer garden was transformed from a summer-only space to an enclosed area with patio heaters to accommodate the swells of patrons wishing to enjoy the sense of community while having a beer or two.

As Cultivate grows it is finding new ways of evolving and adapting to fulfill their mission of feeding the hungry. Over the summer the volunteer-tended garden in the back grew vegetables that were donated to Food Gatherers. Current projects include creating a “Hunger Map” for Washtenaw County, “which is a full assessment of both needs in our county and what non-profits are doing to meet those needs in what areas,” Ryan Wallace said. “Our goal is to create something that everyone can use in order to address the issue of hunger and to help us know what solutions we need to create moving forward,” he added.

 

New Holland Brewing

New Holland Brewing Company announced on December 15 that they are entering into a “long-term partnership agreement” with Pabst Brewing Company that will “focus on the national distribution and sales of New Holland’s full portfolio of beer.” Effective first quarter 2017, Pabst will manage New Holland’s wholesale network to help New Holland “accelerate growth and drive success at the shelf.” This rather unprecedented relationship, of course, prompted interest and questions.

new holland

Brett VanderKamp and Fred Bueltmann

Brett VanderKamp, founder and president of New Holland, is transparent about the decision, explaining why he believes New Holland and Pabst are good for each other. After a proven track record of 20 years, New Holland is a “well groomed and well healed” brewery of modest size that has the white space to grow at a pace appropriate for an opportunity for Pabst to acclimate into the American craft beer segment. “From a portfolio perspective, this partnership adds a well-rounded value for them,” VanderKamp stated.

Currently, New Holland is distributed in 34 states. Although achieving presence in all 50 is certainly not beyond possibility, it’s not part of the 2017 strategy with Pabst. VanderKamp’s immediate goal is to broaden and deepen their exposure in their present markets, as well as consider their potential to expand into additional select states as it makes sense.

What does Pabst bring to the table? An entire sales organization, which includes a robust national sales team to manage the distributor. Pabst has the mobility to operate across their geography with precision all the way down to shelf. VanderKamp values the reach that Pabst has—allowing them to have significant conversations with key people in different regions that New Holland hasn’t had the human resources to tackle.

pabst

Before deciding to commit to Pabst, VanderKamp admitted that in some cases, reviewing proposals from other potential partners included ownership percentages exchanging hands. In order to protect themselves, VanderKamp said he and his team created “guardrails around what was really important to us and the New Holland brand.” Pabst will be financially incentivized for their efforts, but New Holland retains sole ownership, and does not relinquish any equity to Pabst.

For VanderKamp, the intangibles of a partnership like this are just as important as the financial bottom line. “We quickly aligned on what matters in both of our organizations. With Pabst, We’re a cultural fit, a trust fit, and a value fit.” To honor the integrity of New Holland’s mission and vision, to continue to grow the company, and take their brands across the country, sharing the New Holland story, VanderKamp felt compelled to go with his gut.

“At the end of the day,” VanderKamp revealed, “I had to simply decide if I liked the guys [at Pabst].” When asked if he thought he could sit across the table and have a beer with Pabst chairman Eugene Kashper and the rest of the Pabst team, and actually enjoy it, VanderKamp laughed, and replied, “Yeah. I could have many.”

When addressing the public’s perception that a move like this could mean backlash for New Holland, VanderKamp acknowledged the risk, but dismissed any threat that could be associated with Pabst, particularly “when you compare them to the most notable behemoth that’s out there right now.” VanderKamp admires the role Kashper has played in this partnership. “Eugene is an entrepreneur through and through. He was intimate in this deal, very hands on, and is incredibly approachable. From a leadership standpoint, working alongside Pabst is really not that scary at all.” From a social or consumer standpoint, it’s PBR—a domestic that indexes incredibly successfully against craft beer. And, as VanderKamp playfully jabbed, “…probably also in your fridge at home right now, too.”

 

thanksgiving

Despite what some of you may think, there are those of us around Thanksgiving that are not daydreaming about wolfing down turkey for the feast. Some of us are looking for an alternative to the traditional centerpiece and main course, and I figure it’s only fitting that we get some beer to pair with our new entrees as well. Thankfully, Michigan provides some killer beers for us to pair it with.

thanksgiving

I wanted you all to know that, yes, there is such a thing as stuffing stuffed pork chops. It’s exactly what it sounds like—in that our beloved stuffing is in fact jammed right into your juicy chops for an extra level of enjoyment. The pork lends its meaty flavors to the stuffing, while the stuffing itself creates an almost “inside-out” sandwich like effect. I’m thinking that we’ll want a beer to resonate with, or connect matching flavors in both the food and beer, for this dish. Cedar Springs Brewing Company offers up the Küsterer Munich Dunkel, and I think it would be the perfect accompaniment. The bready and slightly nutty flavors along with the subtle chocolate aromatics of the beer will match with the obvious “breadiness” of the stuffing. The clean and balanced profile of the beer, as well as its carbonation, can cut through some of the fats from the pork. This creates a balanced back and forth between both the beer and food, because the beer acts as an extension of the stuffing flavors to connect the pairing. Though the beer is not bottled or canned, be sure to grab yourself a growler of it on tap at the brewery or from local bars carrying their product.

thanksgivingHoney glazed ham is a personal favorite of mine, and it finds quite the companionship when paired with beer. Because of its sweeter flavor, and its powerful salty and savory deliciousness, we’ll need a beer that matches in intensity. I’m proposing Odd Side Ales’ Barrel Aged Sweet Potato Souffle Rye. It’s big, bold, boozy, and—quite literally—a sweet potato pie tasting beer. When lining up its sweetness (though not cloying in any manner) with the honey sweetness of the ham, you find a tasty similarity. Even the honey and the sweet potatoes will find harmony together! The rye and spice characters from the beer are then highlighted by the sweetness and create the added layer of difference or complexity to the pairing. The alcohol warmth will cut through the fat, meld with the sweetness, and make your insides feel hot and happy. I mean, hey, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of booze and ham having a relationship together (rum ham anyone?) so let’s see what the delicious fuss is about. This is one of those pairings that can create a lot of interesting flavor combinations, so sip slowly, savor every bite, and enjoy the layers.

thanksgivingSausage stuffed butternut squash is a new one for my list, and of course it sounds oh so perfect for beer. With the combination of potential herbs and spices in the sausage, and the sweetness of the squash, this portion of the meal would be quite happy with Stormcloud Brewing Company’s 228 Tripel. It’s a Belgian Tripel, built ‘to style’, that would tackle just about any combination of sausage or squash types that one would want for this dish. Squashes tend to lend a subtle sweetness that can be whisked away with the drier, more highly attenuated and more highly carbonated body from the Tripel. It can also contrast and create layers with the various spices and herbs that are in the sausage, depending on which variety you choose. Pepper, sage, garlic, and beyond, the Tripel’s yeast and their resulting phenols and esters will highlight and enhance the spices you encounter. The Tripel is a beer lover’s ultimate pairing tool, especially when a multitude of flavors are present. In this situation, with a couple of unknown creative opportunities with the recipe (again, type of sausage and squash), all you have to worry about is cracking it open and enjoying it, because this beer will be able to stand up to the job regardless.

thanksgiving

Though we see this next dish on many occasions, it can make a seamless transition into your Thanksgiving meal as well. Beef short ribs are savory little niblets of awesome that can be absolutely crushed and enjoyed thoroughly with the Penetration Porter from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company. We’re once again encountering salty and savory characteristics in our entree, so let’s take a new route and join it with the roasty, toasty, citrusy, and bitter brew that is the Penetration Porter. The roasty bitterness of the beer will cut through the meat’s fats, as the toasty bits will gain a friend along the charred and crispy edges of our beef. Add that layer of citrus to gain a roast and orange citrus tasting blend, and the meal has officially transformed.

thanksgivingGoing on the ‘gamey’ realm, duck can make for a delicious alternative bird to the traditional turkey. I recommend doing a roast duck with a cranberry glaze, and pairing it with Greyline Brewing Company’s Schadenfreude German Wheat. The soft and pillowy mouthfeel from the wheat is going to coat the duck and embrace it. The cherry glaze is going to find a home in that wheat and allow itself to be highlighted by it. Those roasted, caramelized edges on the duck will contrast beautifully with the sweet cherries, and the higher carbonation from the beer is going to absolutely clear our palate between each bite so we can keep diving into more food and never stop because it’s Thanksgiving and we must press on. Be sure to grab the Schadenfreude from Greyline Brewing’s taproom, which offers 32oz sealed crowlers of their beers as they are not in bottles and cans for distribution.

You see? Turkey isn’t the end all be all for Thanksgiving. Go a different route if you are so inclined, and we’ll just keep providing ways in which you can enjoy it thoroughly with our favorite beverage. For this day of thanks, I just want to be sure you all have some suggestions for imbibing on those fine hours of gluttony. It seems to only make sense.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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