brew export

Phenom businesswoman Shannon Long, 24, has quickly made a respectable impression in the worldwide beer industry. Many people recognize her as host of the television show Pure Brews America, though her fame there is only part of the bigger picture. Long is also the founder, owner, and CEO of Brew Export, a company based in Michigan that works with breweries across the United States to export their beer to foreign countries.

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Her business success has been earned through hard work and dedication. Long graduated from Michigan State University in December of 2014 with two degrees through the university’s renowned programs, one in International Relations from James Madison College and one in Marketing from Eli Broad College of Business. While in school she served as the President of the MSU Marketing Association as well as Vice President of the MSU Entrepreneurship Association. She also worked for the Food Export Association of the Midwest, the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s International Marketing program, and CH Robinson Worldwide Logistics, solidifying her knowledge of how to move a product through the channels of trade.

Long points to her Senior Capstone project as fuel for the decision to create Brew Export. In the final semester “I had a professor walk in on the first day and say ‘take one product and export it to one market.’ All of the other people in the class were picking things like peanut butter to Germany or the water bottles with the filters in them to Africa.” She thought those were all fine and good, but not for her. She said “screw that, I’m doing beer, and I’m going to do Founders craft beer to Singapore.” The subject was based on her growing appreciation of the craft culture. “I was deadset and gathering tons of information. I was way more excited about this thesis than everyone else and I went all out and ended up getting the highest grade in the class,” she added.

brew export

There were several job offers available for her to earn $50-60,000 a year right out of college but that “wouldn’t have been fun, that wouldn’t have been exciting, and it wouldn’t have been ‘me’, I couldn’t do it,” she said. Within weeks of graduating she entered The Hatching business pitch competition in Lansing and won. That convinced her to form the Limited Liability Company in March of 2015 and begin the arduous task of establishing an alcohol export business. While the TV show development was happening simultaneously, she built the brand portfolio of breweries and fielded multitudes of international requests for her company’s services.

She obtained a TTB wholesalers license and approached the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for approval to operate. “It took them 9 months to license my business. I didn’t get licensed until May of 2016. They had never heard of an export company, even anything of the concept that I was planning on doing,” Long said. Many meetings were required as both sides worked toward a definitive description of the business and researched applicable laws. Without a set precedence to follow “they were literally making up the rules in front of me, essentially,” she said.

According to Long, there aren’t a lot of companies in her line of work. “No one’s doing it quite like I’m doing it, that’s for sure. A lot of people will just sell the beer, kind of in a broker situation,” she said. “They’ve got some extra beer so they just move it. I’m only aware of four other people in the entire United States doing anything close to what I’m doing,” she asserted. Importers could theoretically work directly with the breweries but that’s potentially overwhelming for the brewery. “What Brew Export and I really try to offer is the increased sales, you’re growing your international sales without the increased overhead of hiring internally an international salesperson,” she added.

Long created detailed Standard Operating Procedure checklists for each country and fine-tunes them to suit individual shipments. Approximately 25 pages of documentation are required per transaction, including a notarized Certificate of Origin sent ahead by mail. If the pallets being used aren’t plastic they must be fumigated and certified pest-free. Each product requires a label declaring it as an export, as well as having the ABV stated and the date it was packaged. A Bill of Lading describes the shipment’s contents. Upon arrival in the receiving country another label is added with their mandatory information similar to the United States Surgeon General warning. These legal details are among the reasons a brewery may not want to take on the responsibility of exporting themselves.

brew export

Brew Export’s first shipment went out in June of 2016 containing beer from Back Forty Beer Company of Gadsden, Alabama. Since then over a quarter of a million bottles have made their way across the Pacific Ocean. By the end of this year the company aims to be actively exporting to France, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. They’re projected to ship 3.5 to 4 million bottles from more than 15 American breweries in 2017, the company’s first full year of operation.

In late September of this year, a truck hauling a refrigerated shipping container loaded with pallets of Michigan brewed goodness from Arcadia Ales, Dark Horse Brewing Company, and Greenbush Brewing Company left the warehouse dock at Arcadia’s Kalamazoo facility on its way to Asia alongside more product from Back Forty. The container carried 32,832 bottles and 40 one-way kegs. In an ambitious 5 day push including this shipment, the company sent an impressive 115,776 bottles and 129 kegs total. Long said so far her shipments have been maxed out by weight rather than container space because canned beer doesn’t sell well yet in Asia so they have to send glass bottles in spite of their relative heaviness.

brew export
Throughout the beer’s lengthy journey it is constantly kept at an ideal 4.4 degrees Celsius (approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit) to ensure freshness of the product. Brew Export’s commitment to fully supporting their clients includes assistance in selling the beer once it reaches its destination. They use trusted subcontractor employees to do so, but when the September shipment finally arrived in China in mid-November, Long herself was there with a group of American industry people to receive it and participate in events showcasing the exported brews in Shanghai, Beijing, and Taipei, Taiwan planned for every day of the trip.

Long said she chose to export to China first because she sees the country is ready to move high volumes of American beer. The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. “They’re the largest beer drinking country on the planet and they love our beer,” she said. Translating beer names from English to Chinese is a challenge though. Cultural meanings and subtle word play get lost in translation, meaning beers like Cheap Date and Jaw Jacker are renamed by a bilingual brand building team in an attempt to maintain some of their character. Back Forty beer names such as Naked Pig and Freckle Belly may have southern connotations that Long, as a Michigander, admits she probably wouldn’t understand. It’s an aspect of the job that changes with every shipment and keeps things interesting.
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While she enjoys being involved in Pure Brews America and her presence on television will continue for the foreseeable future, Long admits “Brew Export is my baby at the end of the day, this is where my passion is, and my life goal.” Both projects play roles in helping the other succeed as opportunities often happily coincide. “My true north,” she added, “is to position American craft beer as the preeminent source for beer around the world. When you think Napa Valley you think of the best wine in the world, when you hear Michigan I want people to think it’s the best beer. Every thing I do points toward that.”

brew export gives a special thank you to Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo for opening their facility to us during the loading of their shipment and allowing us the freedom to follow their staff so we could share the actual export process with you. Cheers!


Photography: Steph Harding

ABV: 5.8%
IBUs: 48

Aroma: Rapunzel has let really her hair down here (this pun doesn’t even work that well in this instance, but I wanted to get it out of the way early). The aroma is pretty notable with very forward wheat character, balanced nice and tall with citrus and tropical fruit from the Michigan-grown hops.

The aroma is fantastically on par with many of the wheat IPAs out there, and I’ll be the first to say that the style isn’t used nearly often enough. The plush malt character provided by wheat generally works really well with American hop bitterness in a moderately dry beer.

Appearance: Just as one should suspect, this beer pours with a bright white and rather dense foam atop a distinctively golden ale. I presume this is where the name of the beer comes from, and I’ll give it to them — it’s quite golden. (I may have spent a solid minute or two just watching the bubbles travel through the ever-so-slightly hazy beverage.)

Taste: The Michigan-grown hops are surprisingly subtle in bitterness and flavor. Although still quite forward, it’s a bit refreshing to get an IPA that has a truly careful balance of IBUs to its slightly malty body. The domestic wheat character is pretty forward on the tongue, but still leaves the body a bit on the lighter side.

Mouthfeel: This is where the wheat really shines. Because of the way the proteins in wheat are developed during the mash (or steeping of the grains to convert starches into fermentable sugars), the final product ends up with a distinctive creaminess. Proteins have certain stickiness, and it just so happens that wheat provides an especially high number of these.

When the final, carbonated product has this elevated elasticity, the bubbles rise to the top of the beer and stay there much longer than they would in a liquid that is not so sticky.

Hopefully, you’re wondering how this relates to mouthfeel, and this is the exciting part. When we pull this tasty libation into our mouths, the liquefied and dissolved carbon dioxide (carbonation) is agitated, and exits the solution as a gas, creating — you guessed it — foam.

What many of us don’t realize is that the foam builds up in our mouths, but not in the same way that drinking off the top of a poorly served beverage does.

In this case, the foam is more adequately mixed with the liquid and ultra dense, which provides a sensation similar to sipping on a properly steamed latte or hot chocolate. Wheat has an incredibly long history in beer, dating back to when people thought beer was fermented by spiritual activity, and even then they understood the importance of wheat in our ales and lagers.

Owner Tim Suprise has immense pride in Arcadia, as well as Battle Creek and Scotland. It was particularly evident on Saturday as the Battle Creek brewery celebrated its 18th Anniversary and Highland Christmas at its original location.

“One of the nice things about owning your own brewery is that you can decide what kind of things you make that become resonating annual events,” said Suprise. “This has been one of them.”

The festivities began at 9 a.m. with breakfast — including Arcadia’s famous corned beef hash — and progressed well into the evening with special menu offerings, timed beer releases and live music.

Around the supper hour, the Kalamazoo Pipe Band played as a cast of characters assembled to perform Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis.” The traditional poem was recited by Suprise, dressed in authentic Scottish garb including a kilt of tartan representing his heritage in clan Gordon. A sgian-dubh tucked into the top of kilt hose and a sporran made from a river otter completed the costume.

The haggis, made in the old world way with lamb offal, was sourced from WA Bean in Maine. WA Bean is one of a few butcher shops in the country capable of producing it using Scottish tradition while meeting USDA meat standards.

This year’s Anniversary Ale is Loch’d Up, a special edition bourbon barrel-aged version of the Loch Down Scotch Ale. Weighing in with an ABV of 12%, this beer warmed guests from the inside out.

Celtic music performed by the Northern Indiana band Soltre provided the atmosphere of a pub in Scotland.

“It’s important that you have some kind of distinctiveness to your events that give people a chance to say ‘this is unique to the community’ and you’re doing something good with your money,” said Suprise.

Proceeds from the admission donations benefited Food Bank of South Central Michigan.

“This is where we got our start, we embrace our past and our terroir. We’re as committed as we ever have been in 18 years to maintaining at ground zero in Battle Creek,” Suprise said.

“We weren’t able to get it done in Kalamazoo on plan A in 1996, we were able to get it done in Battle Creek. We’re here, and we were in a position to add the Kalamazoo location because of what we were able to do here for 16 years ahead of that. So I can assure you that we are as committed to this community as we ever have been and we think it’s very important that we maintain our roots and honor them.”

Suprise is involved in the community as a member of the Battle Creek Downtown Development Authority and the Cereal City Development Corporation.

Summer means salad time — the vegetable are at their peak, it’s hot out and you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Salads just honestly hit the spot on a summer day, but we can tend to fall into a salad “rut”. Anyone else out there sick of iceberg, tomato, cheese and croutons? And don’t get me started with bottled dressings….unimaginative, full of corn syrup, and just downright lame.

This salad has several things going for it, including magical roasted beets and a homemade vinaigrette made with my favorite ingredient, BEER. By reducing the beer down to an almost syrupy consistency, you get all that great flavor in a concentrated form. Pick a malt-forward beer for this technique, as any bitter flavor the beer has will just be amplified by reducing it.

We don’t want to overwhelm the salad, we want a great balance of flavors. I picked Arcadia Ales’ Whitsun, which has a bit of orange and coriander in it, ingredients that you can amplify in the dressing, layering flavors.

With the slight bitterness of the beer offset by a bit of honey (for natural sweetness), we can get perfect balance. Add some zing by using frozen orange juice concentrate — its intense flavor won’t water down the salad. I keep a can in my freezer specifically for cooking, and use it in dressings and marinades all the time.

This dressing can be made up ahead of time, and will keep in a mason jar in the fridge for about two weeks.

Chefs talk about balance in a dish all the time, and home cooks should too. The roasted beets will provide sweetness and earthiness, contrasted by the crispness of the lettuce, crunchiness of the nuts, and creaminess of the goat cheese. When you toss the whole thing with a beer dressing, it’s the perfect summer salad.

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Whitsun Beet Salad

For the salad:
4-6 beets, trimmed
6 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (optional)
1/4 cup chopped toasted pistachios
1/2 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese

For the dressing:
1 bottle wheat beer (like Arcadia Ales Whitsun)
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coriander
salt and pepper

For the salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beets, then wrap them up in foil, and place in a baking pan. Roast the beets until tender. Depending on the size of the beets, this could take up to 1 1/2 hours. When done, let cool, then peel the beets. Slice into wedges.

Meanwhile make the dressing, pour the beer in to a saucepan, and over medium heat, reduce down to 1/4 a cup. Whisk everything else together, except the oil. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking. The dressing should start to thicken up into an emulsion. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.

Toss the greens with the dressing and layout on a platter. Then toss the beets with some of the dressing and place them on top of the greens. Sprinkle on the mint if you are using it, the pistachios, and crumble the goat cheese all over. Add another couple grinds of pepper. Serve the salad right away, with another cold Whitsun to pair it with.

KALAMAZOO — A West Michigan Beer Tour is a long day, but a long day worth the cost and a hell of a lot of fun.

MittenBrew recently tagged along with Lisa Faber and Beth Liberty, partners (along with their husbands) of West Michigan Beer Tours, Inc. for ‘Women of West Michigan Beer.’  About 25 craft beer enthusiasts signed up for this Noon to 5 p.m. event, geared towards showcasing and meeting women who are leading the way in the Michigan craft beer community.

West Michigan Beer Tours is a relatively new company, with its inaugural tour in June of last year. So far, they’ve had a lot of success with their unique public and private tours for craft beer lovers. Offering plenty of tours through the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and close-by areas, the group is looking to expand to the I-94 corridor soon.

Lisa and Beth don’t often host a tour, but they told their husbands that it was only fitting they get to lead this one.


Registration and check in starts at Tibbs Brewing Company in Kalamazoo, a small locally-owned nano brewery. Cindee Tibbs, six months pregnant and wearing a company shirt christened with FV1 (fermentation vessel #1) on her stomach, greets us at the door.

An initial Q&A starts the day while everyone samples some pints, like the Citra Your Ass Down IPA or Hell-Jen Belgian Tripel. “We opened on December 6, 2013 and the community has been amazing, very supportive, everyone has been wonderful. I can’t say enough about how great and supportive Kalamazoo has been, everyone reaching out to make us feel welcome. It’s really nice,” said Tibbs.

Cindees’ interest in brewing was sparking because of her husband, but they both soon realized it was her who had the better palate. Taste testing product and offering suggestions for tweaking recipes, Cindee is an active part in the brewery, not just the paperwork girl (though she takes care of that as well). Since her pregnancy, the tastings have of course stopped, but she’s still working right alongside her husband.

Tibbs is already very active in the community and involved with other local businesses, like their recent collaboration with The Cupcake ZOO on treats made with G’Mornin Coffee Stout and the For Richer or Porter coffee cake.

“Tibbs is all about our customer. We want to connect with our customers; we want to be that ‘Cheers’ location and make sure they are getting high quality beer, at a great price and in a good atmosphere.”

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After registration, it’s on to the bus to our first stop, Hop Head Farms. On the way to our first destination, Shannon Kuchera, the Communications Director from the Michigan Brewers Guild, shares some information with attendees about the Guild and what they do for the industry and for the craft beer fans alike.


After a little drive, we arrive at Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners, a 30-acre farm that supplies some of your favorites with what makes beer, beer.

Bonnie Steinman is part of the husband and wife team that runs Hop Head. Today, she is leading our tour from entrance to field to harvesting room, with beer samples featuring their product along the way. Pouring is the ‘Beer Broads,’ a local group of women who get together over a pint on a semi-regular basis.

Seven samples in all are offered throughout the stop, featuring almost all of the nine varietals that are grown by Hop Head. Manda Geiger from Pike 51 is on hand, sharing her KUSH IPA Dry Hopped with HHF Saaz and one hopped with HHF Glacier.

A tasting list with descriptions is graciously provided, and we spend time talking about the nuances between varietals as we go through the facility, starting off in the main area, tasting the Citra Melon from Paw Paw and the Multigrain Mutt from Ruperts Brew House in Kalamazoo. “So basically, the citra and melon hops play off each other in this one, but the melon mellows it out,” says Bonnie about the Citra Melon Session Ale.

We make our way towards the hop fields, acres of poles waiting to be covered in vines. “We grow 30,000 hop plants and 9 different varieties of hops,” she says. “We supply over 50 breweries throughout the United States — not just Michigan.”

Bonnie shares as she shows us the small, asparagus hop shoots that are coming up at the base of each pole. Within the next week, Hop Head will use a machine to score the tops. After the crowns are pruned, two ropes will be tied to each crown and three vines (or hardy shoots) will be trained up each rope.

“We can do about 4,000 ropes a day — that’s kind of slow, actually, in comparison to other places out west. We are still perfecting our system,” says Bonnie.

Our next stop is the harvesting room, where we meet Griselda, Hop Head’s massive harvester, complete with gears and wheels and conveyers that are all a little Willy Wonka. It gets even better as we make our way into a room underneath the oast tower, looking up from the blowers into three floors that are actually drawers, designed to dry the hops as needed depending on variety.

We end with a few more beer samples and Bonnie’s special Hop Cheese, a secret mix that includes beer and hops, of course.

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Between stops, Lisa and Beth keep the ladies well hydrated and make sure no one lacks for snacks. It’s a great atmosphere, and as the day processes, more and more strangers become friends and share their experiences with Michigan brew, homebrewing horror stories and successes, and simply chat about everyday things one talks about over a pint.


It’s on to the brand new Boatyard Brewing in Kalamazoo, where we meet Amy Waugaman, a pink-booted brewer who has a rather unique road to working in the industry.

“I drank my first beer when I was 35. I was into big red wines, and I went through a divorce and decided to try things I was opposed to before for no reason, and beer was one of them,” she says.

Waugaman pours us samples of Kissing the Gunners Daughter — a traditional Klosch which she says is great for mowing your lawn of sitting on your boat. Lightly hopped, it’s an easy drinker, perfect for summer.

“I started to drink beers in this area, and went up to Founders and had a Red’s Rye and fell in love, then decided I wanted to try to homebrew. I have a degree in microbiology and chemistry and then went to culinary school, so it made sense. My homebrew was pretty good and I wanted to do more.”

Our next sample is a Blonde Ale, a malt forward Bière de Garde brewed very true to style called Currents Will Shift. “So I discovered this place, sent an email that basically said I want to learn commercial brewing. Teach me, and I will give you my time. Bryan and Dan, owners of Boatyard, started teaching me and it went from there. It’s my passion and I love it and I don’t feel like I’m ever working.”

The last beer is Swearing Sailor Sasion, so good I go home with a growler full. It’s back onto the bus where Waugaman joins us as we make our way to Arcadia.

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On the way to our final stop, Beth Raich from Brew Hauler demos her product and provides goodie bags for everyone. An ingeniously simple little contraption made from sturdy webbing that fits snugly around your growler to make carrying easier, this product came about as a way to use leftover materials from the Brew Hauler’s main seller, the larger version made for carboys. It was a nice gesture and very usable during the trip.


Our last stop of the day was a treat — Arcadia’s brand new Kalamazoo facility, which is having its grand opening on May 8. It was the brewery’s soft opening, and we enjoyed a full free pint courtesy of the tour and had the option to eat ample, decadent BBQ that assaulted our nostils when we walked in.

Mardy Suprise, co-owner along with her husband Tim, stepped outside with the group to talk about Arcadia, from opening the Battle Creek location 18 years ago to the launch of the Kalamazoo branch.

Mardy has been a part of Michigan’s craft beer scene since inception, and shared stories of falling pizza ovens, exploding water drains and how Arcadia has reached the point where it is today. Wife, mother and entrepreneur, Mardy is very much a part of daily operations at Arcadia. Like the other women on our tour that day, she has made her way in what is still considered a man’s world, shattering stereotypes and breaking barriers. “I did not sleep at all, for the first 10 years,” she jokes.

The clock strikes five, and the weary attendees make their way back to the bus to end where we started, at Tibbs Brewing. The hardier of the bunch stay at Arcadia and opt to walk back, but the ladies at MittenBrew had had their fill and headed home, laden with beer and swag, great photos and good stories.