Long-time beer and spirits professional Fred Bueltmann is taking a sabbatical this spring from his role at New Holland Brewing Company to pursue a passion project. Taking time off from his role as an owner and VP, Brand and Lifestyle, Bueltmann is diving headfirst into an immersive project to further understand and explain the cultural shift and craft renaissance our country has witnessed over the last thirty years.  Together with artist and photographer Kyle Bice, the two are traversing the country to visit makers of all kinds, across many product categories, in search of stories that will reveal deeper truths in This Craft Nation.

craft nation

The stories will come to life across several channels, including podcast episodes, blog posts and magazine articles, eventually culminating in Bueltmann’s second book, This Craft Nation. “I felt increasingly allied and aware of my philosophy around the connected lifestyle, after writing and publishing Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy (2013),” Bueltmann states.  “Themes like mindfulness and collaboration grew in strength and clarity through speaking projects that followed, including at TedX and other industry keynotes.  I’m inspired to help people increase their awareness and understanding around this cultural shift, which is so much more than a sales trend. I want to invite everyone to connect more deeply with whatever interests them, wherever they are in the world.”

A freelance artist and a graduate of the American Academy of Art, Kyle will document the characters met along the way through photography and his unique style of portraits, in which he uses beer as paint. “I look forward to setting off on an adventure to record these stories with mediums old and new, to share with the world the depth, richness, and resurgence of tradition in the craft renaissance,” states Bice.

craft nationThe pair have an ambitious, twenty-plus city tour ahead, circling the country from coast to coast, intersecting with the American Distillers Institute’s annual conference (Baltimore, MD), The Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference (Washington DC), and GonzoFest (Louisville, KY), an annual gathering celebrating another writer and artist duo, Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman – a pairing well known for their colorful tales from the road.

“This movement is bigger than beer, bigger than food and drink,” Bueltmann states.  “American craftspeople and artists have forged this bewildering shift, integrating old-school techniques with modern technologies, reviving traditions once on the verge of extinction.  It has inspired a massive change in how and what we value as consumers, and I’m looking forward to exploring it fully”

Fred and Kyle depart on April 2nd, 2017. To keep up with their journey, visit their website or follow @ThisCraftNation on social media.


Who is This Craft Nation?

Fred Bueltmann: aka The Beervangelist, is part owner of New Holland Brewing Company, where he serves as Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle.  He is a nationally recognized expert on pairing beer and food, and a Certified Cicerone®. Bueltmann is past president of the Michigan Brewers Guild and recipient of their prestigious “Tom Burns Award” recognizing the pioneering spirit of the “Great Beer State.” Fred serves as a judge for the Brewer’s Association’s Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup.  His first book, “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a seasonal tome on pairing, cooking and hosting with craft beer, and was recognized as an Indie Book Award finalist.  Fred hosts and produces New Holland’s “Stop & Taste Conversations” podcast, and speaks to audiences large and small around the country, which has included serving as 2013 Keynote Speaker for the Michigan Restaurant Association and speaking at TedX Macatawa in 2015. @Beervangelist

Kyle Bice is a Chicago based freelance artist, specializing in illustration and fine art.  A 2002 graduate of the American Academy of Art with a BFA in painting, Kyle regularly freelances for New Holland Brewing and is the lead artist for The Monster Weekly, a blog that promotes childhood literacy.  He is the author and illustrator of A Book of Dwarves and launched, a site devoted to art and interesting interviews about people in and around the world of craft beer as well as a travel blog focusing on Kyle’s adventures as a painter with a unique medium. Kyle’s eye for composition and broad range of styles and mediums, including photography, give him the ability to adapt and capture the essence of what’s around him. @BeerPortraits



HOLLAND – The corner of Eighth Street and College Avenue became a gastronomic empire on Tuesday evening.

New Holland Brewing Company hosted “Rocktoberfest,” a star-studded event featuring a five-course meal with beer and music pairings curated by celebrity chefs and beer experts. The festivities were a benefit for Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank. Seventy five guests were treated to the sold-out feast for the senses.

In addition to the usual theme of pairing a food with a drink, live music by The Schrock Brothers band accompanied each course. While each dish was being served, they played a song chosen by the chef who created it.

New Holland Chef Dale Beaubien helped shape the monumental event.

“We started out wanting to showcase what the chefs in Holland can do, and we ended up with something far from it,” said Beaubien. “A lot of those guys had moved on or had scheduling issues. We planned it far enough in the future that we were like ‘Let’s get some of our other friends around’ and then it just happened.”

The chemistry of those involved was noticeable, and conversations observed between participants were nearly reverent.

The evening began with a cocktail reception with curation done by Beervangelist Fred Bueltmann, Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle and Partner of New Holland Brewing Company. Bueltmann is also the author of “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy”. He chose The Band’s “Ophelia” to be played while serving a Manhattan made with Zeppelin Bend whiskey, a vermouth made from Fenn Valley Pinot Noir, Michigan honey, lavender, and more.

The meal unfolded seamlessly, moving at a pace that allowed for immersion in the moments of bliss upon taking the first bite and sip of each sublime pairing as its song played in the background.

The first course of sautéed blood pudding was served with Poet Oatmeal Stout and Rick James’s “Cold Blooded,” as chosen by Chef Brandon Johns of Grange in Ann Arbor. At Grange, Johns is known for creating unique whole-animal dishes using locally sourced ingredients.

Home turf Chef Beaubien’s turkey tamale was served with The Carhartt Woodsman, a barrel-aged Pale Ale, and “Tres Hombres” by ZZ Top in the second course. Winter squash and Mayocoba beans complemented the mildly spiced tamale.

Chef Matthew Millar, a 20-year veteran in the West Michigan restaurant scene, chose “Eat a Peach” by The Allman Brothers to accompany the third course of smoked magret duck with spiced peach butter and Into The Rabbit Hole Maibock. Millar’s latest project, The Southerner, is located in Saugatuck.

The Rolling Stones’s “Goat’s Head Soup” title partially described course four—a goat combination of knackwurst, slow-cooked leg, smoked loin, and jus by Chef Paul Virant, a legend of the Chicago-area restaurant scene. Virant’s beer choice was uniquely tied into the evening as well. Schrocktoberfest, a Michigan-grown Oktoberfest Lager, was  brewed in the New Holland pub with the band earlier this year.

Course five was a very indulgent dessert manifested from dark chocolate, cocoa butter, fermented chili, orange, and coriander by Chef Matt Pietsch of Salt of the Earth in Fennville. This was paired with a Flight of the Dragons presentation: three snifters of Dragon’s Milk including the original, a coffee-infused version, and a rum barrel-aged version. Hoots and Hellmouth’s “Watch Your Mouth” played along, as patrons raved about the spectacular finale.

Rounding out the curating and pairing panel were New Holland’s own Pub Brewer Steve “Bert” Berthel and UK beer expert Melissa Cole.

Berthel brings a wealth of beer and food knowledge to the table as a brewer in Michigan for nearly 20 years and a proponent of local agriculture. He is committed to locally sourcing 100 percent of all ingredients used in the pub brew house in 2016.

Cole is the author of “Let Me Tell You About Beer,” which has been hailed as the perfect beginner’s guide to beer. She was brought into the project by Fred Bueltmann.

“Fred and I have known each other for a number of years now. The more we’ve talked about beer and food and the way we want to change the way that people think about it and talk about it and compare them—that’s when we we really click.”

While she was in town she also participated in a collaboration brew— details of it will be revealed later.

Andrew Steiner, Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s Communication Specialist, said, “We were thrilled to be able to have a presence at this event, it’s so special. We also think when people are eating, that’s a great time to talk to them about local hunger and about getting food to those who don’t have enough to eat.”

Proceeds from a silent auction also benefited the food bank. Prizes ranged from signed books to dinner packages.

Sponsored by New Holland Brewing

Photography: Steph Harding & Scott Meivogel

Fred Bueltmann joins Pat Evans to discuss New Holland’s recent announcement to use all Michigan-grown ingredients in its pub release beers.

Fred Bueltmann joins Pat Evans to discuss New Holland’s recent announcement to use all Michigan-grown ingredients in its pub release beers.

HOLLAND — Sensible. Balanced. Artistic. Encouraging. Adventurous. Innovative.

All great personality traits. These qualities, too, are ways of describing one of Michigan’s pioneer breweries. But the personality of the state’s third highest producing brewery — New Holland Brewing Co. — cannot be summed up in just these words.

“We see our brand in a few different ways,” said Fred Bueltmann, one of three New Holland managing owners. “One is we are adventurous and innovative, so our customers do expect to see new things from us. But that’s paired with a real balance and sensibility.”

New Holland’s balance includes not just the brews themselves, but the entire portfolio of beers as a whole. This requires a large commitment from the brewery, but it is part of an effort to bring both connoisseurs and newcomers to the craft beer table.

“We see ourselves as a good host,” Bueltmann said. “We can lose people by being too intense and not managing the invite. It’s a responsibility that all craft producers have.”

New Holland’s portfolio is certainly broad, consisting of seven year-round brews, three seasonals and more than a dozen limited releases each year. Within these three main categories, the brewery is noted for its high-gravity, wood-aged brews and a growing number of sours.

“We like having range. We like having choice,” Bueltmann said. “We’re committed to keeping that.”

Distributed in 15 states, the brewery’s most-recognized beer is bourbon barrel stout Dragon’s Milk. A close second is Mad Hatter IPA, with several variations released annually as a seasonal and five limited releases coming this month.

“We’re not afraid of stretching our creativity in the least bit,” said co-founder Brett VanderKamp. “We’ll try anything.”

The story of New Holland is the archetype for most breweries in the ever-growing craft microbrew industry. It started with two college buddies who loved beer and got into homebrewing in college — VanderKamp, current company president, and Jason Spaulding, now owner of Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids — as they began to see perhaps this passion could translate into business.

After moving to Boulder, Colo. in 1995, the two friends saw the success of New Belgium, a high-producing microbrewery in Fort Collins, Colo. — now one of the premiere craft brewers in the nation.

“It was one of those kind of aha moments of, ‘Wow, you can really make a business out of beer,’” VanderKamp said.

And two years later, VanderKamp and Spaulding began brewing in Holland Township, growing the business gradually, including an eventual move of the brewpub into the heart of the city’s downtown on 8th Street, and, in 2006, completing a production facility in a Holland Township industrial park.

According to VanderKamp, the move downtown was necessary and “it really drew people in.” In part, he did it because he thought the New Holland brand needed greater visibility.

“The early days there was a lot of ‘what is this?’ type thing,” he said. “Now we are very much accepted and really we’re promoted and always highlighted when people come into town.”

“We’ve really become an anchor for Holland. We’ve certainly gotten more integrated with the fabric of the community over the years.”

Situated at 66 East 8th Street, the brewpub invites patrons into the New Holland experience with freshly tapped brews coupled with artisanal, causal pub grub inside a restaurant with plenty of seating, one side featuring a large main bar. Live music and various events are highlights throughout the year with its beer garden as a great setting for the warmer months. Most of all, the pub is a place of connection.

“For us, and for our customers, the craft consumer tends to really value connection,” Bueltmann said. “They want to know where it came from and who produced various products.”

And connecting with customers is just as important to New Holland’s management team.

“Our pub is a great opportunity to get the feel of our customers one-on-one — whether we’re actually talking to individual people or getting general feedback,” Bueltmann said. “Our customers just get closer and more connected to what New Holland is — we really value that opportunity.”

In addition, pub customers have a chance to try specialty beers either not readily available on store shelves or not available outside the pub at all.

Another highlight of the New Holland experience is the pioneering nature of the company and its owners. Both Bueltmann and VanderKamp have penned books on beer — Bueltmann as series of essays on food and drink and VanderKamp with a bathroom-style read with anecdotal insights.

The brewery’s wood-aging dedication is also one-of-a-kind with a sizeable refrigerated area of its brewing facility dedicated to Dragon’s Milk and other wood-aged brews. Its sour program is ever-expanding as well. The company was also an early leader in using local ingredients, including Michigan hops (a growing industry of its own).

But the company is not just limited to beer. New Holland is a pioneer in craft spirits with five varieties year-round, four limited releases this year and another four released as part of is Brewers’ Series. The mainstays are crafty spins on traditional liquors — bourbon, gin, whiskey and rum — along with its just released Clockwork Orange liqueur.

“I see us out in front,” VanderrKamp said. “We maybe have a little bit of attention issues in having such a broad scope of vision, but that’s what keeps us energized, and I see us as leaders.”

Ultimately, Bueltmann and VanderKamp see New Holland as more than just one successful brewery in the Great Beer State. For them, it is about a community of brewers and, aside from just alcohol, a whole craft industry of food and drinks.

“We’re very much tied to being part of a movement that is much larger than our individual products,” Bueltmann said, calling it a “food movement” with “connectivity aligning those who appreciate connection, sourcing, craftsmanship and art form.”

VanderKamp agrees.

“We’re about moving the conversation forward,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we have all the answers at all. There is a collection of people asking for more. The market will react if we all start making those small decisions.”

Throughout the month of June, New Holland is offering $1 off mainstay and seasonal brews when readers mention this article to their server upon ordering.