Brewers from five West Michigan breweries have joined forces to create a beer and a band, and they’re going on tour to ring in Michigan Beer Month.

Catch them at various places around West Michigan from Wednesday, June 29-Sunday, July 3.

The event is called “Mashpaddle,” and it’s a celebration of West Michigan beer and collaboration.

Ten brewers—Steve Berthel, Jesse Jett, and Fred Bueltmann from New Holland Brewing; Melissa Brolick from Old Boy’s Brewhouse; Adam Engleman and Evan Keller from Lake Charlevoix Brewing; Tina Schuett from Rare Bird Brewpub; and Phil Thomson, Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt, and Dan Bouzis from Big Hart Brewing—teamed up to brew an IPA with all Michigan-grown ingredients.


Evan Keller, Dan Buozis, Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt, Phil Thomson, Fred Bueltmann, Steve Berthel, Adam Engleman

It includes a mix of caramel, vanilla, pale, and pilsner malts from Pilot Malt House, Motor City Malting, and Empire Malting. The brew’s cascade, centennial, chinook and crystal hops were grown in Empire, Michigan.

“It has lots of late hop additions to contribute to citrusy aromas,” said Bueltmann, New Holland Brewing’s Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle.

The culminating product is a bright, citrus-forward IPA that also bears the name Mashpaddle. It will be served at all participating locations.

A few members of the brew crew also happen to be musicians, so they’ve formed a band called Mashpaddle. The group includes three musicians from New Holland Brewing—Berthel on pedal steel, Jett on vocals, and Bueltmann on bass and sousaphone—as well as Lake Charlevoix’s Engleman on guitar.

“It’s really exciting to kind of combine passions,” Bueltmann said. “I think the idea that a group came together to make a beer and a band is really unique.”

The group will perform Jett’s original pieces along with a few “eclectic covers,” on a tour of participating breweries’ pub locations. They’ll perform between anchor sets with The Strapping Owls, a trio including Bueltmann as well as Larry Beers and Nicholas Barron. Attendees can expect “Americana roots and soul music,” Bueltmann said. In other words, good Fourth of July music.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for what we do and where we live,” Bueltmann said. “It’s a very feel-good event.”

See Mashpaddle and try the brew at one of the following dates and locations:



TRAVERSE CITY — Summertime in Northern Michigan means spending as much time along the water as possible. And even with rain looming overhead, hundreds took to the water on Saturday for a unique paddling adventure.

Paddle for Pints, now in its second year, is a TC Ale Trail event and combines some of Traverse City’s best features: fresh water, craft brews and delicious food. Similar to a pub crawl, this pub paddle takes attendees to six downtown breweries all while paddling down the Boardman River.

Starting at the Filling Station, paddlers launch across Boardman Lake to get to Right Brain Brewery. A paddle back across the lake winds into the river, which paddlers take to the Union Street portage point. The next stops include Brewery Ferment and Rare Bird Brewpub. After hopping back into kayaks, participants complete the paddle at Clinch Park, with stops at North Peak and Workshop Brewing.

The concept was successful in its first year and is in even higher demand this year. This year started with eight events, each with three waves. Each of these eight events sold out before summer really even started. In an effort to stay on top of demand, TC Ale Trail co-founder Troy Daily added Paddle for Pints 2.0, which added eleven paddle dates. The 2.0 events are smaller, with just one wave and four breweries.

Expanding at such a great capacity takes a tremendouseffort to keep things running smoothly. Building from last year, Daily and his team were able to coordinate with breweries and other local officials to ensure a positive experience for attendees.

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“The success this year is in the people and my team. Eighteen paid employees help out for each of the big events which makes things run a lot more smooth,” said Daily.

And things did run smooth and efficiently. The Paddle for Pints team ensured everyone arrived safely at each stop, helped portage kayaks, and blew whistles to keep everyone moving on time. They were even on hand to keep supervise kayaks at the end. This led to an enjoyable experience for all, and it is what has groups sharing their experiences and/or planning trips with friends and family.

“For each event, at least 85% of the people have been from out of town,” said Daily.

In fact, there have been some events where nearly 97% of the attendees were not from Traverse City. Groups from Chicago, Indiana and Ohio were present at Saturday’s event and many had plans to explore the surrounding area.

“The power of social media is why it is so popular this year and will continue to be,” stated Daily.

As the event becomes more popular, the local economy continues to benefit. From food specials at the breweries to having time at the end to further explore downtown, attendees were able to experience more than just unique brews. Visiting the six breweries through a unique experience gives those from the area and from outside the area a taste of what downtown can offer.

While all of this year’s events are sold out, be sure to stay tuned to for more information about next year’s offerings.

TRAVERSE CITY — With much persistence and dedication, Rare Bird Brewpub was finally able to open its doors on June 27 in Traverse City.

Owners Nate Crane and Tina Schuett have spent the last two years overcoming various obstacles to open the highly anticipated brewpub. When a traditional route of entrepreneurship fell through, Crane and Schuett gained support on Indiegogo and put in a lot of their own work.

They have transformed an old cannery into a vibrant brewpub, completing many of the renovations on their own. “We took it down to the existing four walls,” explained Schuett. “We became the general contractors and builders.”

The result is a comfortable, yet sophisticated brewpub. I was expecting a smaller taproom, but was rather impressed with size, decor and overall atmosphere. The taproom is open and inviting with a large selection of seating, high ceilings and plenty of natural lighting.

And let’s not forget the beer. Schuett began homebrewing in college. She then spent some time as a park ranger in California and New Zealand, but returned to her passion for beer. She began brewing for Sand Creek Brewery in Wisconsin, and eventually landed in Traverse City at Right Brain Brewery. She has since branched out on her own, proving that women can create outstanding beer.

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Even though only open for a week, buzz about the quality of Rarebird’s brews has spread fast. The taproom has been busy each day, with a few regulars already returning. And there has been so much excitement about one of its brews — Pants Party American Pale Ale — that sold out within the week.

“It’s clear this is already a favorite and we will need to make more,” Schuett stated with excitement.

With Pants Party Ale sold out, I chose to try Whip-Pour-Will Wit on my first visit. This Belgian-style wit was light bodied and had a refreshing balance of citrus and spice.

Schuett also recommended the Shadenfreude Chocolate Milk Stout. “Those that don’t normally like dark beers, love this one.”

While boasting a quality selection of their own beers, Crane and Schuett have taken things one step further. Rare Bird not only features its own beers, but also has a large selection of other craft brews on tap. There is also a delicious food menu featuring appetizers like flash fried cheese curds and entrees such as pork belly sliders and fish tacos.

“We modeled our business after HopCat,” explained Schuett. “We have the best of the best available. Why not feature those brews and then focus on what we can do well?”

With such a strong passion for beer and a such a successful start, Rare Bird Brewpub has already found its place within the Traverse City craft beer scene. If you are visiting the area this summer, this is a stop you must make.