stormcloud production

FRANKFORT, Mich –– The beer is flowing at Stormcloud Brewing Company’s new production brewery located on the east side of the city of Frankfort. The 12,759 square-foot facility houses a 20-barrel brewhouse, handcrafted by W.M. Sprinkman Corporation of Waukesha, Wisconsin, with the capacity to brew 4,500 barrels of beer annually. The brewery is also home to a new Craft Canning System, built by Codi Manufacturing, Inc. in Golden, Colorado, with the capacity to fill approximately 40 cans per minute.

stormcloud production

In March, Stormcloud began canning its two most popular beers – Rainmaker Ale, a Belgian-style Pale Ale that brought home a bronze medal from Denver’s Great American Beer Festival, and Whiled Away® IPA, a Belgian-style IPA and best seller in Stormcloud’s downtown Frankfort pub.

Six packs of both beers in 12oz cans have been distributed to stores in 11 Michigan counties, including the cities of Traverse City, Manistee and Ludington. As production increases, Stormcloud cans will be distributed north to Petoskey, Cheboygan and Alpena, and south to Muskegon and Grand Rapids.

stormcloud production

The increase in beer production capacity at the new brewery has already enabled Stormcloud to expand its keg beer distribution to the greater Grand Rapids area in partnership with West Side Beer Distributing of Grand Rapids. Stormcloud’s current distribution footprint includes 32 counties in Michigan’s lower peninsula.

“I’m proud of our efforts to make great beer that people want to drink,” says co-owner and head brewer Brian Confer. “We’re very excited about the increased capacity at the new facility, both in terms of brewing volume and lab space to continue our push for the best quality beer we can make.”

Designed by Byce & Associates, Inc. of Kalamazoo, the production brewery houses brewing, fermentation, packaging, cold storage, and all shipping and receiving processes. The facility is also home to a brewing laboratory, office space, and public tasting room with merchandise space. The tasting room is scheduled to open to the public Friday, May 25 and will feature an outdoor beer garden similar to Stormcloud’s downtown location.

“We wanted the design of the tasting room and outdoor area to connect visually with our existing pub and restaurant,” says co-owner Rick Schmitt. “So even though we’re across town from the pub, both new guests and long-time customers will feel the connection to Stormcloud’s downtown roots.”

Energy efficiency was also top-of-mind when designing the new brewery, and a number of environmentally friendly systems were put into place at the production facility, including:

  • 6.2 kW Solar System with 10 two-panel ground mounted arrays that automatically orient to the sun’s location in the sky. Installed by Traverse Solar of Traverse City.
  • Large sections of vertical glass curtain walls and strategically placed skylights in the production area to maximize daylighting.
  • All interior lighting is controlled by occupancy sensors and shuts off automatically when vacant.
  • All exterior lighting is controlled by photocell and timeclock. Exterior lighting shuts off at dawn.
  • All light fixtures are LED, using less than half of the lighting energy (watts per square foot) allowed by the latest energy code.
  • Office furnace is 95% efficient (minimum requirement is 80% efficient).
  • Office condensing unit is 15 SEER (minimum requirement is 13 SEER).
  • Production area gas heaters are 90% plus efficient (minimum requirement is 80%).
  • Two electric car charging stations (Tesla and generic). Available summer 2018.

Public tours of Stormcloud’s new production facility will begin this summer. The brewery and tasting room is located at 366 Parkview Lane in Frankfort, Michigan.



FRANKFORT, Mich -­- The PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics begin this February but patrons at Stormcloud Brewing Company are already enjoying the thrill of one cold weather, Olympic event – the sport of Curling.
For a third winter in a row, the northern Michigan microbrewery has constructed an outdoor curling sheet next to its pub in downtown Frankfort. The curling sheet is host to a 12-team Curling League that meets on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons, in addition to Learn to Curl Lessons on Saturdays with instruction from the Traverse City Curling Club.
“Anyone who lives in northern Michigan all winter long knows it’s essential to stay active,” says Stormcloud’s co-owner Rick Schmitt. “When we first looked into using our outdoor space next to the pub for a wintertime activity, curling immediately came to mind. It’s a fun sport that people of all ages can enjoy.”
Due to space limitations, Stormcloud’s curling sheet is approximately half the length of an official curling sheet. Also, the stones are smaller to compensate for the shorter sheet. Otherwise, the rules are the same. Curling is similar to the sport of shuffleboard with two teams sliding granite stones across the curling sheet and towards a circular target on the ice. Players use a curling broom to sweep the ice in the path of the stone to help guide it. Team points are scored for stones closest to the target area.
On top of adding four more teams to this year’s Curling League, Stormcloud is offering private 90-minute lessons to groups with a minimum of eight people. “This is the third year we’ve built the curling sheet and it gets more popular every winter,” says Schmitt.
stormcloud brewing
FRANKFORT, MI – Stormcloud Brewing Company is joining other small and independent craft breweries across the nation in celebration of American Craft Beer Week, happening May 16-22, 2016. For the 11th year in a row, American Craft Beer Week is an opportunity for craft brewers around the nation to commemorate their art and tradition with craft beer enthusiasts.
With nearly 4,300 breweries operating in the United States by the end of last year – the highest number of active breweries since 1873 – beer drinkers and craft aficionados have many reasons to celebrate this year. Stormcloud Brewing Company is taking part in the celebration with daily beer specials combined with food pairings, in addition to offering an American Craft Beer Week Punch Card. Customers are encouraged to try seven different Stormcloud beers during the weeklong event, then return their punch cards for a chance to win a $50 Stormcloud Gift Card.
“The intent with the punch cards is to get our customers out of their beer comfort zones and to try something new,” says Rick Schmitt, co-owner of Stormcloud. “We’re all guilty of regularly drinking our one favorite beer. But in the spirit of American Craft Beer Week, we’re challenging our customers to discover the immense variety of beer styles and flavors we are crafting by hand, right here in Frankfort.”
Stormcloud will wrap up American Craft Beer Week with a special Barrel-Aged Tap Takeover in the brewery’s downtown Frankfort pub. Patrons will get a taste of popular Stormcloud beers that have been diligently aged in Bourbon, Tequila and Scotch barrels. The Barrel-Aged Tap Takeover will take place the final three days of American Craft Beer Week: May 20-22.
To learn more about American Craft Beer Week, visit For more information about celebrating American Craft Beer Week at Stormcloud Brewing Company, visit

stormcloud brewing

FRANKFORT, MI – Stormcloud Brewing Company has been recognized as one of the 2016 “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch,” an awards program presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.

Stormcloud Brewing Company will be honored at an awards ceremony during the twelfth annual Michigan Celebrates Small Business gala event, May 5, 2016 in Lansing.

With a focus on Belgian-style brewing, Stormcloud Brewing Company is an award-winning micro-brewery and pub located in the coastal city of Frankfort, in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Stormcloud offers 16 taps of handcrafted beer in its downtown pub, in addition to locally-produced cider, mead and wine. Currently, Stormcloud has secured partnerships to distribute its beer to restaurants and pubs within 33 Michigan counties. Stormcloud Brewing Company opened its doors in June 2013.

“We are a young company and this recognition is a great honor for everyone at Stormcloud,” says Co-Owner Rick Schmitt. “Without the dedication and hard work of our employees, this award would not have been possible. My business partner, Stormcloud’s Head Brewer Brian Confer, and I would like to thank all of our team members for working to help achieve this incredible distinction.”

stormcloud brewingCompanies making it to the “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” list are a remarkable group of second-stage companies. Defined as having 6 to 99 full-time-equivalent employees and generating $750,000 to $50 million in annual revenue or working capital from investors or grants, these companies form the backbone of Michigan’s economy. Representing all regions of the state and a diverse range of industries, companies like Stormcloud Brewing Company are known for their exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, creation of innovation or use of innovation in creative ways, and their sustainable competitive advantage.
Winners were selected by Michigan-based judges from the banking, economic development, entrepreneurship development, and venture capital communities.

Michigan 50 Companies to Watch is presented by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.
Founding underwriters are the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, PNC Bank, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, and Dynamic Edge, Inc.

Brian_Rick_StormcloudBrew (90)

Contributing Underwriters are Comcast Business Class, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy Foundation, Hungerford Nichols CPAs and Advisors, Edge Partners, Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates, Rehmann, Michigan Business Network and Varnum Attorneys at Law.

Michigan Celebrates Small Business was founded by Michigan Small Business Development Center, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan, Edward Lowe Foundation, Chris Holman – Small Business Advocate, and the Small Business Association of Michigan.

Leelanau Pale Ale

6% ABV  •  “An ongoing exploration of local hops from the Leelanau Peninsula. Currently hopped with Empire Orchards Vojvodina hops.”

Oooh! Utilizing the local hops, eh? Glad to see that trend popping up. Granted, Michigan won’t provide all of our hop needs, but it’s quite some fun to assess the local flair when possible.

This is a clear and dark amber beer with a resistant tan head. I detect some subtle banana and bubblegum notes with a touch of pepper, the obvious byproducts of a Belgian-inspired brewery.

From there I pick up on notes of honey that latch onto a light nuttiness. The hops remind me of the German noble varieties in that they are a touch spice forward. The malt lends bread crust and granola flavors.

The brew then moves into a fluffy mouthfeel just before the hop bitterness swiftly cuts in to coat my tongue and hold on. All throughout are full notes of bread crust-like malt, spice-like hops and brisk hop bitterness.

It’s lovely to suck down beer while eating food, but for this particular case I am happy to drink the beverage on its own. I find it’s a wonderful way to pull apart those particular Michigan hop notes and observe what this environment has to offer our prized little cones.

Fun Guv’nr Black IPA

7.3% ABV

It’s an opaque black brew with a light brown head. Dipping my nose down into my glass, I get whiffs of pine, green leaves, burnt toast and ash.

Continuing further and I take a swallow. My mouth is now awash with strong ash and burnt toast notes that linger far into the finish. Personally, I am a huge smoke and char flavor fan, so these traits make me quite happy. The green leaf-like hop flavor trails behind and is not nearly as abrasive as my char notes. I also sense a touch of citrus as well from our lovely hops. I should mention, too, that the burnt toast quality is not the only thing that takes over. I am also sensing a sweet bread flavor underneath it all.

As I finish it and my mouth is left with lingering char flavor, I feel the hop bitterness sneaking in to work with the roasty bitterness while I daydream about eating corn chowder and smoked brisket.

While sitting here drinking and looking over the Stormcloud menu, I am left with some perhaps unusual questions for this kind of article, but I implore you all to weigh in on them.

Stormcloud has been ever so clever with naming their brews (B., Sirius! Ha! I am patting myself on the back for remembering cloud types from elementary school), and finding a common theme that ties into the brewery name. I mean, come on! The Farthest Shore? Updraft? Silver Lining Saison? It may sound trivial, but I know that creating unifying themes can truly help solidify an identity, which Stormcloud appears to have figured out. Let’s take what they’ve done and now question the power of words in the beverage industry. I’m always excited when a brewery gives me pause, and Stormcloud certainly has.

Please, tell us your thoughts in the comment section! We’d love to strike up a conversation using the questions below as a starting point.

  • Have the names of beers helped you determine whether or not you will purchase the beer?
  • Can you remember a distinct time when you bought a beer because of the name?
  • How about a time when you didn’t choose a beer because of the name?
  • Is it strong advertising or the quality of the product that holds the real selling power?
  • Are humorous or interesting names more appealing than names that help categorize or define what you’re about to taste?
  • Most importantly, do the names of beers really matter and why?

Amidst the rolling hills and serene lakes of Leelanau County a great battle has begun. The Michigan Civil Beer War began with its first battle this weekend at the Little Traverse Inn in Maple City. The competition, which will take place through March, pits the breweries of the Northern part of the state against “heavyweights” of the South.

Graeme Leask, owner of Little Traverse Inn, began working on the creative competition earlier this fall. “I had mentioned the idea to a group of fellow beer enthusiasts whilst they were at the Inn, one afternoon in early fall. During our conversation it evolved into a ‘Civil’ beer war, where we were going to pit Northern Breweries versus Southern,” he explained.

After making contact with breweries and distributors, contenders for the first rounds were randomly drawn. First up: Stormcloud Brewing Company vs. New Holland Brewing Company.

Stormcloud opened less than 2 years ago in Frankfort, but has made a large impression on the craft market with its traditional Belgian flair. The brewery brought home a bronze medal for its Rainmaker Ale from the Great American Beer Festival earlier this year.

New Holland, on the other hand, opened in 1997, and has become a cornerstone brewery — and distillery — in the state. The brewery has a large distribution area — now including Ontario — and has plans to open a new location in Grand Rapids.

The two breweries represent two very different corners of the craft market, and yet, the competition between the two was a tough one.

Upon entering the battlefield, I was given a flight of eight beers: four from “Brewery A,” and four from “Brewery B.” The flight featured four styles of beer from each brewery: saison, stout, pale ale and IPA.

Already knowing my favorites from each brewery, a blind tasting allowed me to authentically evaluate each beer. The saison from Brewery A was mild while Brewery B’s was more vibrant and flavorful; Brewery A’s pale ale was a fabulous traditional pale ale while Brewery B’s contained a more robust profile; Brewery A’s stout had bold notes of coffee and chocolate while Brewery B’s was a nicely balanced rich stout.

“The voting was very close on Thursday with only one vote separating the two,” stated Leask.

The close voting speaks to the quality of beer from both breweries.

However, by Sunday evening, one brewery was victorious. “Stormcloud forged into the lead on Friday and never looked back,” added Leask. Coming in with 58% of the votes and claiming victory in all four categories, Stormcloud won the first round.

“If the first round is anything to go on, I believe, we will see the beer speak for itself,” said Leask. “We will continue to make all the rounds a blind tasting, hopefully eliminating anyone’s preconceived preferences or notions and allow the cream to rise to the top.”

Round 2 will take place December 18-21 and will put Short’s against Dark Horse; Round 3 begins January 8 and will feature Brewery Terra Firma and Founders; the fourth round will put Right Brain against Arcadia Ales and will take place January 22-25.

Winners from each round will join Stormcloud in the semi-finals, which are set to begin in February.

To become a part of the Michigan Civil Beer War, stop in to the Little Traverse Inn Thursday through Sunday during one of the previously mentioned dates and let “the beer speak for itself.”

For full details on the event, visit