Posts

Saugatuck, Mich. — The Mitten Brewing Company is bringing its signature craft beer and pizza to a third Michigan town: Saugatuck.

The brewery’s new location at 329 Water Street will open on Friday, June 8. It’s located across the street from The Mermaid Bar and Grill, Coppercraft Distillery, Ridge Cider and just a few doors down from Coral Gables.

mitten brewing

The small building is a pre-Civil War home that had been converted to a commercial space.

“We seem to have an affinity for choosing old buildings at the Mitten,” said The Mitten Brewing Co-Owner Chris Andrus. The Mitten’s original location is in an historic Grand Rapids firehouse.

Like The Mitten’s original location, the new space required some rebuilding—much of which Andrus and Co-Owner Max Trierweiler did themselves.

The new space will seat 80 patrons: 36 indoors and 44 outside on the covered patio and in the lawn on picnic tables Andrus and Trierweiler built.

Andrus and Trierweiler built the new bar from 1840s-era lumber—from back when Saugatuck was a lumber town and port. The wood was a gift from Saugatuck Brewing Company Founder and Former Saugatuck Mayor Barry Johnson, who Andrus said is a friend and mentor to The Mitten.

“That bar is pretty much the centerpiece of the building,” Andrus said. “It’s a neat piece from the former mayor of Saugatuck himself. We’re really excited to have that.”

In addition to a pub and restaurant, the space will host a small brewhouse that will focus on sour beer production. Apparel made by The Mitten State will also be available for purchase on site.

Adding another location was a natural next step for The Mitten Brewing Company, Andrus said.

“We’ve spent the last 5 years making our brand as strong as possible, and we’ve been reinvesting in our processes and our people,” Andrus said. “What we do best, in my opinion, is our taproom experience and the way our staff interacts with our guests. We wanted to bring that to a new place. Saugatuck was a natural fit.”

Andrus and Trierweiler hired 21 local residents to run the Saugatuck location.

 

mitten brewing

The Mitten Brewing Company has built itself around bringing the worlds of craft beer and baseball together. Something the two worlds share is the idea of pitching.

In baseball, pitching refers to throwing the ball towards home plate to start a play. In brewing, it refers to throwing yeast into wort to start fermentation. The “Art of Pitching” series is an opportunity for the brewers at The Mitten Brewing Company to test out new ingredients and techniques.

 

“With this series, we’re trying different yeast strains that we may or may not use typically, in concert with making different recipes that we may or may not make either,” said Robert “Wob” Wanhatalo, head pub brewer at The Mitten Brewing Company. “A big part of it is to go out on a limb and try new things–trying new styles, or modifying styles.”

Six different brewers and teams at The Mitten Brewing Company have developed recipes that will be released periodically at the pub through Mar. 19. The styles include an India Pale Lager, Blackberry Black Gose, Rye Stout with oak spirals, Imperial Roggenbier, Bohemian Pilsner and the brewery’s first New England IPA.

mitten brewing

Miguelangel Graciano, Taylor Darling, Jason Warnes, Aaron Ross, Robert Wanhatalo, Jon VanderPloeg, Austin Kapteyn

The homage to baseball doesn’t stop with the series’s name–the brews feature names like “Fastball,” “Corkscrew” and “Circle Change.”

The idea for the series originated with a mug club member who was pitching ideas for beer names at the bar, said Brewery Quality Control Manager Aaron Ross. He lobbed “The Art of Pitching,” and the idea stuck–not as a beer name, but as an opportunity to get creative.

“Last year’s event was really successful. We had a couple new styles that we’d never made before,” Ross said.

Those who enjoyed the event last year can look forward to more experimental styles this year. Five of the recipes are completely new, and one is a spin on one of last year’s brews.

“Last year we sort of stuck in our comfort zones and did styles that you’d typically find on our board,” said Wanhalato. “This year, we’re trying out different lagering techniques, different lager yeast strains and beers that we haven’t made yet that you’re going to see on tap for this event.”

The series will culminate on Monday, Mar. 19, when all six beers will be tapped at the pub. The public is invited to speak with the brewers about the series from 4-6 p.m. Monday is The Mitten Brewing Company’s “Flight Night,” which offers flights at 25 percent off from 4 p.m. to close. Visitors are invited to purchase a flight of all six Art of Pitching brews and vote for their favorite on a Facebook poll that will be open that day only.

There will also be a charitable component to the Mar. 19 event. From 5-8 p.m., a portion of the sales will be donated to the brewery’s spring and summer charity project, the “Ted Rasberry Gift.” The money from the event will go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation to fund the Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball Program–a free program for inner-city youth ages 6-14 that holds games at seven neighborhood parks, including Rasberry Field.

mitten brewing

“We do this program every year, and we thought this would be a cool way to kick it off,” said Chris Andrus, co-owner of the brewery. 

“In the past, it’s been a good fundraiser for the Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball Program,” Ross said. “I’m excited that we’re offering that opportunity again this year.”

 

For the first time ever, fans of The Mitten Brewing Company beer will be able to bring it home in that portable, recyclable aluminum vessel the industry loves so much.

mitten brewingThe brewery is celebrating its fifth anniversary November 13-19. Since opening on Grand Rapidsʼ West Side in 2012, the Grand Rapids brewery has enjoyed steady growth. Now, owners Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus have announced they’re ready for the next step: packaging.

“Weʼve spent the last five years building a quality brand we can be proud of,” Trierweiler said.

“Max and I wanted to do something meaningful for our fifth anniversary, and what could be better than our first ever canning run with a beer we used to brew in our garage?” Andrus said.

The first release will be a limited run of 5,000 cans of Peanuts and Crackerjack Porter, canned in-house with a brand new canning line from Michigan company MicroCanner. The beer is a sweet, robust porter made with real roasted peanuts and peanut butter from Detroitʼs Germack Pistachio Company. The Mitten Brewing Company favorite clocks in at 6.0% ABV.

“We like to say that when you drink Peanuts and Crackerjack, the ballpark comes to you,” Trierweiler said.

Customers can purchase the beer at the brewery in four packs of 12-ounce cans for $9.99 starting at 11:30am, Monday, November 13. Purchases will be limited to four four packs, and the first 100 customers will receive a free Mitten Brewing Company can koozie.

Other perks of visiting Mitten Brewing Company during its anniversary week include their top-voted 2017 pizza specials and $5 off their famous Pizza Flights, both available all week long. Mitten Clubhouse (the brewery’s mug club) renewal begins on Tuesday, November 14 and will feature “Clubhouse Only” beer tappings and specials.

“We continue to be overwhelmed by the support weʼve seen from the community these past five years,” Andrus said.

More Mitten Brewing Company favorites will be available in cans come early 2018, starting with a wider release of their popular Country Strong IPA.

 

the mitten

If you’re in Michigan and encounter a business name that includes the word “Mitten”, you’ll find several possible descriptions; all referring to the shape of the lower peninsula of our great state. Two of them happen to be based in Grand Rapids and share quite similar names. MittenBrew.com, the online news source you’re currently reading, recently sat down to chat with the crew of Mitten Brewing Company, the Detroit Tigers baseball-themed brewery in the West Side neighborhood. They share our love of the mitten as well as our passion for Michigan’s craft culture. Sometimes this leads to a brief moment of confusion, more on that in a bit.

Spend some time at Mitten Brewing Company and you’ll begin to understand the depth of their commitment to great beer and baseball. MItten, in their case, also refers to a baseball mitt. Brews have monikers that refer to the game, and are fermented in vessels named in honor of Tigers legends Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Kirby Puckett.

the mitten

Brite tank labels refer to another common passion of the Mitten Brewing Team: music. Currently “Son House” is the solo brite and is waiting to be joined by a round of new tanks being brought in. An additional twenty barrel fermenter and an additional twenty barrel brite tank are on order from Craftwerk Brewing Systems. Production is currently done in a portion of an adjacent building and will eventually expand into a space that is currently being leased by Long Road Distillers.

The short term plan includes a canning line made locally by Belmont company Microcanner that will fill twelve ounce cans when the timing is right. “We want to wait and make sure stuff’s getting pulled through distribution and we’re not pushing it through,” said Co-owner Chris Andrus.

the mitten“We’ll freely admit that we were not up to snuff when we opened and it took us a learning curve to get there and to make the improvements. Our day to day mindset is to counteract the idea that growth outpaces quality control, and I think we’re living that right now. I think we’re very much in that. Every day we sit down and reanalyze what can we do to be lean and mean here and make our beer better, because we cannot continue to have it be good and grow this fast. We do a lot of volume here, and it all goes back into R&D. It all goes back into better equipment,” he added.

The owners and staff routinely meet for tasting sessions to compare their beers to commercial examples. “We want to be in the same conversation with Founders and New Holland and we want to have earned our place to be there,” said Andrus. The team is looking forward to having New Holland Brewing Company’s newest location as a neighbor. When they’re up and running, Mitten Brewing anticipates sharing a customer base. “People will come, and we damn well better have earned their respect when they come,” said Andrus. “Just because something is local does not mean people should fall over themselves to get it. It has to hold up against the national standard, and that’s what our standard is. We’re getting there. Every day is an ongoing effort.”

That effort is made by the entire crew. Head Brewer Jason Warnes joined Mitten Brewing a few weeks after their grand opening. He became an owning partner in December 2015 in addition to heading up the production facility. Warnes’ brew partner Alexander Atkin was injured in a motorcycle accident recently and isn’t able to physically return to work yet. Taylor Darling has filled in during Atkin’s absence.

“He kind of got thrown in the pits” after Alex’s accident, Warnes said of Taylor. “He was a cook here” adds Andrus. “We get a lot of people that take cook jobs but they really want to be in the brewhouse. He didn’t make any secret about it and then the Alex thing happened and he kind of got thrown into it. Basically he was just kind of washing kegs and was Jason’s assistant, and he had to learn microbiology in a hurry!” Andrus said.

Atkin continues to help the guys whenever there’s a yeast question or anything related to his position in the technical aspects. The team has said they are looking forward to the future when Atkin is able to rejoin them in the brewhouse.

Looking for outside feedback, Mitten Brewing entered and poured several of their beers in the Great American Beer Festival last year. “We were serving a Dark Mild (Triple Crown Brown), which no one was there for but it was a huge geek moment–John Palmer who wrote “How to Homebrew” favors that style,” said Andrus. Warnes interjected “He inspired me to make that beer, and he’s there! So we go up to him and we’re like ‘we’ve got a Dark Mild’ and he said ‘oh, I’ll come by your booth’ and I thought ‘he’s not coming by’ but he comes by with Jamil Zainasheff!” Palmer and Zainasheff are well-respected members of the brewing industry and co-authors of the book “Brewing Classic Styles”. “It was surreal. I still look up old BYO (Brew Your Own) articles that he wrote,” Andrus said.

The celebrity moments are hitting home as well, with the Tigers Winter Caravan making a stop in the taproom recently. Stars of the team, managers, and announcers filled the upstairs bar area, a dream come true for the owners and staff whose respect and love for the Tigers is the stuff of local legends. The feeling was mutual, it seems. On the way out, Alan Trammell, holding up the caravan bus, made sure he stopped in the lobby for a moment to sit in the seats from the former Tiger Stadium on display — sacrificing time to allow a few more photographs before leaving.

the mitten

The guys on the tour enjoyed the beer there enough to start a conversation about having it on tap at Comerica Park. Tigers Director of Marketing called up the Beverage Purchaser and started the process on the spot. “It’s one of those pie in the sky things for us that ended up happening” Andrus said of having their beer at the stadium, “and the team is planning to come back in forthcoming years for the caravans.”

Another honor, and additional chance for outside feedback, has been bestowed upon the brewery. Co-owner Max Trierweiler revealed Mitten Brewing has been chosen to participate in this year’s edition of Savor, a craft beer and food festival in Washington DC. Three hundred twenty five breweries applied, and only sixty breweries were invited to attend. “That’s why when this kind of thing comes up it matters that this (indicating his beer) is on point, because I would hate to get all dressed up for the prom and have tennis shoes on. GABF was humbling for us but also eye opening and we held our own, frankly. It makes you want to be better,” said Andrus.

Judge their quality for yourself by visiting their taproom or find them at one of the many events they take part in. Ten of their beers were brought to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival this past weekend in a refurbished old band trailer that Andrus had hauled around the country while he was in bands, most recently as lead singer of Bless You Boys, another Detroit Tiger’s reference.

“Chris, when he was a musician, this is what he would lug around the country on his tours with his equipment in it, and now we’re going to lug beer around in it,” Trierweiler said. “I actually started out with him as a drummer in the band when we were just a three piece,” he added. More evidence of the cohesiveness that is prevalent in their tight-knit family.

MittenBrew.com owner Steph Harding asked Andrus about the confusion that sometimes occurs because of our similarly named beer-centric companies. “Most of the time because your tag is shorter so they click you instead of us,” said Andrus. During the Tigers Caravan visit, a social media representative mistakenly tagged the online news source. “I saw it and was like ‘oh no! fix that!’ and I immediately responded to it and they retweeted it” with the proper tag, said Harding.

The two companies don’t see the confusion as a problem. Both MittenBrew.com and Mitten Brewing Company view it as a happy accident that occasionally links us, and reminds us it’s always good to be part of the Mitten.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

Detroit Tigers photo courtesy Terry Johnston


Home     About     News     Services     Contact Us



Sign Up To Get The Latest Brews