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.

Editor’s Note: This is the third part of a five-part series profiling Michigan’s brewing industry.

At 3.8 percent of the Michigan beer market, the state’s craft beer industry is still just a drop in the growler.

But that number has tripled since 1997, and is, as Michigan Brewers Guild executive director Scott Graham puts it, snowballing toward a larger share. The guild’s job is to help promote and support the industry its members make up, and to compete against the beer corporations of the world.

And that’s where the problem stems from, getting consumers to switch over to the better tasting liquids.

“There are still a lot of people who don’t know there’s a brewery down the street or there’s great beer in Michigan,” Graham said. “As more people find beer that’s interesting, it makes them more interested in seeking it out and sharing and bringing more people into the marketplace.

“If they’re a beer lover, they’re part way to being a craft beer lover. Not all of them will decide they like it, but a lot of them haven’t even thought about it or been exposed to it.”

The guild’s job

The guild is an organization made up of Michigan’s craft brewers seeking to get their products into the hands of more beer drinkers, and so far so good.

The guild’s goal is to hit the 10 percent market share, and although the current 3.8 seems a long way off, it really isn’t that far to reach. With states such as Oregon reaching about 20 percent of the state’s market share, it’s a national goal to hit 10 percent of the market, Arcadia Brewing Company owner Tim Suprise said.

“All of us at the guild certainly have our eyes on that goal and I’m convinced it’s possible,” Suprise said. “We’re all doing a great job in growth and awareness, engaging customers locally and culturally. All things combined can help us to that 10 percent mark.”

That sentiment was one Graham agreed with, as the amount of quality beers brewing and the ability of consumers to easily access the product is continually improving. If that’s the status quo, the market share also will steadily increase.

“I really think, if we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re taking all the right steps,” he said. “It doesn’t happen fast, the quality is important. The more we talk and try to find ways to educate the public and it will come faster and faster.”

In fact, Rex Halfpenny, publisher of Michigan Beer Guide, said the four percent mark will come this year, if it hasn’t already.

The number will only continue to get closer as more merchandisers look to carry the products being made by more than 100 breweries across the state.

“(I look forward to) watching retailers accept it more and realize it’s not only fun for them but good for their business because it draws in different and more consumers,” Graham said. “And to see the guild grow and play a role in building awareness, there’s still a lot of room to grow. There’s still going to be a lot of new ways, just because there aren’t enough of us working on it. It’s great to have those new opportunities.”

We sit down with founder and president Tim Suprise, of Arcadia Brewing Company, about the first 15 years of his brewery and expansion plans for the future.

While it may have looked like an ordinary day at Arcadia Brewing Company on Saturday, celebration was in the air.

That’s because the downtown Battle Creek brewery and restaurant celebrated 15 years in the beer business, making Saturday a day founder Timothy Suprise wasn’t certain he’d ever see.

“There were plenty of times you think that you’ve turned the corner and you still have a number of challenges ahead of you,” Suprise said. “There’s been a lot of twists and turns, but thankfully over the last few years we’ve had some excellent growth and that’s helped us to stay in the business for the long haul.”

During the brewery’s 15th Anniversary Party — a Scottish/Highland-themed Christmas celebration — patrons were entertained through the Yard of Ale Contest, a Celtic band and bagpipe music. The day also included Suprise’s annual recitation of Robert Burns’s “Address to a Haggis.”

“It’s our way of celebrating another year in the beer business,” Suprise said.

Of course, there was also the beer. Arcadia’s XV Anniversary Ale and 15 Anniversary Ale were limited edition sour browns available only at the party. Both brews were aged with cherries — the XV with wine barrels and the 15 with bourbon barrels. Additionally, three special taps were available at different times of the day, including Cereal Killer Barleywine, Russian Imperial Stout and Shipwreck Porter.

An English Barleywine with full-bodied malts and flavors of raisin and dates, Cereal Killer had hints of citrus-like hop bitterness. The Russian Imperial featured coffee, bitter-sweet chocolate and black licorice flavors with a hint of prunes. Lastly, Shipwreck was a Baltic-style porter aged for 12 months in a 10-year-old Kentucky bourbon oak barrel.

All in all, the day was reason to celebrate for Arcadia, a milestone for a brewery that Suprise now sees continuing its success in the next 15 years and well beyond.

“I think anyone who starts a business hopes and intends of their business to make it for the long term, but sometimes it’s a little bit more challenging,” he said. “We’re grateful for sure to be able to celebrate 15 years and also to do it in this community in Battle Creek. This has been a very good town for us.”

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