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OXFORD — Falling Down Beer Company has announced the expansion of operations to a second microbrewery, located at 14 N. Washington Street in Downtown Oxford.

The second location will feature a 60-seat taproom with 30 taps available. The brewery has also applied for a small wine maker and small distiller license for the location.

“We have had a great year and we are struggling to keep up with the demand of our core products,” said Mark Larson, Co-Founder and Head Brewer.

The new location is expected to produce 2,000 barrels of beer per year, four times more than the original Warren location.

The Warren location will remain and will also be expanded, adding a winery and additional brewing capacity.

The brewery is also working on canning of its flagship Ninja Chicken Pale Ale, as well as Scurvy Dan Blood Orange IPA, Falling Down’s bestselling summer seasonal.

The new Oxford location is expected to open in late 2015.

Just off of the corner of Mound and Chicago in Warren, you will find the humble and hidden Kuhnhenn Brewing Company bustling at capacity most days of the week.

In that brewery, you’ll discover the Kuhnhenn family still doing business in their original location.

The location where Eric Sr. ran his hardware store. The location where brothers Bret and Eric began selling homebrew supplies and eventually the beer being drank today. Kuhnhenn Brewing Company started out as, and still remains, a family owned business in the Old Village of Warren.

Where a hardware store once served a generation of fixers and doers, the brewery now serves a generation full of craft beer drinkers in a different manner.

Beginnings

During the 1990s, Brett and Eric Kuhnhenn took over operations of Lutz True Value from their dad, Eric Sr. Their management of the store coincided with their new found hobby of brewing.

Unfortunately, it also coincided with the opening of many big-box home improvement stores in the area, putting a strain on their business. Foreseeing how the story would play out, Bret and Eric started selling homebrew supplies out of the store, eventually converting it fully to homebrew supply retail shop in 1998.

“There was a time where you could get your screen repaired and get a beer. You could wait for your screen and drink,” explained Bret Kuhnhenn. “It was hard to give up the sales of the hardware shop. In the beginning, hardly anyone would come in.”

In 2001, the brothers officially launched the brewery. But not without the hard fought battle of convincing their father it was the way to go.

“He was against it. He did not like that idea,” Bret said. “We had to drive him around the local breweries and at the time there weren’t very many. We drove him to the local places to get the experience.

“I think after the third place we finally convinced him.”

Supply

As the brewery came of age, so did the beers. Brews like Simcoe Silly and Penetration Porter have been around since the beginning, while newer and award winning beers like DRIPA and 4D have helped round out their flagships and truly establish the Kuhnhenn name.

Jon Piepenbrok, VP of Marketing and Sales for Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., said the brewery’s reputation often precedes itself, especially with its customer base.

“While we may appear to be huge, 99.99% of people who come through these doors think we’re so much bigger than we are,” he said. “We’ve kind of unintentionally had this puffer fish or peacock attitude without even realizing it.”

For comparison, Piepenbrok used Founders Brewing Co. as a basis.

“Last year we produced right around 2,000 barrels of beer. This year we’re on track to produce somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 barrels,” he said. “If you compare that to Founders, for example, if I’m not mistaken they’re close to 200,000. So we’re just a fraction the size of Founders. And still just a drop in the bucket compared to ABI or Miller-Coors.”

Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. also feels they face certain geographical challenges that the west Michigan breweries may not.

“In southeast Michigan, it’s been a little more difficult,” Piepenbrok said. “I’ve said throughout my time in the industry, the west side of the state is at least five to seven years ahead of where we’re at in Detroit.”

However, Piepenbrok feels the tide may be turning in their favor.

“Something really strange has happened over the last two years especially,” he said. “The west side of the state has seen it gradually increasing over the last four to six years. Metro Detroit has only really seen it the last 18 to 24 months.”

Along with the perception of being a large brewery, Kuhnhenn is also dealing with the old economic principle of supply and demand. While supply has remained on the same trajectory, the demand trajectory has skyrocketed.

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Demand

Because of the production pinch they’re in, the brewery has answered with the purchasing and revamping of a new facility in Clinton Township. But the expansion hasn’t come without its hold ups.

“Anyone who’s ever embarked on an expansion project or any type of construction effort can tell you whenever you think you’re going to open, it’s going to be way later than that,” Piepenbrok said. “Because we’re such a heavily regulated industry there are so many additional governmental bodies that have a say on what we do on a daily basis, it definitely adds challenges.”

Originally scheduled for a 2014 opening, the new Clinton Township location, formerly a home and garden center, will feature a full view into the brewhouse and bottling line, as well as a huge outdoor patio. The brewpub and production facility will feature a full kitchen with a concept menu of gourmet sausages and sides.

“With the production brewery open, that location will produce our core brands not only for distribution, but for both pubs as well,” Piepenbrok said. “That includes DRIPA, Fluffer, Penetration Porter, Loonie Kuhnie, Simcoe Silly, White Devil and maybe a handful of others.

“The Warren brewery will focus on single-batch beers, draft only and more experimental beers.”

Even with the new facility poised to open in 2015, Pipenbrok said it will merely help keep up with the demand Kuhnhenn is facing.

“We’re at capacity now. There’s literally no more physical space in [the Warren] building, which is why we needed the expansion to the new facility,” he said. “Probably within five years of opening the new brewery, we’ll already need another facility. Because there’s no end in sight for the growth of craft beer and locally produced beer as long as it’s good. And we’ll continue to make good beers.”

Beers so good, Piepenbrok and the rest of the crew aren’t shy when it comes to talking about quality.

“I like to walk the fine line of confidence and arrogance. Arrogance is ugly, no one likes that. But, there’s nothing wrong with being confident in what you do and what you produce,” he said. “I have no qualms saying we produce some of the best beers in the world.”

Not only good beers, but meads as well. With the rise of meads across the country, Kuhnhenn plans to stay ahead of the curve.

“We bought two 1,000 gallon fermenters to expand our mead production, with the possibility of using our other fermenters for production,” Bret said. “I see us in the future as possibly being one of the largest mead producers there is.”

Bottling and distribution are very much on the radar for Kuhnhenn. Currently, the brewery does special releases every so often throughout the year. The hold-up for the brewery is the measly four beer bottle filler, which also requires four people to run it.

“We’re, on average, filling nine bottles a minute. We’re talking a ridiculous amount of man hours. There’s a physical toll on our guys,” Piepenbrok said. “They’re waiting on the new place to open because of this sexy new bottling line we have over there, which will bottle up to 250 bottles a minute with three guys running it.”

In order to get ready for a 2015 opening, Piepenbrok said its all hands on deck to get things ready.

“We’re still a very small, family owned company. And the owners are involved on a daily basis,” he said. “Most of the hours of the week, Bret and Eric are over at the new facility getting their hands dirty, wrenching on equipment, installing plumbing, running electrical. That’s what we do. We do what needs to be done.”

Roots

While the brewery’s collective eye is on the prize of growing the Kuhnhenn name and getting their beers into the hands of more consumers, the corner of Mound and Chicago will always be home.

“It’s amazing to think that we’re coming from this little pub on the corner of the Village in Warren with a tiny little brew system to going full-scale production,” Piepenbrok said.

“We want people to know where we’re from. This is the Michigan mentality, this is the Detroit mentality, the Macomb County mentality. We’re hard working, blue collared and that’s not a dirty word. That just means we make things and we’re passionate about making them. We don’t do jobs half-assed. We start things and we finish them. We’re just a bunch of normal dudes making some good beers.”

WARREN — When Dragonmead co-owner Bill Wrobel decided to start a brewery with his father-in-law Earl Scherbarth and longtime friend Larry Channell, it took the trio an entire day to brew their first 10-gallon batch.

A lot has changed since that day in 1997. After continuous tweaks and improvements to their brewing process, Dragonmead currently produces 2,500 barrels per year using a three-barrel system.

However, with a new expansion, Dragonmead’s nanobrewery status (a brewery that produces beer in four barrels or less) is about to become a thing of the past. Dragonmead recently added a new 20-barrel system, and Wrobel sees production numbers climbing to 10,000 barrels per year once test batches are completed and the brewery is running at full capacity.

The new system, purchased from Lake Orion-based Craftwerk Brewing Systems, is completely automated using Braumat software. From one central unit, brewers can control every step of the brewing process. All of the tanks are shown on a computer monitor, and the brewer can simply click on each tank to check or adjust a number of factors, such as fermentation and temperature. Dragonmead is one of only a handful of smaller breweries in Michigan to adopt the system.

“We can crank out much more beer,” said Dragonmead brewer Spencer Channell, noting that the new system is also more time efficient.

A 14-hour day in the old brew house equates to just a 6-hour day in the new brew house, he explained.

Channell added that the smaller system wasn’t conducive to variety, and the expansion will allow the brewers to produce their most in-demand beers — Final Absolution, Erik the Red and Under the Kilt Wee Heavy — in larger quantities, while simultaneously trying new recipes in the old brew house.

“That will free up our smaller system to make more experimental stuff,” he said.

While Dragonmead is already known for having a wide variety of beer, wine and mead available in its pub, Channell said the brewery aims to up the number of taps from 52 to 103 or more, and have at least one of each Beer Judge Certification Program-accepted style and sub-style available.

In addition, Dragonmead will now be able to extend its reach and better meet the demand of its distributors and customers.

“We’re going to go with a new, high-volume distributor in western Wayne, Washtenaw and Livingston counties,” said Wrobel, adding that he’d like to expand distribution even further throughout Michigan and to other states. “We see a demand there for a lot more than what we’re doing (now).”

Wrobel said that Dragonmead’s production and bottling area will see some further expansion, and the wine and mead rooms will be moved to add more pub seating. Because Dragonmead has a limited food menu, he also wants to partner with local food trucks to give customers more variety.

“The (new) system will also help us out with some seasonal brewing,” said Wrobel.

Coming up, head brewer Erik Harms will team up with his father, “Reverend Fred,” to make his annual Christmas ale, Jul Ø1, celebrating his Norwegian heritage. Jul Ø1 will be available in December and January.

Dragonmead is located at 14600 E. 11 Mile Rd. in Warren. For more information, visit www.dragonmead.com.

WARREN — As the last kegs were tapped and the final mugs were filled during the closing weekend of Munich’s Oktoberfest, another celebration was happening closer to home — Kuhnhenn-style.

Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. in Warren held its own Oktoberfest celebration on Saturday, complete with a tented biergarten, German food, live entertainment and plenty of festbier.

“What’s cool about our Oktoberfest is, well, everything,” said Jon Piepenbrok, Kuhnhenn Director of Marketing and Sales, adding that the brewery tries to schedule the annual event a little later in the season, after other metro Detroit breweries have held their own festivities.

“We don’t like to directly compete with our friends who do Oktoberfest,” he said.

Kuhnhenn’s staff members were decked out in dirndl dresses and lederhosen as they poured and served the brewery’s diverse selection of beer, wine and mead. Kuhnhenn Fest, a traditional märzen-style beer, was especially popular, and visitors even had a chance to take a sip (or two) out of a communal, two-liter glass drinking horn that made its way around the crowd.

Piepenbrok noted that Kuhnhenn Fest is unique in that it’s brewed year-round rather than seasonally, so it can be enjoyed any time. It was one of a few beers, along with Fluffer IPA and Oatmeal Stout, that could be purchased in the biergarten during the daylong celebration.

Oktoberfest also featured food from Dan the Smokin’ Man, who put his own spin on traditional German fare. The menu included bratwurst, krautwurst, weisswurst, knackwurst and eisbein (a smoked pork shank), as well as German potato salad, sauerkraut, red cabbage and apple dumplings.

The day’s revelry continued into the evening, with musical performances by George Heritier and the Orbitsuns.

Kuhnhenn fans can expect even more events down the road, including off-site “tap assaults,” special bottle releases at its popular Winter Solstice celebration and the opening of the brewery’s new production facility in Clinton Township.

“I’d like to have (the production facility) open prior to St. Patrick’s Day,” said Piepenbrok. “Our plan is to have the production facility online at the end of February.”

Next up, Kuhnhenn will release its All Hallows Ale, brewed with locally-grown Michigan pie pumpkins, on Oct. 20.

WARREN — Pull up to Falling Down Beer Co., and you might think you turned in the wrong driveway.

What used to house a diner has been revitalized as one of Southeast Michigan’s newest breweries. While it may not look like much from the outside, open the doors and you’ll be treated to great beer and food.

“I always refer back to one of the first Yelp reviews we got — ‘the beer is awesome, the food is fantastic, and the booths and the atmosphere suck,'” said co-owner Mark Larson. “But that’s the general consensus — everyone thinks the beer and food is great.”

Larson, who teamed up with George Lang four years prior to the brewery’s March 29 opening this year, says it was a mix of science and creativity that brought them together.

“(Lang is) more flamboiant and like, ‘let’s see what this does, that does,’ and usually comes out with a great beer,” said Larson. “I took my experience with him, and about 30 books, and went at it.”

It’s that creativity that garnered the brewery’s most popular beer — Ninja Chicken (5.6% ABV), an American Pale Ale that flies out of the brewery whenever it’s brewed.

“Browns are my absolute favorite style of beer to drink…you will always see a brown here on tap,” said Larson.

The 10 barrel system has also given way to some great experimental beers — including a green tea IPA.

But just because the beer is great and food is getting rave reviews doesn’t mean Larson isn’t thinking about a remodel. The team recently completed the first steps to turn Falling Down into a more modern-day brewery by getting rid of the old brick, fast food tiles and replacing it with cement.

Other plans include upgrading to standard pub tables and benches, to create kind of a “indoor beer garden,” according to Larson.

The two owners are also hoping to upgrade the eight-tap system to eventually hold 24 taps, and to start distributing as soon as possible.

For now, though, Larson and Lang are just brewing what they love — for the good of Warren.

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Falling Down Beer Co. is located at 2270 East 10 Mile Road in Warren.