Featured Microbrewery Site: The Old Fire Station

To quote Lyle Lanley, “a town with money is like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how  he got it and dang if he knows how to use it”. Well the same can be said for a vacant building. While the fire department eagerly awaits their new building, city leaders are debating what to do with their soon to be vacant downtown fire station.

A 50 unit apartment complex is what the city leaders are currently mulling over. Monroe needs more housing as much as it needs a monorail. What this town really needs is a brewery. A place that people will drive in from Dundee, Flat Rock or Erie to visit just like they did when we had downtown stores like Kline’s. A destination that brings outsiders in to not only visit the brewery but also other surrounding businesses. When we visit Tecumseh Brewing Company we also visit Boulevard Market, Spotted Cow and many other of their downtown stores..

The old fire station is ugly. If a garage had a baby with a jiffy pop container this is what it would look like, I have never seen a building that looks like this one any where else. This is it’s charm. A building so uniquely weird looking  it would stand apart from any brewery in Michigan. Let’s not tear down another building perfect for a brewery like The Armory or the old paper mill offices. Let’s save and sell to the right business man to develop a brewery.

I have tried to find information about this building. There is not a lot about it online. I can’t find the square feet but it has two floors and it’s big enough to fit three 50 ft ladder trucks with room to spare. It was built in 1969. That is pretty young for a building. The first floor is brick. I have no idea what the UFO sitting on top of it is made of but I am sure it’s space age.

I know this is a lost cause. They will tear down this building to replace it with some generic looking town houses that will be partially occupied. And Monroe will lose another unique space that could have been repurposed for something special. Maybe this idea not for us. It’s more of a Frenchtown idea.

Bring a Beer and I’ll Salivate

The founders of Temperance, Michigan – so inspired by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union that they named their fledgling community after it – would be shocked to learn that their beloved town is now the hotbed of Monroe County’s beer scene. The once dry city has The Liquor Cabinet, one of the best beer stores in SE Michigan, and Forest View Lanes, a bowling alley with an insane craft beer menu. What really would have the bun stranglers in a tizzy is that their hamlet is now the home to Pavlov’s Brewing Company, Monroe County’s newest microbrewery! Huzzah!

I visited Pavlov’s last Saturday. The brewery was constructed in an old bank and has a really nice space inside. I was impressed with the variety of beer they offered. There was something for everyone on the menu. They offer four pour flights or you can order taste by the beer. I thought the best of the four was Submission, a hefeweizen that was really well balanced with some fruit flavor. I also enjoyed Stinkeye which is their IPA. I liked it enough to take a growler home. Bringing home a growler to my wife makes me feel like a hunter/gatherer. I was really impressed with their beer considering how young the place is.

I will be curious to see how they utilize their space in the future.Okay, I’m just throwing out some ideas. It’s an old bank. I want to fill out my flight sheet with a pen on a chain so I can’t steal it. Also, it would be great to pull up to the drive-through and have howlers delivered through the pneumatic tubes. And I want to have a rye malt variation of their Stickeye called Stinkrye. Sorry, I love puns.

I’m really excited about having another brewery here in Monroe County. Better yet, I am thrilled that I love the place. Seriously, make the trip down to Temperance to visit Pavlov’s. It’s worth it. Just let me know and I will try to meet up with you.

For a Toledo Blade article on Pavlov’s click here.

 

 

Repeal Day, Monroe and Prohibition

A state convention gathered in Utah on this date in 1933 to ratify the 21st Amendment. A three quarter majority was needed to make it official and Utah became the 36th state to do so. Making December 5 the official day the 21st Amendment was ratified. Now this date will be known as Repeal Day.
Of course history is more complicated than that and I plan on covering some of those stories in the next few months. During my research I discovered a great blog post by Kathy Warnes. It is about Monroe during the beginning of prohibition. I will share the first paragraph then link it below. It’s fun and informative.

Rumrunner Muskrat La Framboise preferred to move his bootleg whiskey stored in jute bags tied together at the tops like ears in his boat equipped with a stopper resembling a bathtub plug. He rowed along the Detroit River Highway from Ecorse to its mouth near Monroe taking orders and delivering his liquid refreshment. When a government agent or policeman spotted him and gave chase, he pulled the plug and the boat would sink. After the drama of the chase and capture died down, he’d return to his boat and dive for his liquor, or if he had a large shipment, he would bring a few friends along to help. Muskrat became as skilled as a loon diving for fish at this method of River recycling.

Bootlegging Down The Avenue de Booze

Featured Brewery Site: 1121 S. Monroe St.

1121 S Monroe

Welcome to our first Featured Brewery Site. Today we are taking a look at the old Wm. Noland & Sons building. It was once used to store excavating equipment. At 5 thousand square feet, it is large and open space with high ceilings. The location is less than a mile south of town on the edge of the city line.
The large space would give it an Original Gravity feel. The openness means you can create any design you wish. The property itself is around 2.5 acres which leaves plenty of space for parking. You will need it because there is no street parking.
The best feature of this property is the back section which runs along Plum Creek near Lake Monroe. That has unlimited potential. It can be used as a patio, a small hop garden, an area for games(volleyball, cornhole etc.) or even a sitting area similar to the Hoplot where you could have a BBQ pit and maybe a fire place which would take special permit.
The biggest problem with this property is the cost. It’s over 400k and in the end may cost around a million to make into a brewery. That is a huge investment. But if this property was done correctly it has the potential to be unique enough to make it worth the drive to our corner Michigan.

Kuhnhenn Brewing Company announces expansion plans

 

kuhnhen

(WARREN, Mich.) – Kuhnhenn Brewing Company is expanding into a full-scale production and packaging facility, located at 36000 Groesbeck Hwy in Clinton Township, MI. The property formerly held a Home and Garden Center retailer, but has been vacant for several years.

The 35,000 square foot building will be divided into production, cellaring, packaging and cold storage, in addition to a tasting room and administrative offices. The brewery will feature a four-vessel, 38-barrel Huppmann brewhouse and enough fermentation tanks to allow for a projected capacity of nearly 20,000 bbls (1 bbl = 31 US Gallons).

Kuhnhenn has acquired a high-speed Krones bottling line for packaging beer for the sale to retail stores, while canning is also being considered. Production and distribution of Kuhnhenn Mead will also increase, thanks to the purchase of a 24-head Gea bottling line, specifically designed for packaging wine.

Distribution of keg and case product will initially focus on Southeast Michigan, with further penetration into the rest of the state within the first year. The focus will be on four year-round brands, three seasonals, and several limited release offerings.

“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a number of years,” stated Eric Kuhnhenn, Partner and Brewmaster of Kuhnhenn Brewing Company. “It’s exciting to think that we’ll finally begin to make at least a short-term dent in the demand that has grown for our beer.”

“Furthermore, we are extremely excited to keep the production of our beers in Macomb County, which we all call home,” stated Bret Kuhnhenn. “We hope this will draw more attention to the growing beer scene in Metro-Detroit, and contribute to the economic rebirth in Macomb County.”

With the opening of the new facility, Kuhnhenn Brewing Company is expected to hire an additional 20-30 staff members, in both production and the tasting room. The facility is projected to be operational in the first quarter of 2014. The current Warren location will remain open, with a full line of beers, and focus on the production of small-batch experimental brews, as well as an increased barrel-aging program. A Small Distillers License is also being added at the Warren location, with more information to come.

While the beer market as a whole remains relatively stagnant in Michigan and throughout the US, sales of craft beer continue to grow at exponential rates. With this growth, wholesalers and retailers are taking notice.

“We find ourselves in a unique position,” stated Jon Piepenbrok, Director of Marketing and Sales for Kuhnhenn Brewing Company. “We have built the brand and created demand for the beer; now we get to expand at a time and degree we feel comfortable. We’ve watched the industry expand with us and around us, all the while developing a plan for growth. Now we can make that jump.”

Bret and Eric Kuhnhenn began brewing their own beer in college. Kuhnhenn Brewing Company was founded in 1998, selling homebrew supplies out of the family hardware store. A Microbrewery License was granted in 2001, and the brothers began selling their beer by the pint and growler out of the Warren brewery. Their flagship, Loonie Kuhnie Pale Ale, continues to be the brewery’s best seller.

Kuhnhenn Brewing Company is consistently ranked in the top breweries in the world on beer rating websites Beer Advocate and RateBeer. They are known both for their high-gravity experimental beers, as well as their accurate interpretations of traditional styles.

The brewery has won countless awards at competitions across the world. In 2012 they were awarded a Gold Medal in the IPA category at the World Beer Cup for DRIPA (Double Rice IPA), the largest category entered and one typically dominated by large West Coast breweries. Kuhnhenn Braggot (a mead/beer hybrid) also took home a Bronze Medal in the 2012 Great American Beer Festival.

Summer at the OG

If I were to open a brewery in Monroe it wouldn’t be much different from Original Gravity in OG Logo F1Milan. The would be different. Probably some horrible pun like “The Nash Tun”, “Decoction Nash” or even “No-Beer-Named-After-General-Custer Brewing Co.” The latter would just be to get that question out of the way.

There is so much to love about Original Gravity in addition to their tasty beer… and that should be more than enough. The atmosphere is relaxed and family friendly. OG believes in cultivating community. On Wednesdays OG has a farmers market set up so you can buy your veggies for the week.  It is the type of place that you can’t believe there was a time before it existed.

I particularly love going there in the summer. The patio is open and you can sit in the shade and enjoy a beer . It’s something man has done since civilization began. Or at least since man invented patios. It’s engrained in us.  When you think of how many summers you have in your life time why would you sit inside when drinking a great summer beer like Two-Wheeler?

OG turns five this year and so does my oldest daughter. I joked the other day that I remembered that Maggie turns five because Original Gravity does. Everyone is invited to OG’s party this Saturday, June 15. You aren’t invited to Maggie’s but a gift of beer for her Dad would be appreciated.

Below are just a few of the highlights of what looks to be a great summer at the OG…

OG 5-year Anniversary Party on June 15th!
10 IPAs on Tap!
Beer Inspired BBQ provided  by Ypsilanti’s Red Rock BBQ from 2pm til gone!
 Live Music on the (soon to be renovated) patio from Valentiger wsg Steve Leaf @ 5pm!
Additional outside seating and bar will be available.
No Cover!

Original Gravity Farmer’s Market!! Wednesdays
The farmers Market is now OPEN for the Season. Thanks to Zilke Vegetable Farms, Erie Bread Company and everyone else who helps make the Wednesday Market awesome!

 

Muskrat Mashers’ Beer On Tap at Corner Brewery

There are many things that I love about Corner Brewery but the top of my list is their sense Muskrat Mashersof community. They even let local homebrew clubs come in and brew on their rat pad system so they can show off their beers during their annual Rat Fest. A lot of beer is brewed for this event and even though every ticket is sold there is still beer left over. That is good news for anyone that couldn’t get to Rat Fest in January. Starting February 27 the remaining beer is released every Wednesday night at 6pm. Growlers are available after 9pm if there is beer left.

The Muskrat Mashers, Monroe’s homebrew club’s release party will be on March 6. I would like to invite anyone interested in coming out to join us. It doesn’t matter if you brew or not we would love to share a beer with you.

Here is our beer list…

  • Bourbon Oak Brown Ale: Chocolate, vanilla, hints of oak and bourbon.
  • Chocolate Rye Porter: Delicious chocolate malt flavors with hints of rye spices.
  • Citra Bomb: Crisp grapefruit citrus flavors shine through this India Pale Ale.
  • Cayenne Cherry Rye: Tart, sweet cherry, spicy rye notes with a subtle cayenne heat finish.

Click here for the Rat Pad release dates.  There will be a lot of fantastic beers released during this series. Check it out.

 

 

 

Wolverine State Brewing Company announces capacity expansion

image003(ANN ARBOR, Mich) – The Wolverine State Brewing Company is expanding for the second time in two years.  With the arrival and installation of new fermentation and conditioning tanks being added to its cellaring operation, the brewery’s production capacity is doubling.   Sales in 2012 exceeded company expectations with nearly 1100 barrels sold between retail and wholesale business.

In 2012, the company declared that it is “Leading the Lager Revolution,” and it remains one of the nation’s only lager-centric craft microbreweries with 15 different lagers currently on tap in the Tap Room. The brewery’s three flagship beers—Wolverine Premium, Dark, Amber lagers—are available in six-packs at most major grocery store chains in Washtenaw and Livingston counties including several Meijer, Whole Foods, Busch’s and Kroger stores.  In 2013 a fourth year-round bottled beer will be available:  the unique and highly sought after Gulo Gulo.  This ground-breaking beer is styled as an “India Pale Lager,” and is brewed with over 3 lbs. of hops per barrel and dry-hopped twice.

 

As a lager-centric small brewery, the Wolverine State Brewing Company is proud to push boundaries for a once-maligned segment of beers. This year, patrons will be able to try numerous new one-of-a-kind lager beers, including:

 

  • BARISTA – a brown lager made with coffee in collaboration with RoosRoast of Ann Arbor
  • REVILO – an India Red Lager
  • DRAG ME TO HELLES –  Maibock
  • GREENTHUMB – a lower alcohol, more citrusy version of the India Pale Lager, Gulo Gulo
  • CHRYSALIS – a Belgian Wit lager
  • VERANO – a Mexican style lager
  • WOOD AGED SERIES –  including a German-style bock aged on hickory and an India Pale Lager aged on soft maple.

The brewers at the Wolverine State Brewing Company hand craft every batch with care and precision and allow ample time for all the lagers to come into their own. This means that the time “from grain to glass” is much longer, and the amount of beer available for sale or purchase is less, than at ale-centric breweries.  The sales numbers can be deceiving since many ale breweries can produce and sell up to 5000 barrels with the same or similar tank capacity. But when the founders of The Wolverine State Brewing Company decided to “go all lager” they put their time, money and craftsmanship behind this unique and expensive business model.  So far, all signs point to success, with a Tap Room expansion done, and standing room only crowds most nights.

The lagers-versus-ales-debate is one of taste and preference for drinkers, but for breweries, it is a matter of business choice.  The Wolverine State Brewing Company has become a local favorite very quickly. And has more plans for expansion in the works.

Have You Been to OG Lately?

A few days ago Mike O’Brien posted about a recent  to Original Gravity on the Craft Beer in Michigan Yahoo group. I enjoyed reading it so I thought I would share it with you. I asked Mike to add a short introduction (he made it modest) for those who don’t know him.

I am Mike O’Brien  – BrewGyver. I spend my days – and some evenings – helping breweries stay running. I did help Brad install the equipment at OG and was there  the day I did the sampling  to help Brad rebuild the brewhouse pump. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Brad  and sampling a couple of his new beers. Brad’s Belgian offering  is now all grown up.  He has taken off his Training Wheels and is now serving 2-Wheeler Wit. A delicately balance beer  with ‘just the right amount’ of spice.

Ez-Duz-It is his offering for a lighter IPA (4.2%)  that is lacking nothing that you would expect in a hoppy IPA – great Amarillo character . . . and you can have more than one! 🙂

The latest addition  of his BellyWasher (Scotch Ale)  is nicely smokey with an addition of crystal rye?! If you think that his ‘famous’ 440 Pepper Smoker  now has just a little bit more of a kick  you are right. Brad added a couple of Habanero peppers to this batch – still super drinkable!

The current beer list on a chalk board -you can read from across the room 🙂 Brad’s  always delicious  sandwiches  are now available on beer bread from the Erie Bread Co. Wednesday’s Erie Bread Co.’s beer bread  is sold by the loaf. This week was Porter Rye – mmm! If you haven’t been there in a while – it’s time to go back! If you have never been to OG?! – shame on you! Look what you are missing!

Mike O’Brien
BrewGyver

I share Mike’s love of Original Gravity. It is what I would want my brewery to be if I owned one. Fantastic beer. Brad’s sense of community (using a local bakery, hosting a farmer’s market) and a family atmosphere makes OG a special part of the community. Thanks Brad! We will be out to drink one soon.