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.

Charlevoix Seeks Brewery

This summer I received an email from Keith Carey of the Charlevoix Downtown Development Authority. In it he mentioned the DDA’s desire to have a microbrewery in their town so I asked him if he was willing to promote it on our blog. He was.

I agree with Keith. A microbrewery would be a fantastic addition to Charlevoix. Way back in 2007 when people had computer desks and you had to text using your phone dial pad Sarah and I drove through it looking for a brewpub. While we  didn’t find one, what we found was a beautiful city ( it made the Forbes list of America’s Prettiest Towns) in both location and architecture that was bustling with shoppers perusing great shops and dining at local restaurants.

I finally “sat down” for a virtual  Q & A  with Keith this week about the prospects of a brewery in Charlevoix. Here’s what he had to say:

What type of city is Charlevoix?

Charlevoix is a city of 3,000 year round residents that typically swells to 30,000 or more during the summer months. Our community welcomes a significant number of summer residents, or “resorters”, who relocate to their summer homes in Charlevoix between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Downtown Charlevoix is nestled on an isthmus between majestic Lake Michigan and beautiful Round Lake.  Along with its beautiful water views and million-dollar sunsets, Downtown Charlevoix is most noted for its signature drawbridge which opens every hour and half hour and its truly unique waterfront shopping and dining experience.

Downtown Charlevoix is also home to the second most popular municipal marina in Michigan.  This facility, along with the two square block expanse of East Park, received a $13.5 million upgrade less than five years ago.  This massive renovation project expanded the number of full-service boat slips to 75 and included a new harbor master building and state-of-the-art outdoor performance pavilion.  The project resulted in East Park being recognized as one of only ten “Great Public Spaces for 2009” by the American Planning Association.  Charlevoix was also recently recognized as the #2 “Best Yachting Town in the World” by Yachting magazine and its readers in July 2011.

What do you see as the mutual benefits of having a brewery in Charlevoix?

Charlevoix provides an excellent opportunity for a brewery due to its loyal, year-round customer base, strong summer tourism season, unique geographic location, and vibrant events and activities calendar.

The significant upgrades to Downtown Charlevoix’s municipal marina and signature East Park also make buildings within our downtown development authority boundaries eligible for participation in Michigan’s Redevelopment Liquor License program, offering licenses at a reduced cost in exchange for private building improvement investment.

Becoming home to a brewery would broaden Charlevoix’s eatery inventory and aid us in our efforts to make our downtown a must-stop destination for dining and entertainment.

Any brewer would want to know if your water source is Lake Michigan. Is that the case?

Yes, homes and businesses within the Charlevoix city limits, including Downtown Charlevoix, receive their filtered and treated water directly from Lake Michigan.

Can anyone interested in opening a brewery contact you?

I’d welcome any opportunity to speak with folks interested in opening a brewpub here in Charlevoix (or any other business, for that matter).  I can be reached by calling 231 547-3257 or emailing kcarey@cityofcharlevoix.org.  If someone simply wants to learn more about Downtown Charlevoix, they can visit our webpage at www.DowntownCharlevoix.com or our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DowntownCharlevoix.

I would like to thank Keith for taking part in this short Q&A. I wish you luck in finding a brewer to make Charlevoix their home.

Night of the Tasty Beer

It’s Halloween!  And if you like classic horror flicks and great and unique craft beer then Original Gravity in Milan is where you want to be Saturday. The beer is a small batch release called Pumpkin Gingerbread Ale. It is a brown ale brewed with pumpkin pies spices, ginger, vanilla beans and molasses.

The movie is the cult zombie classic, “Night of the Living Dead”. I love zombie movies! Especially since vampires have jumped the shark in the last few years. They are walking around brooding with six pack abs in love triangles with werewolves. Werewolves are the Curly Joe Besser of the movie monster world who should be no contest. While vampire movies are playing to the 17 magazine crowd, zombies have have taken over. Movies like “Planet terror”, “28 Days Later”, “Shaun of the Dead”,” Zombieland” and “Bubba Ho-Tep” have been handing vampires their brains for lunch. Mmm… brains! And “Night of the living Dead” is in the grandfather of them all. It’s a great horror film with just enough camp to make it fun to see with a crowd.

Here are the event details.

Brew and Scary Movie Night!!
Come enjoy a glass of our latest Small Batch creation “Pumpkin Gingerbread Ale” and checkout the 1968 Zombie Classic “Night of the Living Dead”!
Small batch on tap @ 6pm, movie starts @ 8pm.