Beverage World - March 2011 - (Page 43)
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Michigan Brewing Co. is committed to keeping things local. By John Holl
eeping things local is important to Bob Mason. A longtime fixture of the central Michigan business scene, he has worked over the years to give his customers something to be proud of at the time of purchase and feel like they are helping their fellow residents. After a successful run operating gas stations and restaurants along a stretch of I-96, a trip to Portland, Ore. in the early 1990s opened his eyes to the growing world of American craft beer. Around the same time, it turned out that Michigan had amended its alcohol laws allowing for the creation of small local breweries. Mason readily admits that he had not been a home brewer or thought much of making his own beer, but called around to some distributors that he knew through the restaurants and made inquires about getting his beer to market. Satisfied with the initial answers, Mason constructed some brewing equipment in his basement and began to develop recipes. After about six months, he ordered a 30-barrel brew house with four fermentation tanks and four conditioning tanks and opened the Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville, a small city located between Detroit and Grand Rapids. In a marketplace where smaller breweries have to compete against larger, more established breweries, Mason knew that hitting the ground running was paramount to making the business work. The company started with one distributor and today has contracts with 22 distributors around Michigan. Last year, Michigan Brewing Co. produced 8,000 barrels of beer. “I wanted to build a brewery that would interest distributors because they are the lifeline to make things work,” explains Mason, who is the brewery’s president and CEO. Michigan Brewing’s beers—Wheatland Wheat, Sunset Amber Lager, Michigan Nut Brown Ale, Mackinac Pale Ale, High Seas IPA, Peninsula Porter and Superior Stout—hit the market with great success. They are available in 12-ounce bottles and kegs and are currently distributed to surrounding states like Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The brewery also distributes to Texas, thanks to Mason taking over the Celis brand of beers around 2002. Celis was originally the American venture of Belgian Brewmaster Pierre Celis, who spent decades brewing in the famed city of Hoegaarden and opened his own brewery in Austin, opening a new world of flavors and styles to the Lone Star State.
BOB MASON, president and CEO of Michigan Brewing Co., has built a craft brewery with hometown appeal.
Mason moved the operation to Michigan. He kept the existing styles—White, Pale Bock, Raspberry and Grand Cru—and was met with approval when Pierre Celis visited the Michigan operation years later. Mason distributes the Celis beers to Texas and has added a few of his own Michigan beers to the mix. Despite the economic recession, Mason says local customers remained loyal. One native son, Robert James Ritchie, took notice. Performing under the name Kid Rock, Ritchie wanted to work with a brewer that had local ties. Enter Mason and his brewery and after some design and concept meetings, Kid Rock’s American Badass Lager hit shelves in 2009. Made with two and six row barley with some Michigangrown wheat added to the mash, it is light on hops and winds up around 4 percent alcohol by volume, says Mason. The beer has done more than just bring a party atmosphere to concerts and the after-party: it has created local jobs. The packagMARCH 2011_BEVERAGE WORLD_43
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Beverage World - March 2011
Beverage World - March 2011
The Craft Beer Market in Chile and Argentina
Update on Beer Excise Tax • Oskar Blues Grows 60 Percent • A New Microbrewery Opens in Boston
On the Page
Here’s to You
Cover Story: Arrogant? Not Really
Exclusive Data: Truck Trends Survey
Mt. Shasta Spring Water Co.
Packaging: Craft Beer in Cans
Merchandising: The New Beer Bar
R&D: Craft Beer Ingredients
Production & Plant: Profiles in Production- Boulevard Brewing
Operations Observations: Breweries- Change & Challenge
Supply Chain: Third Party Logistics
Fleet of the Month: Deer Park Direct
Beverage World - March 2011