A rare thing happened in Detroit yesterday. Two breweries opened their doors on the same day, practically right across the street from each other.
Brew Detroit and Batch Brewing Company bring two new options for craft beer lovers — just a short walk away from each other.
There is a spirit of community and collaboration between the two venues. Employees at the two breweries helped each other out during the construction phase with ingredient and equipment trades and brewing advice.
Many other area brewers were also quick to lend a hand, demonstrating the camaraderie of the brewing community. The general feeling is that support for each other helps advance the craft beer movement, which is good for all craft brewers.
Batch Brewing Company
Batch Brewing Company is Detroit’s first “nano” brewery. Their mission is to bring small batches of beer that are big on flavor.
Founder and brewer Stephen Rogison spent some time explaining the long process to get the brewery up and running. It has been a two-year labor of love — from the first steps of preparing his proposal for the Hatch Detroit business incubator program and the long hours spent on DIY build-out (at two different locations) to installing new concrete floors and the brew system. City inspectors were completing final rounds just a few hours prior to opening.
“We had a lot of help from friends along the way,” Rogison says. “From the floors and wood paneling on the walk-in cooler to great advice like electrical drops from the ceiling to keep the cords out of the way. We really appreciate everyone who’s contributed to our vision.”
Batch currently has a 6 x 4 barrel brew system, with a 7.5-barrel brew house. Rogison expects to produce around 625 barrels of beer for 2015. If his goals are achieved, he hopes to expand capacity to a 15-barrel system and hit 1,300 barrels produced in the future.
Batch also offers distinct food; many recipes include the company’s beer in the ingredients.
Rogison and head cellarman Patrick Ahrens walked me through the opening day beer roster of beers, answering questions about the ingredients or process of a particular batch as I sampled my way though.
“Whenever possible, we’re trying to use locally-sourced ingredients,” Ahrens says. “But because we’re just getting our feet under us, it’s sometimes difficult to find what we’re looking for. Once we’ve had time to develop relationships with the local suppliers, we’ll be using more Michigan ingredients.”
The lineup was strong and diverse. The roster included Dead Irish Writers (Dry Irish Stout), Midnight Marauder (Black IPA), Way 2 Biggie (Barleywine), Wheated Kolsch (Hybrid Wheat Ale with Kolsch Yeast), Obscure Reference (Imperial Stout), Nearly Noble IPA (a concept IPA inspired by German Pilsners), Empire Pale Ale (American Pale with Michigan-grown Empire Hops), and Vienna Mild Ale (an ale brewed with a Vienna Lager malt profile using American hops and yeast).
Each beer was very clean and maintained its own distinct flavor profile without getting lost along the way.
“We’re trying to be true to style, but we’re also experimenting a little bit,” says Rogison. “We want to make solid beer.”
Batch Brewing Company
1400 Porter Street
Detroit, MI 48216
Brew Detroit plants its proverbial feet in the opposite end of the beer spectrum from Batch Brewing Company. The large facility brews its own craft beer, but also serves as a contract brewer for breweries wanting to increase production without having to increase debt load or physically expand their facilities.
Brew Detroit has been in operation for over a year, and has just opened a 7,000 sq. ft. tasting room to show off their brewing prowess. The bar was built using wood reclaimed from palettes and shipping containers.
The complex has plenty of space for private parties with the tasting room (up to 80 people), a smaller private room (up to 20 people), and a space on the brewery floor for large events. Several community-based organizations have already held events and fundraisers at Brew Detroit.
There is no kitchen, but food trucks are on premises on Fridays and Saturdays (currently Delectabowl and The Mean Weenie, respectively). Patrons are welcome to bring their own food or get delivery from one of the many local restaurants.
The 68,000 sq. ft. factory is capable of producing more than 70,000 barrels, or close to 1 million cases, annually. Bottling and canning lines cover part of the brewery floor space, and as an added bonus, the line contains the actual bottling machine featured in the movie “Strange Brew,” which was purchased from Stone Brewing in California.
The massive 100-barrel brew system is fully automated, which helps the staff maintain the identity and integrity of each brewery’s offerings. A small chemical laboratory tests each batch to match the flavor, color, and consistency for each client.
Guided tours of the brewery will be starting up soon. They will be held each Saturday at 2 p.m. Tours will cost $10 per person, and each visitor will receive a Brew Detroit pint glass, samples along the way, and a full pint in the tasting room after the tour.
Brew Detroit currently produces beer for three Michigan brands: Atwater Brewery, BADASS American Lager, and Motor City Brewing Works. Additional brand contracts are in the works.
Brew Detroit has invested $9.6 million into the facility and employs 25-30 people in the brewery and taproom, with a goal of 50 overall employees by 2017.
Part of the excitement of the smaller pilot system is the potential for experimentation and collaborations. This 2-barrel system (4-barrel fermentation) produces the beer for the tasting room and has already been used by several visiting brewers for test and one-off batches.
Erika Brockberg, director of retail operations, has indicated that Brew Detroit will also host homebrew competitions where the winning recipe will be brewed on the pilot system and released for sale in the taproom.
A current pilot system offering in the taproom is Gentleman of the Road, an 8% ABV Double Rice India Pale Ale, brewed in collaboration with Nowhere in Particular – a gypsy brewer who doesn’t maintain his own brewery.
Among the other options available on site are: The Bee’s Knees (Honey Amber), Daywalker (Red Ale), Harmony (English Special Bitter), Sirius (Black Ale), Classy Brunette (Brown Ale), BADASS (American Lager), and Tripel Lindy (Belgian Tripel).
With the smaller batches, the beer rotation in the taproom will be quick. New beers will hit the lineup as soon as the previous ones are gone.
Brew Detroit is also committed to the community, pledging that at least 50 percent of the staff will be comprised of residents of the city of Detroit. The ownership group of Brew Detroit, including: Don Foss, Keith Sirois, Mark Rieth, and David Crawford, demonstrates its support of the community through support of The New Common School, a foundation benefiting education and needy children in Detroit.
1401 Abbott St.
Detroit, MI 48216