After falling in love with craft beer culture, North Pier Brewing Co. owner Jay Fettig started to plan his own brewery right out of business school.
Acknowledging his lack of brewing experience in a professional setting, Fettig began the search for a suitable compatriot with the desire to build a brewery from the ground up.
The search culminated with the hiring of Steve Distasio, a recent graduate from Brewlab in Sunderland in the U.K., who joined the team in late 2015. Distasio, in addition to his formal education, spent time learning his craft at Chain O’Lakes Brewing and Rogue Ales.
North Pier has distribution in the western and central lower peninsula and is currently looking for distribution deals in the metro Detroit area.
Distasio’s experience and Fettig’s tastes lined up nicely to refine the offerings they were to be releasing.
“Our goal is to create high-quality, interesting beers with a particular focus on Belgian and European-inspired ales,” says Fettig. “We want our beers to stand out from the crowd, but we also want our beers to be extremely drinkable so that you keep coming back for more.”
“Brewing a solid true-to-style base beer is extremely important,” adds Distasio. “We don’t want to hide behind other ingredients. We do experiment a little and do enjoy many of the beers other breweries are making, but we also like to sit back and enjoy a few without having our mouths overpowered or always drinking a beer with a super-high alcohol content.”
Customer favorites are The Conjurer (Belgian Golden Strong), Happy Guy (Dry-hopped Pilsner), and Buckrider (Belgian IPA). Fettig and Distasio say that Springtooth (Farmhouse Double IPA) is an employee favorite.
Starting out on a seven-barrel system in a 2,700 square foot brewery allowed some room for expansion while refining the recipes and growing in to the distribution plan Fettig envisioned.
In 2017, the brewery expanded the potential annual capacity from about 800 barrels per year to about 4,000 barrels.
The addition of larger indoor and outdoor fermentation tanks, a canning line, and a new warehouse space were instrumental in the growth plan.
“We are a production brewery with multiple shifts,” Distasio says. “I like the flexibility of a later start time, but some days I’m working until 2 or 3 in the morning to get things clean and ready for the next shift. Still, I am making beer, which I love doing”
Brewery tours are available on request, but should be confirmed ahead of time, if possible.
Filling out the rest of the 4,700 square foot facility is the 2,000 square foot taproom.
A staff of six serves up the pints and flights in-house from the 16 potential beers on tap. Cans, growlers, howlers, and kegs are available to go.
A kitchen is currently scheduled to open in March 2018. In the meantime, the brewery offers house-made soda and popcorn and allows patrons to bring their own food, order from local restaurants, or take part in periodic food truck events.
Although North Pier does not make or serve wine, they allow customers to bring their own wine and pay a modest per bottle cork fee.
Dogs are also welcome, provided that they remain on a leash, and stay out of the brewery area.
North Pier Brewing Company
670 North Shore Drive
Benton Harbor, MI 49022