Published in Food/Agribusiness
Thornapple Brewing Co. co-founder Jeff Coffey, left, brewer Sebastian Henao, center, and co-founder Eric Fouch, right, show off the bar and cooler space where the Cascade Township brewery will expand. A grand re-opening is planned for June 15, coinciding with the company’s second anniversary. Thornapple Brewing Co. co-founder Jeff Coffey, left, brewer Sebastian Henao, center, and co-founder Eric Fouch, right, show off the bar and cooler space where the Cascade Township brewery will expand. A grand re-opening is planned for June 15, coinciding with the company’s second anniversary. COURTESY PHOTO

Craft Beverage Business Briefs: Thornapple, Big Lake expand; Wise Men, Alebird open; Starving Artist gets go-ahead for taproom

BY MiBiz Staff Friday, May 31, 2019 10:56am

Here is a roundup of recent West Michigan craft beverage business news compiled by MiBiz

Thornapple Brewing to expand taproom

CASCADE TOWNSHIP — As Thornapple Brewing Co. neared its second anniversary, the Grand Rapids-area brewery realized it needed more space for patrons and production.

That’s why the company decided to add about 4,000 square feet and more than double the space for customers in its taproom. The move adds another 90 seats to the Cascade Charter Township microbrewery, distillery, winery and restaurant, located at 6262 28th St. SE.

As well, the Thornapple Brewing expansion includes a new 14-tap bar and 400-square-foot cooler, which will allow the company to expand its production capacity and “get more beer into distribution,” according to co-founder Eric Fouch.

According to data from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission, the company, which started in 2016, sold 275.9 barrels of beer in the state last year, the equivalent of more than 68,400 pints.

The new lounge area will feature games like darts and cornhole, as well as a quiet section.

Thornapple plans to open the new space for its second anniversary on June 15, when it also plans to release its first bourbon.

“We reached a point where expanding was necessary,” Thornapple Brewing co-owner Jeff Coffey said in a statement. “With added space and seating, customers won’t have to wait in line anymore.”

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Wise Men Distillery opens in Kentwood

KENTWOOD — The Grand Rapids suburb of Kentwood is adding to its roster of craft beverage companies with the opening today of Wise Men Distillery LLC’s tasting room at 4717 Broadmoor Ave. SE.

Founded by Tom Borisch, Jason Post and Zack Van Dyke, Wise Men Distillery plans to offer a range of spirits, including vodka, white whiskey, rum and Apple Pie Moonshine, both at its taproom and via distribution.

The distillery’s tasting room features a “rustic” bar and will serve flights and cocktails, according to a statement.

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Big Lake Brewery adds production capacity

HOLLAND — Big Lake Brewing LLC hopes to continue its growth spurt with the addition of two 30-barrel fermenters and brite tanks.

The capital investment expands the company’s brewing capacity by 50 percent and raises its possible output to 5,000 barrels of beer annually.

Big Lake Brewing sold 2,064.2 barrels of beer in Michigan last year, up more than 125 percent from 914.6 barrels in 2017, according to data from the MLCC.

That growth came as the company in December 2017 moved into a larger taproom in downtown Holland at 13 W. 7th St.

“We’re working hard to ensure we can continue to supply retail accounts across the state, and also stay small and nimble enough to continue having fun and experimenting with our Michigan-focused branding and beers,” Big Lake Brewing Sales Manager Keith Henry said in a statement.

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Alebird Taphouse & Brewery opens in former Byron Hotel

BYRON CENTER — After a legal battle that resulted in the company changing its name to avoid confusion with a nearby competitor, Alebird Taphouse & Brewery has opened its doors in Byron Center.

Alebird features a full menu and is open seven days a week in the former Byron Hotel location at 2619 84th St. SW.

The brewpub serves a range of its own beers, as well as guest taps and domestics, plus wine and cocktails.

As MiBiz first reported in February, the company agreed to change its name from Railbird Taphouse and Brewery after being sued for trademark infringement by Dutton-based Railtown Brewing Co., which is located less than 10 miles away.

Alebird was allowed to use the name for its flagship beer, the Railbird Pale Ale. Under the terms of the settlement with Railtown Brewing, the beer can only be sold for consumption at Alebird Taphouse, not in any to-go packages.

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Starving Artist Brewing gets OK to add taproom

LUDINGTON — After two months of public hearings and legal wrangling, the Mason County Planning Commission on May 7 approved a rezoning request that paves the way for an expansion at Starving Artist Brewing Co.

The farm-based brewery, located at 634 S. Stiles Rd. in Mason County’s Amber Township, east of Ludington, sought the rezoning so it could open a small tasting room to offer pints to patrons, according to a report in the Ludington Daily News.

Founder Andy Thomas told the publication he was “very, very relieved and ecstatic” that the Planning Commission approved the measure, which he first requested in March.

Starving Artist Brewing won $50,000 in the inaugural Momentum Business Plan Competition in 2016, as MiBiz reported at the time. Since then, brewery expanded its capacity and distribution throughout parts of the Lower Peninsula.

The company sold 148.8 barrels of beer last year, according to MLCC data.

Adding the taproom gives Starving Artist room to grow its business locally. Previously, the company could only offer a limited number of beer samples or sell packaged beer to-go from its location.

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