Brewery boom or bust? [Petoskey News Review]
- Sean Miller (231) 439-9378 firstname.lastname@example.orgSep 9, 2015
NORTHERN MICHIGAN — With the beer industry growing faster than ever, when, if ever, does an area become saturated with new breweries?
The Otsego-Emmet-Charlevoix county area already has some established breweries, including Big Buck in Gaylord, Beards Brewery and Petoskey Brewing in Petoskey. Most recently, Lake Charlevoix Brewing, the Mackinaw Trail Brewing Company and the Tunnel Vision Brewery have popped up as well.
Tunnel Vision brewery, a part of Pond Hill Farm in Harbor Springs, recently hit its one year mark back in April.
"We were legally a brewery as of April 11, 2014," said Jonathan Gaudreau, one of the brewers at Tunnel Vision. "Before that, Benjamin Dark, our head brewer, did a lot of home brewing," he said.
Tunnel Vision started small and grew from there. In their first two months, they never broke over $100 in beer sales a day.
"We were excited just to be selling beer. We never really thought of what do next, though," said Gaudreau.
Things started picking up for the brewery last winter. Now, they have five rotating taps with demand coming from local businesses, as well. Tunnel Vision's business doesn't seem to be affected by other local breweries.
"We are trying to do things our way but I think that people are starting to enjoy eating locally, I think it's true for beer, too," said Gaudreau.
"We don't really consider other breweries as competition. Everyone has to find their own niche, though. Something that we do differently than other breweries is we have a lot of 'farm beers.' We have some beers we use eggplant, beets, and radishes. Other breweries don't seem to be doing that."
While Tunnel Vision continues to grow and surpass their first year, other breweries are looking to enter the market in the area. Rudbeckia Winery and Brewery plans to open next summer in Petoskey and Stiggs Brewing Company plans to open around the same time in Boyne City.
"I'm originally from Charlevoix and wanted to return home," said Mike Castiglione, owner of Stiggs Brewing Company.
"I saw that their was already saturation in Traverse City, a few breweries in Petoskey, and one in Charlevoix. I chose Boyne City because there isn't one there yet," he said.
Stiggs Brewing Company plans to operate as a brewpub. This means that Castiglione will be able to brew beer on site while also being able to host other breweries beer and serve liquor.
"I plan on having 20 of my beers on tap and 10 other local breweries beer on tap. My goal is to stay with Michigan products only," said Castiglione.
Just as Castiglione has noticed, other breweries in the region believe that the area will start becoming saturated with breweries if more continue to pop up. There have been a few breweries that seem to make plans to open in the Petoskey area but most, if not all have fallen short of their intentions, according to Ben Slocum, owner of Beards Brewery in Petoskey.
"I knew of a couple breweries that wanted to open in Petoskey but they all have seemed to fizzle out. They don't really seem to advance any further than talking about the idea of it," he said.
"If they do keep coming it's going to get really crowded with the amount of breweries."
Something newer breweries will have to do is stand out to make a name for themselves and stay in the business.
"Michigan has a great beer scene so new breweries are going to have to stand up to what everyone is already doing," Slocum said.
Just because an area gets saturated doesn't mean that business will be bad, though.
"The more breweries there are, the more choice of beer there will be. It will also force places to make the best beer they can so they can stand out," said Slocum.
According to the Brewers Association, craft beer production in Michigan grew 41.5 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. This translates to 825,103 barrels of craft beer produced each year and a $1.8 million impact on Michigan's economy.
Michigan is home to more than 150 breweries and with more than 25 being in Grand Rapids and around 10 in Traverse City, Northern Michigan still has a while before they hit the same numbers.