|Farm + Ferment principals Mike Collins and Mike Messink toast their new business arrangement with Arbor's Rene and Matt Greff.|
Note: This article was originally published May 11 in Current magazine under the headline "Former Owners Speak on Sale of North American Portion of Arbor Brewing."
It’s been a staple on downtown Ann Arbor’s Washington Street for more than two decades, and now the Arbor Brewing Co. Brewpub – along with its sister establishment, Ypsilanti’s Arbor Brewing Co. Microbrewery – is entering a new chapter in its business evolution.
Owners Matt and Rene Greff announced on Thursday that Arbor has become a part of Farm + Ferment, a family of Michigan-based businesses focused on craft beer, cider, and wine making. The new partnership sees the Greffs relinquishing ownership over the day-to-day operation of the businesses, but retaining the North American rights to the Arbor brand.
“Matt and I are shifting from more of an operations focus to a brand promotion focus,” said Rene. “So basically someone else gets to do the unpleasant stuff and we get to have all the fun.”
Included under the Farm + Ferment umbrella are several Michigan orchards, vineyards, and hop farms, including Northport Farms, Baia Estate Vineyard, and the Michigan Hop Alliance, a network of hop growers that joined in 2016.
“Farm + Ferment is a new umbrella company that will focus on brewing, cider, and wine making,” said Brian Tennis, founder of Michigan Hop Alliance. “My role will be to focus on our hop operations, overseeing our hop yards, brokering hops both foreign and domestically, and working closely with our network of over 600 breweries around North America and Europe. I’m excited to work with everyone at Arbor and will be providing the brewery with the best hops available, with a strong focus on Michigan-grown ingredients.”
“What’s awesome is we get to be involved in all aspects of brand growth, working with Brian on hop selection, growing the sour beer program, and other things like that because we’re no longer involved in the minutiae of management,” said Matt.