Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coming Soon: Tecumseh Brewing Co.

Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery bartender Kyle DeWitt and head brewer Tim Schmidt are seeking investors for their Tecumseh Brewing Co., to open later this year.

I recently sat down with Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery bartender Kyle DeWitt who, with head brewer Tim Schmidt, is working on a plan to open a new brewery in downtown Tecumseh, where both have roots. The brewery will be the only one in the town of about 8,500, which is 25 miles southwest of Ann Arbor in Lenawee County. We talked brewery crowdfunding, beer, and more.

You've said the Tecumseh Brewing Co. is the first startup to take advantage of a recent change in Michigan law that allows for "crowdfunding," aka community investment, something that only four or five states currently allow. How is your crowdfunding platform, Localstake.com, different from, say, Kickstarter.com?

Localstake is more like an E-Trade or Scottrade, but instead of stocks it's for local investing. And we are talking investment, not donations, so it's immediately different from Kickstarter that way. Instead of getting a hat or a shirt for your donation, you get a return on your investment. There are different ways to structure that, but the way we've set it up is we're doing revenue sharing. So 7% of our sales every month will get distributed to all the investors who signed up through Localstake until each one of them makes one-and-a-half times their investment. So if we crush it, in two years they'll be paid back; if it's more conservative like we're estimating, it may be more like five years.

Included in each investment is a Mug Club membership, because we're obviously targeting more toward people in the local area, but crowdfunding is open to anyone in the state. We've had six investors so far [editor's note: as of April 4], and five of them are people we don't even know. So we believe this thing can work, but it's so new a lot of people don't quite understand it yet. The biggest thing we want to emphasize is it's not a donation. You're investing in a brewery and you'll make your money back and then some, really fast.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The (Very) Short Pour: KBS On Tap

 A quick public service announcement.

Earlier this week I reported via the Twitters that the Alley Bar in Ann Arbor would be tapping the ridiculously sought-after Founders KBS Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout tonight (Thursday). It's confirmed, via Facebook, that this is happening at 9 p.m.

In case you miss out or can't make it, then you may want to amble down to Bar Louie, 401 E. Liberty, Monday night at 7 p.m., when they will be tapping their keg of KBS. They'll also have a number of other Founders beers available as well, though the tap list as of now is unknown.

That is all.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Whither Beer Journalism?

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,” G.K. Chesterton famously wrote in defense of hobbyists and amateurs. He wasn’t talking about beer writing, but “badly” does describe how a lot of the contributions to this relatively new and growing field are being done these days.

For years I’ve been saying to anyone sober enough to listen that one of my aims was to help make modern beer writing live up to the quality of all the great beers actually being brewed. That’s still what I try to do, but part of me also thinks the easily accessible arena of beer writing is actually part of its charm.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Every Two Weeks in Beer: Skip the Clichés and Go for the Brew


It’s April, and I’m fresh out of clichés about warm weather, new life and new beginnings, spring cleaning, college basketball, taxes, and, oh yeah, beer. But despite my lazy — I mean ironic and “meta” — effort here, there is nevertheless a solid schedule of good fun and delicious brew to partake of as spring advances. Here we go.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Big News from Liberty Street Brewing

Big news from the big guy.

There's some big news out of Plymouth's Liberty Street Brewing today — and it's no joke. Owner/brewer Joe Walters emails:
[We are announcing] our new production facility in Livonia, on Levan at Plymouth Rd. We plan to name it Liberty Street Brewery, and it will have a brand new 15 barrel brewery with 30 and 60 barrel tanks. LSBC will remain in the Plymouth brewery, which will gradually take on a new responsibility and character because the main 6 (and 2-3 seasonal) beers will now be brewed in Livonia. The Plymouth brewery will now be brewing specialty beer exclusively, including a nitro version of Starkweather Stout and barrel aged styles for our newly expanded cellar. This will also allow multiple batches of specialty brands for distribution and even bottling. Very exciting indeed!
And tapping today at the pub is Territorial Baltic Porter, a collaboration with Witch's Hat Brewing, which is also tapping it today. Enjoy this brew made with molasses and cacao nibs now, then try it again in the fall when a barrel-aged version will be released.

For all the latest and greatest Liberty Street news, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Update: Here's where lots of beer will soon be made:

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Short Pour Seeks Saison

Saison X, first in a small-batch series of saisons, is on tap now at Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor. Image source: jollypumpkina2 on Instagram.

More beer news you can use.

  • No pizza for you! You knew it was coming. Starting June 1, the Wolverine taproom is off-limits for outside food. No more ordering pizzas or Chinese from other restaurants. But that's OK because, unless you've been living in a cave, you know that Wolverine now has a kitchen that is turning out some truly delicious eats to go with all that awesome beer. And soon they'll be adding a kids' menu so your rugrats have something to occupy them while you're busy being a terrible role model.
  • Let the sun shine in. Bell's Oberon vs. Arcadia Whitsun? Find out which Michigan summer seasonal is your favorite tomorrow at the Produce Station during Free Beer Friday from 5-6:30 p.m. And check out the great beers coming in via the Produce Station weekly beer update.
  • Feeling a little Territorial? On April 1, both Liberty Street and Witch's Hat are tapping Territorial Baltic Porter, a collaboration brew they made with molasses and cacao nibs. According to Liberty's Joe Walters, "the name is derived from the main road that we take when traveling between our breweries [North Territorial], as well as the characteristic of a certain group of shared 'regulars' that frequent each establishment." In the fall, look for a barrel-aged version.
  • Randall is my homeboy. Also on April 1 Ashley's is taking their new Randall the Enamel Animal out for a spin. At 6 p.m., Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA will flow throw a nice bed of fresh hops (variety TBD) for an extra punch. And in case you didn't know, both Sidetrack and Red Rock in Ypsi have Randalls now, too.
  • A Series of Saisons. Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor recently tapped Saison X, a refreshing brew with citrus and ginger notes. It's the first in a small-batch series that also includes Saison Y,   brewed with juniper and peppercorns, and Saison Z,  brewed with raw honey, cacao, and sweet orange peel. Also coming soon: the much-anticipated (by me, certainly) Biere de Mars, as well as Ale Absurd Rye Trippel, which we've not seen in a while. Welcome back, delicious friend!
  • New lawz. Finally the politicians did something relatively useful by loosening some restrictions on small brewers and retailers. The media version of what Gov. Toughnerd signed into law Tuesday is here, and a bit more detail can be found on the state's website.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Let Your Voice Be Heard, Dammit

New Orleans + Beer + Me. Help make it happen!

It's the last week of voting in the "Best Beer Writing" contest, sponsored by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the organizers of the Beer Bloggers Conference. This raises an obvious question: Have you done your part to help send your favorite beer writer to the annual NBWA conference in New Orleans this fall?

My entry, "Signs Point to Continued Growth in the U.S. Beer Market -- and in Beer Writing," is one of five in the running. I'm sure the authors of the other four pieces are perfectly lovely human beings fully deserving of having nice things like a free trip to their favorite city, but let's be honest here: They're not me.

Now, I don't ask much of my readers. I don't beg for validating comments. I don't hit you up for money. I don't rape your eyeballs with goofy ads about "weird tricks" and home refinancing. But just this once, I am willing to throw dignity to the wind and snivel like a small child to solicit your vote. Won't you be a pal and click this link to cast a ballot for yours truly?

Do it for me. Do it for yourself. Do it for America. And because if you don't I just might have to re-consider that no eyeball-raping policy.