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What’s Brewing

New Beer
2021 to bring new craft breweries to region

The greater Kalamazoo area is going to have three more craft brewery choices in the next few months, in locations ranging from Mattawan to Plainwell to downtown Kalamazoo.

Mattawan to get its first brewery

After nearly six years of planning and a pandemic, the four friends behind Murray Street Brewing Co. can see the light at the end of the pint glass.

Dan Howard, Tim Ginter and couple Peter Hathaway and Amanda Chadderdon, who came up with the idea of opening a brewery six years ago, are within months of opening Mattawan’s first brewery, in one of the village’s oldest buildings, at 57620 Murray St. The building was formerly known as The Livery and housed an antiques and collectibles shop.

The four friends settled on Mattawan because of the absence of a brewery there and because of Mattawan’s proximity to Kalamazoo. The appeal of locating their brewery in an old livery stable, built in 1868, put their vision in motion. The ownership team closed on the building in September 2019 and started moving forward with the project. “And then the pandemic happened,” says Howard. Construction work stopped in March and resumed in June.

“Once July came, we hit the ground running again,” says Howard, who handles the brewery’s financials and has a background in real estate. “Our problem as a new brewery is learning which shoe hits first and the order in which to attack things. The village has been incredibly helpful.

“It’s been tedious, and COVID made it tough, but we were able to stick through. People want to see it succeed here, and that’s been encouraging.”

Murray Street Brewing Co. will house a five-barrel system from the Greenville-based Psycho Brews. The system was originally bound for a Texas brewery, but when that project folded, Ginter, Murray Street’s brewer, was able to secure it. The building also features an office space, a walk-in cooler, an eventual kitchen space and a second-story area that the owners plan to convert into a private event room. The taproom is expected to accommodate between 40 and 50 people.

“We fully anticipate that a lot of locals who come here may not have walked into a craft brewery before, so we want to make them feel at home,” Howard says. “On the flip side, we are hoping to have enough lines open where we can do some very small-batch experimental things you have to come out and try.”

Ginter comes to Murray Street after starting his beer work at the Bell’s General Store. One of his customers there, Scott Zylstra, is the proprietor of Plainwell’s Old Mill Brewpub and hired Ginter to work there.

Ginter later joined the brewing team at Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co. in downtown Kalamazoo, brewing there until shortly after Saugatuck Brewing Co. announced its merger with Gonzo’s in March 2019.

Ginter and Howard hope to have their brewery license application approved this winter, and Ginter anticipates the brewery opening seven to nine weeks after that. Depending on the severity of the pandemic at the time, Murray Street may serve to-go beer only at the start and begin taproom service when it’s safe enough to do so.

“We want to make approachable beers that everyone will enjoy,” Ginter says. “At the same time, I want to make those New England-style IPAs, kettle sours and barrel-aged stouts. I have a number of recipes I’d like to open with.”

Brewer inching toward Plainwell

Longtime Kalamazoo brewer Adam Wisniewski has found a home for his brewery-in-the-works, Deep End Brewing Co.

Wisniewski, who has been the lead brewer at Wax Wings Brewing Co., 3480 Gull Road, for more than a year and brewed for five years at Rupert’s Brewhouse, says he will be taking over the former Energy Mill building at 712 Bridge St. in Plainwell, pending the city’s approval of his site plan. His business partner is Tim Woodhams. Deep End is already licensed by the state as a tenant brewer at One Well Brewing’s production facility in Kalamazoo and will be transferring the license to the Plainwell location.

Wisniewski has purchased a seven-barrel system from the former Big Buck Brewery’s Grand Rapids location and will be focused on building out his new brewery for initial to-go beer sales, ideally by spring.

Depending on how the pandemic landscape looks, the taproom could be ready by late summer.

“I’m going to be focusing on a lot more wild sours and wood aging — a lot of farmhouse stuff, wild fermentation and spontaneous fermentation,” says Wisniewski. “That’s what I’ve always been most passionate about in brewing.”

Rupert’s to return to Kalamazoo

Mark Rupert, owner of the now-closed Rupert’s Brewhouse, is in the early stages of returning to downtown Kalamazoo.

Rupert, 42, closed his brewery at 773 W. Michigan Ave. in September 2019, after six years in business. Rupert and his parents planned to reopen the brewery in Sturgis, but construction delays and the onset of the pandemic changed their direction. Rupert says he’s worked for Mark Wrench, president of the Fireplace & Grill Shoppe and SignWriter, both on West Michigan Avenue, for nearly 30 years. During the pandemic, he returned to work at SignWriter, and that is where he is currently clearing out an empty space in the back of the building with the intention of opening a brewery. He hopes to produce popular Rupert’s Brewhouse beers there by mid-2021, mostly on a to-go basis.

“The intention is to do simple manufacturing and bring back some of our beers,” he says, “and then create a place where other people can brew as well.”

John Liberty

John Liberty began his professional career as a journalist, but now he’s “a craft beer ambassador” and says the two vocations aren’t really so far apart. Liberty, a former Kalamazoo Gazette entertainment writer, and Aric Faber created West Michigan Beer Tours in 2013 to allow people to experience the area’s growing craft beer industry.

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