Thursday, July 26, 2012

Rockford Brewing Company: Sneak Preview!

While we get excited about news of any new Michigan brewery opening, the Michigan Beer Blog is especially excited about the work being done in Rockford. Between the location overlooking the Rogue River dam/waterfall in Rockford, the experience of the brewer, and the vision the owners are pursuing, it's a place with a lot of potential.
Downtown Rockford can compete with many of Michigan's coastal towns for picturesque tranquility. Just a few city blocks of tiny shops close to the Rogue river and the White Pine trail, Rockford brings the shopping fun of small tourist towns right up to the outdoor lifestyle. One of the cornerstones to the dining and entertainment experience of Rockford can be found right as the water rushes over the dam; Reds on the River is one of most renowned and decorated restaurants in west Michigan. . and the Rockford brewing company sits across the parking lot from Reds On the River, sharing the view.

We had a chance to speak with the owners of the Rockford Brewing Company, and view the building while in its current (as of July 2012) state of construction. The first floor has an open and rustic atmosphere; eventually this area will be finished in old style wood frames made of Michigan pine and curly maple. RBC plans to replant a new tree for every single one they use in construction: a truly honorable goal.

The system they are brewing on is not the largest kettle system in Michigan, but it doesn't need to be. RBC's beautiful and functional system, viewable from the first floor, will make beer focused on the community first. Similar to the philosophy behind the Crankers Brewery, the Rockford Brewing Company wants to be careful to treat its local community with respect. “After all,” notes Seth Rivard, “they're the reason why we're here.”

Upstairs will harbor more pine work, with an acoustically treated ceiling such that local music can be a centerpoint of the upstairs facility. RBC will offer a limited draft selection upstairs as well, letting those enjoying the view of the Rogue River, the music of a local band, or just the conversation of new friends continue their relaxation without going downstairs.

In a couple weeks, this will transform into a brewpub!

While it's too early to tell, owner/brewer Jeff Sheehan promised a healthy blend of rock solid, traditional mainstays as well as more original beverages. His pedigree includes the small batch system at the New Holland Brewing company, so if you recognize him it may be from there. He would often brew batches on that system right in downtown Holland while the place was open, leading some people to wonder if he was an actor!

Jeff Sheehan and Seth Rivard
 With the Michigan beer industry booming, the lack of a local pub serving beverages brewed on site in Rockford was getting pretty obvious. The Rockford Brewing company solved that dilemma, and I'm sure I'm not alone in my excitement for their opening day.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Michigan Brewers Guild Celebrates 15 Years With Annual Summer Beer Festival, “15th Anniversary Ale” Collaborative Brew, and Craft Beer Month Designation


July, 2012 is a big month for craft brewers in the Great Beer State as the Michigan Brewers Guild celebrates its 15th anniversary with its annual Summer Beer Festival, the release of a “15th Anniversary Ale” Collaborative Brew, and the official designation of Michigan Craft Beer Month. 

The Proclamation

Earlier this month, Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced Senate Resolution No. 160 while 18 Michigan Representatives including Representative Peter MacGregor (R-Rockford) introduced House Resolution No. 102, both of which declare July as Craft Beer Month in the state of Michigan. Details of the joint resolutions are attached.

“It is always an honor to be able to recognize thriving, Michigan based businesses,” said Rep. MacGregor (R-Rockford). “It should be the role of government to get out of their way and support them when we can.  My resolution to recognize July as ‘Craft Beer Month’ was a small ‘pat on the back’ to a successful and growing industry of our state.”

“With summer upon us and Grand Rapids claiming the title of ‘Beer City USA,’ it is the perfect time to celebrate Craft Beer Month in Michigan,” said Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor). “We are excited about the opportunity to tout the benefits to our statewide tourism efforts and the investment in our local economy that craft beer represents.”

The Collaborative Brew

The 15th Anniversary Ale is a strong Pale Ale – more like a strong IPA or a Double IPA, coming in with an 8% ABV with 80 IBUs. These brews will be available at participating member breweries, as well as at the Summer Beer Festival.

“When you buy Michigan beer you are supporting local businesses and you are helping to provide local jobs,” says Eric Briggeman, Guild President. “And, with this 15th Anniversary Brew, we are also helping Michigan’s agriculture industry because we are asking brewers to use wheat that is grown and malted in Michigan, as well as Michigan-grown hops.”

The Festival

The 15th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival will be held July 27-28 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town District. More than 60 Michigan craft breweries will showcase 450-plus craft beers at the two-day festival, which runs from 5-9pm on Friday, July 27 and 1-6pm on Saturday, July 28.

Admission tickets are $30 for Friday (in advance - $35 at the gate, if any are available) and $35 for Saturday (in advance - $40 at the gate, if any are available. Each admission ticket includes 15 drink tokens, each redeemable for a 3-ounce sample. Additional drink tokens are available for 50 cents each. Advanced tickets for the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival may be purchased online at, at participating member breweries and limited retail locations around the state. Attendees must be 21 or older to attend. Designated driver tickets are available online and at the gate for $5 each.

This year’s entertainment lineup includes: DJ Rob Ericksen, Stone Clover, L'aith Al Saadi, and Jason Dennie on Friday the 27th and DJ Danny Boy Peron, Jason Waggoner Band, and Amy Gore & Her Valentine on Saturday the 28th.

The Guild

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes well over $24 million in wages with a economic contribution well over $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

Founded in 1997 and celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2012, the Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry. By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, the organization strives to achieve 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption.


1997 – Creation of Michigan Brewers Guild
1998 – Inaugural Summer Beer Festival – July (Greenmead, Livonia)
2000 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates (Frog Island, Ypsilanti)
2004 – Summer Beer Festival Relocates & Expands to 2 Days (Riverside Park, Ypsilanti)
2005 – Inaugural Winter Beer Festival – February (Old Town, Lansing)
2007 – Winter Beer Festival Moves to Grand Rapids (Fifth-Third Ballpark, Comstock Park)
2008 – Inaugural UP Fall Beer Festival – September (Mattson Lower Harbor Park, Marquette)
2008 – Inaugural Detroit Fall Beer Festival – October (Eastern Market, Detroit)

For more information, including a list of Michigan craft breweries, log on to  (  |

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