Petoskey is the latest to contribute to Michigan’s growing reputation as “The Great Beer State.” Just six weeks ago Beards Brewery opened on Howard Street in downtown. Later this week, a new venture, Petoskey Brewing, is expected to open in the Old Brewing Building on M-119 (around the corner from La Senorita).
When Peter Manthei and Ben Slocum envisioned opening a brewery in downtown Petoskey they wanted to start out small and see where it would take them. Their dreams were realized in early August when they opened their nano-brewery.
“We have a one-barrel system, so can kick out a few kegs at a time,” said Ben Slocum. “So on Monday and Tuesday we brew triple batches of our tried and true recipes and on Wednesday we do more of our experimental stuff and test batches.”
Manthei and Slocum were both born and raised in Petoskey and after high school the two took off for college. After graduating, they decided to return home and open a brewery.
“We really felt Petoskey could use a microbrewery and since we were both young, we felt if there was ever a time in life to take a big chance this was it,” said Slocum.
As with many craftbrew operations the concept for Beards Brewery was born out of homebrewing.
“We homebrewed together at Peter’s house for the past couple of years. I have worked in area restaurants for the past 10 years and Peter has been a baker in the community, so we both have been working with flavor profiles and recipes for awhile,” said Slocum.
“When we started brewing we were making five gallons a week and our friends loved it, so we went to 10 gallons a week. Pretty much by the time we finished a batch it was gone and the reviews were fantastic, so it pushed us towards this industry.”
Both Manthei and Slocum felt that starting out small was the way to go when they opened their doors.
“We are young, so getting big investments for a large brewery was out of the question for us,” said Slocum. “It also made sense to us that by having a small brewery it would give us the opportunity to play more with the beers, get ourselves established, and not have a huge overhead. Our goal is to do it really well and grow over time.”
The partners also have a vision of being community-based.
“Our whole business model is ‘community.’ We use ingredients from local companies, chocolate from Kilwin’s, coffee from Roast & Toast; our spent grains go to local farmers for feed,” said Slocum. “Our atmosphere inside the brewery is very conversation focused. We don’t have TVs so people are interacting with each other. We have lots of board games.”
Besides a few snacks, Beards brewery doesn’t offer food. Instead, they allow patrons to bring or order in food.
“We have a BYOF policy. Our focus is on our beer. So we let people bring in their own items to eat, order in pizzas or sandwiches, and have them delivered,” said Slocum. “That again goes to our community-first philosophy. It just didn’t make sense to us to bring another restaurant to town when we have so many great ones already.”
In just six weeks of being open Beards has already brewed 35 different beers and has established a few signature brews.
“Some of the items we brew sells so fast that we try to brew more of the same quickly,” said Slocum. “Our Serendipity Porter has been very popular, it has a medium body, hint of sweetness, low carbonation, and is popular with a lot of people who traditionally don’t like dark beers. Our Nut Brown Ale is also popular, as is our Victoria’s Pale Ale.”
Beard’s is open Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 5 to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 pm. They offer 12 and 20 ounce drafts, have growlers and plan to have flights available soon.
They also are open to those under 21. “We offer Northwoods Soda’s for our patrons not of age and also for designated drivers and those who choose not to drink beer. We want to have an inviting environment for all people,” said Slocum. “A lot of places don’t allow under 21 and so the 18 to mid-20s who co-mingle don’t have a place to hang most of the time. So we are that place.”
THE BEARD THING
Both partners have beards, hence the name, but they are not requiring beards of all their staff.
“Our girlfriends are helping us out so no, but we both sport beards,” said Slocum. “It is part of the mystique that brewers have. There are a lot of jokes out there as to why almost all brewers have beards. Like, ‘there is time to shave or time to brew.’ Or ‘there is money that can be spent on razors or more grain.’ So it made sense for us to choose this name in honor of all brewers.”
As for the competition, it is expected to open later this week.
“We don’t see it as competition, we see it as very cool for our community that we both are here,” said Slocum. “Their head brewer has been in to see us several times and he has been very supportive. Plus he has a lot more experience in the industry than we do.”
Beard’s Brewery is located at 207A Howard Street in Petoskey. They have lots of info on their Facebook page and their website beardsbrewey.com.