WEST MICHIGAN — A crowded bar with plenty beer a-flowin’.
It’s Monday around noon.
“In our line of work, we’re getting a little more used to it,” Jason Reicherts of Bell’s Brewing in Kalamazoo says.
Monday was Oberon Day in West Michigan – the day the new batch of Bell’s traditional summer ale flows out to the masses. It’s usually a sign that warmer months are ahead, but it’s becoming more and more of a reminder that craft beer is growing each and every day.
“I think people get a little tired of the cookie cutter,” Reicherts says. “They want to get out and try new things.”
Brendan Gary with Kent Beverage has seen the growth of the genre.
“The national statistic is that craft beer is up about 15%,” he says, “and I’m happy to report that Michigan is up almost 30%.”
“We’re really seeing tremendous growth from a couple of the mainstays that have been around for a long time, but we’re seeing a lot of brewers pop up in towns.”
Like the Mitten Brewing Company at 573 Leonard Street in Grand Rapids. The owners let FOX 17 in the doors in October, just before their opening.
“It’s been a dream of ours to do something along these lines,” owner Max Trierweiler said in October. “Five years ago, we actually went out and started home-brewing with the intent of opening a place like this.”
“There are a lot of new brewers opening,” Gary says. What you’re gonna see is that there’s going to be a challenge, a real fight for shelf space for tap handles in Grand Rapids bars.”
“With the level of ingredients these days,” Reicherts adds, “certainly anything’s possible for these guys to open up and make great beer.”
And the competition is more than welcome.
“Absolutely,” Reicherts says.
“We’re all brothers in this business.”