As we roll into July, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is the month that we celebrate, not only our countries independence, but our rich culture of Michigan craft beer. Michigan stands at #5 if the country in number of Breweries (including brewpubs). We are “The Great Beer State,” and our legislature officially declared July to be Michigan Craft Beer Month. “How do I celebrate?” you may ask. It is easy, but first I have to point out that there is kind of an obvious answer to that question. So besides the obvious (drink Michigan Beer), you can check out your local beer bar. Any proud Michigan bar will be featuring a wide selection of Michigan-made brews. If you are in the Lansing area, you have plenty of choices. Crunchy’s, Reno’s, and Hopcat all feature great selections of Michigan Beers. Soup Spon Cafe is also one of my favorites, and there are so many more. If you would prefer something closer to the source, Eagle Monk and Bad Brewing Company are a couple of local area brewpubs. There are so many breweries here in Michigan that you can hardly throw a Stone in this state without hitting a source for Michigan Beer. For more information on Michigan Craft Beer Month, check out the release below
Beer and government, what’s the connection? We’ve all heard the media and lawmakers crying for small business owners to step up and create jobs. To create jobs you must make a product that the consumers want and oh boy do the consumers want craft beer. Craft beer is the fastest growing segment in alcohol sales in the United States and as so the breweries that make the beer are some of the fast growing small businesses.
During the mid-90’s regulations against small breweries were lifted and breweries started popping up throughout Michigan. Now we are entering two decades of brewing in our state and these 80+ small business owners and legislators are working together to further grow this industry. But it’s still young and the laws on the books are somewhat out of date and need tweaking to facilitate a climate that keeps this business steaming forward. We are also running into issues that we didn’t have before because these businesses didn’t exist.
Right now one entity can only own a certain number of breweries. Only have a minimal number of offshoot pubs. The tax bracket for brewpubs (don’t distribute) and microbreweries (do distribute) are different and can those tax amounts change to promote more growth. Also at what point does a microbrewery grow beyond its tax bracket?
Meeting with legislators in Lansing, the brewery owners found themselves being warmly welcomed by both the House of Representatives and Senate. With both honoring the industry by declaring the month of July “Michigan Craft Beer Month” for the fourth year in a row. This symbolizes the attention and admiration that our legislature has for these trailblazers and former home brewers turned dreamers turned businessmen and women.
Most of the breweries in Michigan are expanding in physical size, staffing and reach throughout the rest of the country. Creating more jobs in brewing beer, selling beer and giving the consumer an enjoyable and tasty way of supporting local Michigan made products. More restaurants are seeing the potential of serving Michigan made beer. Even seeing customers asking for Michigan beer. There are a few, and hopefully more on the way, restaurants that offer multiple Michigan beers on tap and/or in the bottle.
1 in 10 Michiganders work in the restaurant industry and this industry supports our tourism industry and a growing part of that tourism industry is… visiting our now over 80 different breweries. See the cycle? There are a rumored 20 more breweries to open in Michigan within the next year. Adding those breweries in might move Michigan from 5th in number of breweries per state to 3rd or 4th. With that growth comes jobs, comes more tourism, comes more tax revenue and a new industry that all Michiganders can stand behind and proud of.
With all of this growth there is still room to grow. In Michigan craft beer sales only make up around 2% of total beer sold, while in Oregon craft beer is at 28% and growing. So help your local and state economy, grab a Michigan brewed beer, visit www.michiganbrewersguild.org to find out where the breweries are and go on a brewery tour, and please every time you’re out having a beer ask “What Michigan beer do you have?”
June 2007 Lansing, MI House of Representatives State Capital building. That was when a great thing for Michigan’s growing beer industry happened. House Resolution No. 301 was introduced by State Representative Rebekah Warren of district 53 out of Ann Arbor. Resolution 301 declares the month of July to be Michigan Craft Beer Month. One of the best things the state government has ever done; honoring the independent business owners and the glorious beer that they make. This has become an annual event and now coincides with the Michigan Brewer’s Guild (MBG) legislative day.
MBG legislative day, June 2010; Rep. Warren again gets the honor to introduce Resolution 301. Even though it wasn’t announced until the very last moment of the House session, it was worth the wait. Not only did the House of Representatives make me happy to be a Michigander, but the Senate made the wise choice to present a concurrent resolution. Senate Resolution No. 164 is the first time that the Senate jumped on board. Continue reading →
UPDATE: OberON, you will still be able get bells in Lansing. More information can be found in our most recent episode here.
It’s only the 29th of January and this year is looking like an above average news worthy one. Early this morning it was leaked out that Bell’s Brewery Kalamazoo, MI will may no longer be sending beer to the Lansing based distribution company Nick&Nick Classic Wines. In a nutshell this means that what Classic Wines has in-stock is might become all the Bell’s beers that will be available; for a time that is as yet, undetermined. This decision was made by Larry Bell himself.
The current talks of a buy-out between Classic Wines and M&M Distributing (mid-Michigan’s Anheiser-Busch distribution house) have started a brush fire of rumors and speculations about what is going to happen with these brands that have been the bread and butter for Classic Wines (est. 1987). With the lions share of Michigan and other states top Micro-brews, Classic Wines’ business has grown right along with the Micro-brews that they have been offering for over 22 years. With the raise and fall of the craft beer industry’s many different players, Classic Wines has always stood strong and pushed forward in the land-locked middle of the great mitten shaped lower peninsula of Michigan. Sometimes this region of Michigan is over looked. We do have the state capitol, but no huge lake or distinctive culture. So growth in this market has been tough at best, but Classic has grown.
With Michigan beers themselves standing out as sought after beers for their command of brewing new variations of or classic styles, the over 70 breweries are finally getting attention on a national scale. Before Michigan could get this far in the beer world, it had to start somewhere. That start is Bell’s. At last look Bell’s ranks as the 26th largest brewery in the US, and though some may not admit it, Larry Bell is the father or uncle to Michigan’s brewing culture. Selling his first beer back in 1985 to now selling over 90,000 barrels per year. With this success comes hard times and tough choices. Larry and Bell’s Brewing have had many of both through out 24 years.
Just a few years back Bell’s pulled out of Chicago to avoid being in a distribution house that didn’t live up to expectations. This resulted in 2 years with out Bell’s beers. A new line of products were made to be sold under a different brewery name and labels. So even though “Bell’s” couldn’t be sold Larry found a way to sell them something. You can’t hold a smart man down, you can only underestimate him.
So now, Mr. Bell is handed yet another tough choice: sit idle and let his beer go to a distributor that he may not have faith in, or fight to maintain the right to put his beers (his passion, our refreshment) in the hands of someone who he knows will take care of Bell’s beers and name. The last choice may not make the average consumer happy. The greater Lansing area may not get any Bell’s product for sometime. Hoarding may happen, people that can’t make it through this will drive way out of their way to get the beers they love. Don’t forget, Larry may have started this beer revolution here in Michigan, but there are over 70 different others that have used his flame to light their own torches.