MBC: *Really* Rocking Now!
Michigan Brewing Company took a huge step up last year.
Bobby Mason, the owner, had long been mentioning his plan to buy the huge factory building behind his medium-size polebarn. And last year he finally did it.
I've posted about MBC here before. And MBC has been a longtime advertiser with OYB. They're what we're all about! Local quality, local hands-on action...plus local culture! ...Reaching out to bigger scenes. ...And including a wide range in that reach.
And Bobby hasn't slowed down one bit in this mission!
MBC is the archtypal mid-Michigan local biz: it's situated behind a gas station next to a freeway exit (the Webberville/M52 exit off of I-96, to be exact).
...All the bikers know where it is.
...And the cyclists are catching on, too!
There seem to be a couple weekly rides that leave from this HQ. Clever thinking, I think!
So now MBC is housed in a building that's like 100 yards long on each side and maybe 50 feet tall.
A *lot* can go down here.
And a lot does!
Why, they started a big 5k run from INSIDE the building this summer!
Bobby had so much fun hosting this event, and the turnout was so much bigger than he thought, that he upped his own ante twice on the giveaways after the run. I think everyone went home with a 6-pack or two.
They also host music events. And a big annual beer fest---where many other microbrews, such as Short's from up north, I noticed, are invited to show and sample-out their wares in a convivial, colleagueal attitude.
But Bobby doesn't stop there. Of course there's an expanded bar and restaurant at this new facility.
And I see that he has Zingerman's breads on display. Yes, the manager told me, Bobby wants to tie in and uplift all the high-quality local businesses that he can. And so the only local family-run butcher shop, Merindorf's, is also prominently displayed (too bad that by state law they can't do their own butchering anymore and have to job it out but they still have their own cows and do everything else, as they have for decades). Wherever a wholesome, obvious tie-in is possible, it looks like Bobby goes for it.
Why, I remember when Bobby was just learning how to brew. He and I both hung out around Fred's brewshop. ---Which is still attached to MBC.
I took a stroll around the big new place with some biker friends the last time I was out there. Wow!
OK, the beer side is growing great guns. Check.
Bobby always mentioned getting a winery going. I asked about this. The retail manager giving us the tour pointed out a big square of paint striping off an area that had "winery" painted next to it. He said they were just getting rolling on it. Then we saw, hey, that there were some racks already set up in the area and that several buckets were already bubbling away. Hey, the guy said, it looks like they've started!
I'd also heard another big-deal news item and asked about it. Sure enough, MBC is now a DISTILLERY.
A couple years ago MSU busted open the organized crime (state run) distilling scene in Michigan and got a law changed to allow more of it. Vineyards are booming now in Michigan and distilling is an extra revenue stream. Both developments were spearheaded by MSU and are a big shot in the arm for the collapsed economy of our state. MSU then disbanded its on-campus wine/distilling education operations. Smart! Who knows. But I've heard that they have to set a "just say no" example to the kids, right? HUH? MSU is one of the drunkest campuses in the nation BECAUSE of our local head-in-sand attitude to booze and to the reasons why young and old people alike so easily fall into the despair that provokes self-abusive boozing. Education, knowledge and research are obviously the only hopes. The bureaucratic/legalistic response: close up! I've also heard that the uni-prez has the view that ag isn't the future or where the big bux are, so that the roots of the school are now being downplayed and downsized. Could these things be so? Hope not!
Anyway, all the great talent and equipment that MSU developed and imported in from Germany (in the way of copper distilling apparatus) was shipped over to MBC! And now MBC runs the cutting edge of distilling education in our state! It hosts a fully equipped lab and classroom space, used by grad students and jobs-fund candidates alike.
Look out, Kentucky!
Actually, the manager said that gin, vodka and ABSINTHE are first on the docket. Maybe these are easiest to make? But no one is forgetting bourbon. And I thought I heard scotch mentioned.
As we strolled along through the towers and racks of stuff, we came to another classroom set up in the vast space. Biodiesel! Bobby wants MBC to run off its own fuel. They're converting the refuse from brewing into biodiesel! ...And they've set up a research facility for it as well. Students are here, too. I saw a big array of desks and bunsen burners.
Around another corner we came across a party pit. Our guide said that another brewery rents some space from them and has set up a big command post-like tent arrangement that they use for pow-wow's. I saw camo-netting and pinball machines...
So it looks like A WHOLE LOT of DIY-style action is going down at MBC!
(Tip: Beer-lovers probably know to go for the hoppy IPA---that's the ticket! But if you like a room-temp super-rich Belgian, try a Celis Grand Cru!)