There are a great many things that we're proud of in this state. Whether it's our amassed collection of fresh water, our possession of two peninsulas or, heck, even our region's mitten shape, the distinctions that seem to boost us a head above our 49 fellow provinces are copious, allowing citizens to remark with great gratification, "I'm from Michigan!" But while we can't legitimately lay claim to these geographical superiorities we hold over other states as doings of our own, there is something we can be particularly prideful of which is truly a creation of our region's residents: Michigan Craft Beer.
As this annual issue of our weekly publication has demonstrated, we've got a great love for the barmy beverage and often lend it our time and esteem through not only written discourse, but also in the occasional – okay, fine, the usual – consumption of a brew or two.
But for Bobby Mason, craft beer isn't just something he's proud of. It's not something he partakes in as merely a flavorful addition to a great meal or even simply a Friday night constitutional. It's his life.
The owner and operator of Michigan Brewing Company begins his days at 5:30 a.m. mashing grain after which he preps his brewing system for brewers who come in later in the morning, following that he's doing books, checking numbers, working with distributors and answering retailer's questions.
"You kind of never know what's going on next," says Mason of his daily routine at his Webberville brewery. "It's a moving target. We're growing fast. We're up 100 percent from last year. We're double this year from what we did last year."
A fact any business owner would be proud of, Mason says he owes his ever-increasing business to a few factors, not the least of which being the production of Kid Rock's Badass Beer. Producing the beer's had "quite an effect on the brewery," he explains. The light American-style lager will be among MBC's offerings at this year's Summer Beer Festival and Mason says it's a great place for craft beer neophytes to start their tasting tour.
"If you're just a regular American light lager drinker ... try it because that's what that is, a light American lager. It's made from Michigan wheat. We use Michigan red wheat in all of our beers and that's a little bit of wheat beer in an American lager," explains Mason.
While the Badass brew has helped to increase Mason's operations – in the past year his staff has grown by about nine workers and he's currently assembling new tanks to expand the brewery – his Webberville location isn't the only sector of MBC that's getting bigger. He's also working to open a brewery in Fenton. The assemblage, already titled the Fenton Fire Hall Brewery, will make brews special to their location and bear the city's name on their labels. He plans to sells those brews exclusively at that location, but says if they become popular enough he'll bring them to the Webberville brewery and possibly distribute them.
Though the opening of yet another location (that makes three including his Lansing operation) might make this statement apparent, Mason says that even after 16 years in the business, he isn't planning on getting out any time soon. Instead of slowing down, he's constantly upgrading and changing, staying on top and ahead of the game.
In an industry that's growing by leaps and bounds, advancements are often something a business owner's obliged to do, but for Mason it also creates a distinction for his fellow Michigan brewers.
"We're doing stuff not too many people are doing," he explains. "Just to be different." | RDW
Sample some of MBC's savory selections at Summer Beer Festival 7/22 and 7/23. For more info visit michiganbrewing.com.