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My job is getting a lot harder. Craft beer is booming and space is limited, but when I heard that Greenbush Brewing from Sawyer, Michigan was going to be available for retail, I made space. This past summer, I took advantage of Lockhart’s $3 craft beer Wednesdays and found my favorite new beer: Dungras IPA. It was balanced, with a nice showing of Cascade and Columbus hops for the citrusy grapefruit notes and cutgrass smells of summer that I desire in both IPA and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Also, it was medium-bodied but refreshing, with a hint of bitterness that makes it great for patio picnics.
I knew I was hooked, and each time I went out, I was on the hunt for more. I am always looking for new and interesting beers, and surprisingly, my hunt had become quite easy. Despite the fact that before this summer I had never heard of Greenbush, it seemed that it was on the list at all of my favorite beer bars, in some way or another. I have since tried the Closure Pale Ale and the Red Bud Wheat Ale. However, when I found out I was pregnant, my monetary output and alcoholic input were put on hold.
Greenbush became available in bottles late last February, and I couldn’t wait to share it with our customers! I had chatted, tweeted, and endorsed finding it on draft, and now my customers could try it for themselves.
Like most great craft beer companies, the story starts with a homebrew kit. The founder and head brewer of Greenbush, Scott Sullivan, was on hold from his woodworking job. Through a little mix of boredom and fate, he found himself dusting off his friend’s old homebrew kit. He started out simply trying to make good beer that he and his friends wanted to drink, and after some mishaps and miscalculations, his first beer, Distorter, was born. It features roasted malt, chocolate and a kick of alcohol. Sullivan liked it and began showing it around to his beer geek friends. He was not alone. Winning blind tastings against many other celebrated Porters gave Sullivan the initiative to go into business.
Though Distorter was trying to be a Porter but leaned stout, the rich flavors and balance between sweet and bitter makes it the company’s best seller and most acclaimed beer. Distorter became a sort of model for the company, which wasn’t trying to meet guidelines for what its beers should or should not be. Instead, the company was just making something it liked and hoped everyone else would too.
In 2011, Greenbush opened its doors. Now not only acclaimed for its terrific lineup of beers, its menu has people from the tri-state area coming back again and again. Though it has 8 year-round brews, 9 seasonal, and 6 specialties, these beers are going to be in and out of circulation due to high demand and short supply. While Michigan is Greenbush’s home, it is already well-established in Illinois and Indiana. As the news of these beers grows, the team at Greenbush is expanding to keep up. When the brewery opened last year, it had a 2,000 barrel-per-year capacity and has since ramped that up to 7,000. This is an amazing feat for a little brewery that started full production just a little over a year ago. I feel that this is in part due to the team over at Greenbush having its finger on the pulse of social media with a facebook page; an endearing, educational, and up-to-date blog; and a Twitter handle.
At Nino’s, we always have a minimum of four varieties of Greenbush 6 packs and at least one specialty. This week’s is Brother Benjamin Imperial IPA. The most popular have been Dungras IPA, Closure Pale Ale, Anger Black IPA, and Distorter Porter, the one that started it all. Don’t get discouraged if your favorite is not available. Please try something new; you won’t regret it.
Have you tried any of Greenbush’s beers or visited the brewery? Please leave a comment about your experience or tweet me at @NinosWineExpert!