Breweries Boom in West MI

Posted at 7:13 PM, Dec 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-20 22:47:27-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. –A new local brewery opened its doors in our West Michigan.

Today, The Rockford Brewing Company joined the list of craft beers producers, which offers an alternative to domestic brands.

“We have had quite a journey to arrive where we are today,” co-founder Jeff Sheehan said.

“2011 was all searching for real estate and gathering financing and 2012, this entire year was spent doing construction,” Sheehan said.

That’s two brewing companies in just over two weeks that have opened up shop in our West Michigan. The other is the Grand Rapids Brewing Company, located downtown.

Sheehan said much of what makes up the interior of his business was made with “local” in mind. From local contractors to a bird’s eye view of the Rockford dam.

“Tried to create a warm, cozy, pub, feel, and the upstairs is a little more open, big windows and more of a cafe type environment,” he explained.

Sheehan and his two business partners took their passion to new heights, becoming entrepreneurs in an industry that already appears vibrant in our West Michigan – craft beer production.

“I think that there is already a culture of ‘local’ and whether it’s food or wine or beer, people are looking for what’s local. They want to support their neighbors,” Sheehan said.

“It’s a good time to be a part of our industry in West Michigan. Craft beer is blowing up all around us and people like the different flavors. They like to see what’s available and try new things,” he said.

“Michigan is looked up as one of the top three producing states in the country,” Mike Stevens, co-founder of Founder’s Brewing Company said.

The Downtown Grand Rapids brewery celebrated its 15th anniversary this year and just announced a 26 million dollar expansion project.

Stevens credits Bell’s Brewery in Galesburg as one of the companies that paved the way for brewing’s popularity in the state.

“When you set a standard that high – when we started – we realized we got to make a product at least as good as that, if not better,” Stevens said.

“There’s a lot of beer enthusiasts out there in this country and what Michigan does I don’t think you really find in a lot of states. I mean we’re a pretty mature, well-developed brewing state,” he explained.

He added, “We have over a hundred breweries in this state and some of these breweries are among the top 10 in the country. So it’s really become a mecca for beer enthusiasts.”