Churchkey Farms | A MILE-high salute for Tecumseh Brewing Co.
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A MILE-high salute for Tecumseh Brewing Co.

16 Jun A MILE-high salute for Tecumseh Brewing Co.

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Published: Thursday, 3/26/2015 – Updated: 2 months ago

PEACH WEEKENDER | RAISE A GLASS

BY BOB CUNNINGHAM
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Front entrance for Tecumseh Brewing Co. in Tecumseh, MI.
BLADE PHOTO BY BOB CUNNINGHAM Enlarge
TECUMSEH, Mich. — When the doors to Tecumseh Brewing Co. open in mid-April there likely will be more than a fair share of toasts in honor of the MILE Act.

The Michigan Invests Locally Exemption made it possible in December, 2013, for locally owned businesses to raise capital from residential investors by using websites and social media.

Tecumseh Brewing Co., 128 W. Chicago Blvd., was the first business in the state to complete an offering using the crowdfunding law, enabling co-founders Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt to realize their dream of opening a craft beer brewpub.

“We definitely have the support of the locals,” said DeWitt, who has worked in the craft beer bar industry for about 15 years with stints at Frankenmuth (Mich.) Brewery and Lodi (Calif.) Beer Co. “We launched our crowdfunding campaign in March [2014] and within 45 days of a 90-day window we maxed out our fund-raise at $175,000. That worked out really well” and helped get a bank loan for the rest of the financing by early summer.

Since then Dewitt and Schmidt, an award-winning brewer at Ann Arbor’s Grizzly Peak and Blue Tractor breweries, have been working hard to prepare the former Cowboys Bar for its long-awaited debut.

The cozy Lenawee County pub has a coffeehouse feel with tan brick walls and a gorgeous wooden bar. Despite the tight quarters, somehow there’s enough room to play darts and, perhaps, pool. There’s also a fair-sized beer garden in the back, where customers can play cornhole.

Dewitt said the initial plan is to feature 16 beers because it best fits the pub’s setup. But as far as what styles of beer, there’s “no set anything.”

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At the opening, the pub will have an American stout, a pale ale, an extra strong bitter (ESB), an India dark ale, a Scotch ale, a Hefeweizen, and a blonde ale.

“We will have another nine unique brews prior to opening and the list will always be different,” DeWitt said. “We likely will have approximately four hoppy options and a mix of different styles. Most will be three-barrel batches but we will also make some small batches of unique and experimental brews.”

The brewery’s electric three-barrel brewing system barely fits in a room beyond the kitchen.

“It took a couple weeks to get the system down, especially with the tight space,” DeWitt said. “You have to have two people clearly speaking the same language or otherwise it’s going to be too tight. As it is right now, it only needs to be a one-man operation with a three-barrel.”

The brewery has a long-term goal of using solar power and wants to use as many local vendors as possible, from the food menu to brewing ingredients.

DeWitt and Schmidt are working with Matt McFarland, owner of ChurchKey Farms in nearby Deerfield. McFarland grows and sells hops to craft brewers.

“[McFarland’s] awesome, man,” DeWitt said. “He’s got four acres of hops now and will have 12 by the end of the year. He’s got a hundred earmarked for growing hops in different styles and some custom styles we can come up with. It’s a really cool relationship and we’re both kind of starting at the same time. Obviously, we’re the closest to him and we’d like to grow a regular relationship with him. He’s done a great job there and he speaks the language for sure. He gets it.”

Tecumseh has its sights on limited distribution to area bars and restaurants, but no immediate plans for bottling, which can be expensive.

“We’re going to draw a little fence around the brewery and then [move on to] Adrian, Ann Arbor, maybe Monroe and Dundee,” DeWitt said. “We’ll try to get around and to start getting people’s attention.”

For more information about Tecumseh Brewing Co., call 517-815-1726 or visit tecumsehbrewingco.com or on Facebook.

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Opening Day Beer Bash at Fifth Third

The Mud Hens will play host to their first Opening Day Beer Bash on April 16, a 4 p.m. home-opener doubleheader at Fifth Third Field against the Columbus Clippers.

There will be more than 30 beers from nine breweries to sample from 3 to 5 p.m. at the event.

The game-day package is $45 and includes a game ticket for the the Home Run Terrace area in the outfield, 12 three-ounce beer samples, a souvenir glass, and access to an all-you-can-eat buffet and soft drinks. Packages for designated drivers are $35.

Participating breweries include Maumee Bay, Sweetwater, Saugatuck, Goose Island, Frankenmuth, Kona, Summit, Red Hook, and O’Fallon. For a list of the beers available, go to tinyurl.com/​l4dsf32.

Also, look for more craft beers at Fifth Third Field this season, team catering president Craig Nelson said.

Pub 315, in right field under The Roost, is where the ballpark mainly features its craft beer offerings. Nelson said there are six taps at the pub that will rotate throughout the season.

For more information about the Opening Day Beer Bash, call 419-725-4367 or go to mudhens.com.

Saturday tastings at The Andersons

The wine shop at The Andersons, 4701 Talmadge Rd., has beer tastings from 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday through May.

According to wine shop manager Jim Heltebrake, April 18’s theme is “Support Your Local Brewer Day.” Representatives from local breweries Maumee Bay, Great Black Swamp, and Black Frog will be on hand to offer samples of their beers and answer questions. Southeast Michigan breweries Arbor, Atwater, and Jolly Pumpkin, among others, also will be in attendance.

Tastings schedule for the next month: Boulevard Brewing, Saturday; Polish and Eastern European beers, April 4; Sweetwater Brewing, April 11; Oskar Blues Brewery, April 25.

Each tasting is priced separately. For more information, call 419-473-3232 or go to The Andersons Toledo Wine Shop Facebook page.

Contact Bob Cunningham at bcunningham@theblade.com or 419-724-6506.

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