Our Brewing Company races to meet opening demand
A brewery business plan written for a Northern Michigan town doesn’t necessarily work for a Lakeshore city.
Our Brewing Company in Holland learned that the hard way when the brewery opened up and went through 13 kegs in 15 hours. The next weekend, Our Brewing flew through a week’s worth of product in eight hours. It will open again today, with 16 beers on tap.
“The demand is growing faster than we thought it would,” Our Brewing owner Trevor Doublestein said in somewhat of an understatement. “We’ll just keep plugging away to meet it. We can only do it in baby steps; we don’t have the money to do it all at once.”
The demand surprised Doublestein — and business partner Dane Sexton — and forced him to order a larger, three-barrel system. That system won’t arrive until January, however, leaving him and his brewer, Ed DeGalan, to brew as much as possible on their half-barrel system for three-day openings.
“It’s close now for a month or two for a huge backlog,” Doublestein said. “Or we can have our weekends, which seems to be the feasible option. It’s like people say, ‘We can’t get it until the weekend, so we have to get there before it runs out.’”
The small, nano-brewing techniques will allow the brewery to release small batches of unique, “out-of-the-ordinary” beers and new recipes.
That’s where the name comes from. Doublestein said each month, there will be a drawing where a patron can decide what ingredients will go into a beer, watch the process, name it and have a release party.
“It’s just a thing to make a brewery theirs, or ours,” he said. “Give them a little bit of ownership. We’re family and friends and we want people to feel connected.”
Two doors down 8th Street sits one of Michigan’s largest breweries, New Holland Brewing Co. The established company welcomes its new neighbor. The brewers at New Holland helped Doublestein figure out the brewing system when it was first up and running.
New Holland President Brett VanderKamp likens the situation to when Starbucks began to expand in the 1970s.
“How many coffee shops can you possibly have? We have four in one block,” VanderKamp said. “To a certain degree you could have four breweries in four blocks. The limiting factor in distribution will be shelf space, but I don’t know if there’s a limiting factor in getting people through the door as long as you provide a unique product and atmosphere. They all have their specialties.”
The specialty is where Doublestein believes he can really set himself apart. He spent several months using his construction background to bring the building back to its original brick walls, wood floors and tin ceiling. Then he built the tables and the bar.
“We want it to be an intimate living room setting, so people can sit for hours to watch games,” he said. “We’ll have live music. It won’t be so restaurant-y or bar-y; it’ll be a place to gather.”