Food Service & Agriculture, Lakeshore, and Small Business & Startups

Big Lake Brewing docks in Holland

July 3, 2013
| By Pat Evans |
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Big Lake Brewing docks in Holland
Holland-based Big Lake Brewing produces handcrafted beer and wine. Photo via fb.com

Holland is set to harbor another brewery, this time outside the three-door radius where New Holland Brewing Co. and Our Brewing Co. reside.

On the other side of Holland, Big Lake Brewing will set up shop in a strip mall location, at 977 Butternut Dr., that sat empty for about eight years.

The brewery opens this Friday.


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With the help of a landlord, the trio of Nic Winsemius, Greg MacKeller and Travis Prueter are ready to open the brewery following more than four years of planning and paperwork.

The landlord worked with the brewery to get the property in shape to house the business as well as transfer a liquor license out of his name that delayed the complicated licensing for Big Lake. The commercial plaza already housed a retail license, and Michigan liquor laws require separation between manufacturing, distribution and retail licenses.

“He worked with us a lot to make this happen,” Winsemius said.

Winsemius is an engineer for the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power, while MacKeller and Prueter are engineers for Gentex Corp. All three plan to keep their jobs and keep the brewery a weekend project for now, opening Fridays through Sundays.

Winsemius and Prueter began brewing together in 2006 after meeting at Gentex. In 2009, the pair decided to make a go of the business venture and MacKellar joined in 2010.

Following futile attempts at garnering investor interest, the trio saved their own money and took to a majority of the work on their own.

“We did what we had to do to make it happen,” Winsemius said, adding the location they are in might be a bit large. “We can grow into a spot.”

And with area brewery openings going the way they have, Big Lake could grow nicely into its spot. Working on a three-barrel system with two fermentors, the trio plans to brew once a week for now.

But a pre-used cooler and a huge brewhouse are plenty big enough to support more storage space, so new fermentors and a bigger brew schedule aren’t out of the question.

The brewery seemed to pop up without a lot of attention from the brewing industry, and the owners weren’t unhappy with that.

“We hit roadblock after roadblock after roadblock,” Winsemius said. “We didn’t want to promise anything and not be able to deliver.”

When it opens, Big Lake will have four beers on tap: Chinook Strong Ale, a wheat ale, India Pale Ale and a porter. The brewery also will have two ciders and two wines on tap.

Prueter and Winsemius will do the majority of brewing and MacKeller will do the winemaking.

Winsemius said although the brewery won’t serve food, neighboring restaurants Thai Palace and Peppino’s Pizza already are working with them.

As for the name, it’s simply to pay homage to Lake Michigan.

“It represents the area we’re from,” Winsemius said.

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