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Brewery opens taproom Up North

July 1, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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Brewery expands to fill demand
The Mitten Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids is a baseball-themed microbrewery that pairs craft beer with specialty pizzas. Photo via fb.com

A local brewery is opening a taproom in northern Michigan.

The Mitten Brewing Co. has announced it will open a taproom this month at the former Northport Brewing Company in Northport, at 112 W. Nagonaba St.

The Mitten plans to open in the next week or so with 10 beers on tap.

The opportunity arose when a friend who operates a food truck on the brewery site alerted the Mitten owners of an opportunity to help a local brewery stay afloat, Mitten co-owner Andrus said.

Northport Brewing was left with a finite supply of kegs and a limited lifespan, Andrus said. The Mitten owners then worked with the majority owner of Northport Brewing, who is still the property owner.

“We talked about keeping it open because we realized — organizational issues aside — it is a vital part of downtown Northport,” Andrus said. “It’s the only brewery up at the top of Leelanau Peninsula, so it was worth exploring trying to keep it open.”

This year, the Northport brewery will serve beers brewed in Grand Rapids, but the company will explore using the small brewing system in place to brew experimental batches with local ingredients in the future, Andrus said.

He also said the company will make a commitment to hire only Northport residents and it will continue to be run and managed by longtime Northport resident and Northport Brewing general manager Dan Frank. The Mitten’s community initiatives will also be continued in the Northport community.

“The biggest thing about this was we wanted to make sure Michigan beer keeps flowing up there,” Andrus said of the “small, lodge-like environment.”

Andrus and co-owner Max Trierweiler will also host a community open house at some point in July. 

“We want to show the community we’re a small, family run business and not a big, monolithic corporation coming in and taking over," Andrus said. "We want to take what we do down here and do it up there.”

The brewery also will provide Kevin Murphy and John Snyder a space to keep running their food truck, “Earth Wind & Fryer,” onsite. The Mitten will not be making its signature pizzas up north, Andrus added.

A small taproom opening such as this is the only way the Mitten could open a second location, Andrus said. The state currently allows for three brewery taprooms under one license, and this marks the third as the company’s production facility on Leonard Street also counts, despite no beer being served there, Andrus said.

“It’s tempting to take what you do and grow it,” Andrus said. “It’s always been one of those down-the-line sort of things, but this works for us now. We certainly didn’t want to bite off more than we can chew. The goal is always to stay lean, mean and clean.”

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