Craft beer business thrives in Michigan

Breweries seen as boost to state

By JOSH GARVEY
Capital News Service

While many Michigan industries are in decline, the craft beer industry is flourishing, with breweries expanding and bringing tourists to local communities.

Craft beer has been expanding nationally, and even more so in Michigan, said Scott Graham, the executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild in Lansing.craft beer

Growing each year

“Michigan every year outpaces the national growth trend,” he said.

A craft or microbrewery is a smaller, regional producer of beers, often with a distinctive flavor.

Beers produced by the 70 in-state breweries represented 1.8 percent of the 6.6 million barrels sold in Michigan in 2008, according to the most recent statistics, said Rex Halfpenny of the Michigan Beer Guide. Each barrel represents 31.5 gallons or 336 12-ounce bottles.

“Given that things are bad and people are out of jobs, people are still drinking beer and they’re also seeking a better glass of beer,” Halfpenny said.

Founders Brewing Co. President Mike Stevens said his Grand Rapids company is going strong.

“We went from around 10,000 barrels to 18,500. My 2010 forecast is to take it up to about 28,000 barrels,” he said.

With that increase comes the need for more employees. Founders moved to a new facility about two years ago and increased its work force from 19 to 73.

“We’re constantly hiring just to accommodate our growth and needs there,” he said. Another expansion is expected later this year, which should bring an additional dozen jobs.

Larry Channel, co-owner of Dragonmead Microbrewery in Warren, said that his company sold around 1,500 barrels of beer in 2009, about 200 barrels more than the previous year.

“In the midst of a recession, we’re not at all upset about what we sold,” Channel said. “We couldn’t increase our capacity without some more capital investment.”

Channel said that although his business is doing well, he’s still concerned about the economy. “At some point in time, people just have to go elsewhere for work.”

Graham of the Brewer’s Guild said that one reason for the increased popularity of Michigan micro-beers is that other states have been far ahead since the craft beer trend began in the 1970s in California.

“Michigan is lagging behind in terms of volume and share, and just increasing awareness is going to last for quite a while,” he said, expressing optimism about the future.

“I’m sure it would be better if economic times were better, but I think we’re going to see growth for years to come. When the economy bounces back, it’ll pick up and be even faster,” he said.

Travel Michigan, the state’s official tourism promotion agency, doesn’t track the number of tourists coming into the state for beer-related visits.michigan great craft beer state

Attracting visitors

Even so, industry experts have a number of anecdotal accounts.

For example, Larry Bell, the president of Bell’s Brewery Inc. in Galesburg, said visitors from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio often make day trips either for an event at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo or as a part of a larger tour of Michigan breweries, such as a recent bus trip of 50 Shepard residents.

“We don’t formally give tours. That being said, we give an awful lot of tours,” said Bell.

In contrast, Mike Stevens of Founders said most out-of-town visitors to his brewery are business travelers making a side trip. Many leisure tourists come specifically to see the brewery, such as the 30 passengers on a chartered bus from Indiana who recently came through.

“There’s a whole beer community out there that’s very intrigued and interested in seeing other breweries,” he said. “Mostly they’re from around the Midwest. It’s still a relatively inexpensive weekend for these folks. They charter a bus, pay 50 bucks, get to come to the brewery, see the place and enjoy a day here.”

The Beer Guide’s Halfpenny said that most fans of microbrews are beer tourists of some sort.

“I’ve been chasing beer since the early ’80s all across this country,” he said. “The beer guide belongs in the car, so as you drive around you can find these places.”

Stevens said part of the reason why Michigan’s beer industry is doing so well is the quality of the products.

“Michigan really does have some of the best breweries in the whole country,” he said.

Paris Hilton Beer Ad Creates Controversy in Brazil

Brazil is offended by Paris Hilton?

Paris Hilton has been absent from tabloid news not because she’s behaved herself, but because she’s in Brazil. And, of course, now she’s in trouble. The sex-pot heiress has stirred up a storm in a new beer commercial, landing the “actress” in hot water with the Brazilian government.

Paris Hilton is just shy of her 30th birthday, but that doesn’t mean she’s lost her ability to shock folks with some long-legged sensuality. But a new commercial (a la the Carl’s Jr. one she did a couple years back) has the Brazilian government up is a fuss.

“It’s an ad that devalues women – in particular, blond women,” says Eduardo Correia, a spokeswoman for the country’s Secretariat for Women’s Affairs.

The ad, for Brazilian beer Devassa (which means “very blonde” in portugese), shows Hilton in an apartment room with a can of the brew, twisting and turning and rubbing herself with the beer. It’s really nothing you wouldn’t see on tv here in the states, let alone on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

Still, the commercial has officials in South America’s largest country upset.

“The problem with the ad isn’t a lack of clothing, but its sensual nature,” Correia said. “A woman in a bikini on a beach isn’t necessarily sensual; it depends on the context.”

On her Twitter page, Paris responded with, “Are they serious? So ridiculous.”

While I’m not one to usually take sides with ditzy millionaire sex-tape heiresses, I have to say this is pretty silly. Check out the commercial below and decide for yourself.

Best Budweiser Beer Commercial

Best Budweiser Beer Commercial of all time!!!

I can’t remember what Superbowl year this is from, but I came across it tonight and just couldn’t resist putting it back out there!

People agree with me, one saying, “God that is so damn cute. it makes me want to cry.” Me too friend! Me too…

Next time you’re enjoying a cold Budweiser, don’t forget your personalized koozie!

Bear in Beer Cooler

Black Bear “Chills Out” in Beer Cooler

Shoppers in a Wisconsin grocery store got an unexpected surprise when a 125-pound black bear wandered inside and headed straight for the beer cooler.

Story of a Bear and his Beer Cooler

The bear stopped Friday night at Marketplace Foods in Hayward, about 140 miles northeast of Minneapolis, sauntering through the automatic doors and heading straight for the liquor department, WEAU-TV reported.

It calmly climbed up 12 feet onto a shelf in the beer cooler where it sat for about an hour while employees helped evacuate customers and summoned wildlife officials.

Officials from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources tranquilized the animal and took it out of the store. Store workers say the bear seemed content in the cooler and did not consume any alcohol (silly bear!!!).

Beer Goggles

Funny Video about Beer Goggles … And the danger!

Beer Goggles is a phenomenon in which one’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful; summed up by the phrase, “There are no ugly women at closing time.”

When I took her to bed, she looked like Halle Berry. When I woke up, she looked like Keith Richards!

When you’re heading to the “after party” (no doubt with a hot, err, chick in arm) at closing time, don’t forget your favorite koozie!

Beer Koozies

Invention of Beer Koozies

The beer Koozie is an insulated fabric sleeve that wraps around cans and bottles to keep beer and other beverages cold. When empty it is easily collapsible so it takes up little room when stored. It is unclear who the original inventor is, but a series of U.S. patents trace its history all the way back to 1921 and an invention called a “cozy” for insulating portable gas generators.

Beer Koozies

The Krazy Koozie

1. In 2007, Kyle Brandon Jones of Glen Rose, Texas, was granted a U.S. patent for the Krazy Koozie. In his patent application, he describes the Krazy Koozie as a device that is similar to a wide variety of other products on the market. Like those other products, the Krazy Koozie wraps around beverage containers and protects the hands from hot drinks and insulates cold beverages. but Jones’ Koozie also expands and contracts to hold a variety of different sizes and shapes of beverage containers. Jones’ patent application is a useful guide to the history of Koozies because it contains references to related patents that date back to 1921.

The Earliest Koozies

2. David and Russell Duncan patented the earliest known Koozie in 1921 for a “cozy for portable gas generators.” The United States granted another related patent in 1929 for a linoleum jacket to William Waggoner.

The First Beverage Koozie

3. The first owner of a patent on a beer Koozie was Bonnie McGough of Caldwell, Idaho. She received her patent in October 1981 for a device she called the “insulated beverage cozy.” This insulated cozy was made for use with 12-oz. cans. The cozy had inner and outer fabric walls with a chamber in between for insulating material and an elastic band at the top for holding the beverage snugly inside the cozy.

Improving on Mcgough’s Design

4. In 1987, Scott Henderson of Plano, Texas, received a patent for a product he described as a fold-up insulated beverage container holder with a stabilizing support base. This Koozie offered a specially designed base that could collapse with the rest of the Koozie, but which also added stability so that when someone put their Koozie-covered drink down on a flat surface it wouldn’t wobble or fall over.

Today’s Koozie Market

5. There are so many different Koozies on the market today, it’s hard to say who invented what. There is not even any agreement on how to spell the Koozie. It has been referred to as a Koozie, koozy, cosy, cozie, cozy and any other spelling you can imagine. They come in all manner of shapes, colors and sizes. Some have sports team logos on them. Some have beer brewery logos. Some have zippers. Some have buttons. The only thing we can say for sure is that we know a Koozie when we see one.