Since springing up in June 2011, Sawyer, Michigan-based Greenbush Brewing has experienced an unexpected growth that has, at times, challenged the staff of this small-town business, but at the same time, has always brought them a tremendous sense of exhilaration and anticipation for what the future holds. A hot spot for both locals and vacationers alike, Greenbush has made a name for itself in the craft beer market thanks to its wide-ranging lineup of mainstay beers and steady carousel of experimental brews. I recently sat down with co-owners Scott Sullivan and Jill Sites in their sun-blanketed taproom to learn more about the latest buds blossoming for Greenbush.
First and foremost is their new brew house that was delivered and installed only a couple weeks ago. This system more than doubles the brewery’s capacity from 7 BBL to 15 BBL, allowing them to hit a production of 255 barrels per week and more than 13,000 per year. Considering Greenbush produced about 4000 barrels in 2012, it’s safe to say that demand has continued to grow…not only in Michigan but in Indiana and Illinois as well.
Upon first opening, Greenbush distributed to nine Michigan counties, then expanded to all of the state in May 2012 and eventually statewide bottle distribution this past February. Their new brew house should significantly help quell their home state demand for the time being as well as allow them to eventually meet the heavy demand they’re getting from their Indiana and Illinois distributors. The most exciting news I heard during my visit was that their bottles would begin showing up in Chicagoland stores this May. These will include their Closure pale ale, Anger black IPA, Brother Benjamin Imperial IPA and Sunspot Hefeweizen (summer seasonal).
With Greenbush’s markets growing further by the week, Sullivan and Sites also have begun to plot the moves to keep up with an even larger-scale production. They have secured a site just down the block from their current facility to accommodate a 50 BBL brewing system that would be dedicated to their distribution network (estimated to open in January 2014). In turn, this will allow them to begin using their 15 BBL system solely for the tap room, as well as experimenting with brewing methods such as lagering and barrel-aging. They also plan on expanding some of Greenbush’s small batch beers, including Delusion, a barrel-aged imperial cream stout, and Doomslayer, a brown ale that uses local maple sap and syrup. Collaborations are also in the works with nearby Journeyman Distillery on some barrel-aged beers and Templeton Rye on a beer called LTD that uses 15 aromatics to taste similar to an Old Fashioned.
In addition to a handful of events during Chicago Craft Beer Week, look for Greenbush at Bluebird (April 9), Blue Frog (April 10), Sheffield’s (April 11), Blue Chip Brewfest (April 13), Cask Fest at Ashley’s Westland (May 4), Naperville Ale Fest (July 20) amongst many others.