The tall brick structure first caught my eye late afternoon as the GPS said I was approaching Petoskey State Park. When I say “caught my eye” that’s a little understated. I swear the red bricks of this 118-year-old edifice vibrated with an energy that made my skin tingle. If buildings were ladies then this is Jessica Chastain, flaming red hair, attitude, and no introduction required.
I had read plenty about Petoskey Brewing when planning my trip to northern Michigan. With on-tap names like Juicy New England Style IPA, Robusta Nut Coconut Chocolate Porter, and Hopsesssed Double IPA I could already taste it. Smooth, cool and fragrant! I’m a sucker for a great burger and Petoskey Brewing’s Smashed Burgers sounded wonderful. Can you imagine fresh-ground Angus beef purchased locally, topped with local bacon, cheddar cheese, and a special house-made sauce? Ok, so now I’m getting hungry.
Teddy R. and the Rough Riders
While the beer and food certainly lived up to my expectations, it was the building itself that blew me away. First completed in 1898 (Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders, USS Maine, and the Spanish-American War) the “Old Brewery” as it was then known, brewed Petoskey Sparkle beer. When local prohibition shut the brewery down in 1915, the structure lived on serving a number of purposes including warehouse, retail shops and possibly a goat barn.
Think the Industrial Age
Fortunately, the building was left largely unchanged since first constructed. Four-stories tall with solid brick walls 26-inches deep, they don’t build ’em like this anymore. The shape of the structure reflects the brewing practices of the late 19th-century which relied on gravity. Seventy-feet high, the top floor housed a large water tank to serve the brewery’s need. From the top the process flowed downward–brew vat, fermentation and finally packaging. Necessity is the mother of invention, and nothing is more necessary than a cold beer.
In 2012, Patrick Dowd and Lou Gostinger, two local businessmen, bought the Old Brewery intent on restoring it to its original purpose. Although the restoration process was challenging, the brewery marries modernity with the vintage look of the original building. At the rear of the Brewery is a fun outdoor patio with a tap room, picnic tables and easy access to the bike trails. Given Petoskey’s proximity to an abundance of outdoor recreation, the patio was busy even on a weekday afternoon post-Labor Day. Who could have imagined that 103 years after the original brewery shut its doors business would be better than ever? Production and distribution continue to expand, quality remains high, and Petoskey Brewing is once again a welcome rest-stop in the community.
Today there are more than 6000 craft-breweries all over this country, many turning out some excellent brew. Few equal Petoskey Brewing in making great beer and preserving history.
Petoskey Brewing is located at 1844 M-119, Petoskey, Michigan
Where to stay
Petoskey State Park is almost across the highway. Petoskey KOA is one mile away.