Lake Michigan’s largest island may seem like a world away, but it’s about to join a revolution that’s been spreading like wildfire on the mainland.
After years of planning, Whiskey Point Brewing Co. is nearing its opening day on the main drag in the tiny community and population center toward the north end of Beaver Island, which has an overall year-round population of about 650 people.
A long-time homebrewer, Patrick McGinnity decided to take the leap into professional brewing in the hopes that it can turn into an economic stimulus for the remote island, located about 35 miles off Charlevoix. The Emerald Isle is only accessible from the mainland by ferry or airplane.
“We want to promote the craft nature of the island,” said McGinnity, who grew up on Beaver Island and moved back five and a half years ago to run the island’s library.
Whiskey Point, so named for the land mass and historical trading post at the north end of Saint James Harbor, expects to open this year with a 2-barrel brewing system and make beers that “lean more toward the British Isles styles,” McGinnity said, noting the taproom features a 12-foot section from the original bar at Short’s Brewing Co. in Bellaire. The brewery also plans to feature a small food menu.
To start, McGinnity expects to have limited distribution to a couple of Charlevoix locations, but in the long term hopes to grow Whiskey Point to serve as a beacon to lure more people to Beaver Island.
With the brewery, McGinnity hopes to convert the local population — “known for its consumption of alcohol” — to a local, craft-made product, as well as turn the company into an economic engine that creates more jobs for islanders.
His long-term goal: “I’d like to see it so Beaver Island exports more beer than it imports.”