It’s OK to be a little scared of the future: the polar ice caps melting and flooding our metropolises, robots snacking on our bodies for battery power, the inevitable heat death of the universe. It’s all a bit much.
On the bright side, West Michigan breweries persist, pushing the posts of excellence further with each passing year. Truly, it’s never been a better time to be a drinker. Sours are getting stranger, IPAs grow wider in diversity, craft lagers are the superior alternative to macro swill. We asked some of our favorite breweries to get a forecast on how they plan to improve and impress us in 2019. Never mind the doom and gloom — it looks like we’ll have good beer to ring in the apocalypse.
Bri Ross, Creston Brewing Company
Our goal is to always continue to revitalize the great Creston neighborhood. We want people to really experience just how unique and approachable this community truly is and it’s our goal for Creston Brewery to be the nucleus of that. For 2019, expect to see us and our beer at plenty of beer festivals, competitions and of course on the shelves of your favorite craft beer stores. In a market that can seem oversaturated, especially in Grand Rapids, we just want our beer to stand out. I think what people really want from that craft beer world is consistency, even if that means consistent change.
Ron Snider, Pike 51
Because we’re a winery/brewery, we’re working on meads, cysers and ciders too. We’ll also be trying out beers based on ingredients you can find here in Hudsonville. A Dutch Cookie stout and Cream Curls stout, both barrel-aged, are gonna be delicious. We want to continue in trend and keep Grand Rapids the number one beer destination. I’ve done a lot of traveling around the U.S. and hands down, we’re still the best.
David Ringler,Cedar Springs Brewing Company
We hope to make more people happy in 2019, introduce more people to Christoph Küsterer, and exceed our community donations beyond the $20k-plus we gave back this past year. Non-craft beer is still 90 percent of the market, so we can be even better and more inclusive in 2019 as more people are introduced to the traditions and the passionate beer artists behind the movement. By definition, the creativity in craft beer should find something for everyone, and it’s the job of us all to be ambassadors.
Heather VanDyke-Titus, Harmony Brewing Company
In 2018, we added the capacity to deliver pizza and Harmony beer to your door. One of my goals is to continue to spread the word about this amazing development. We will deliver beer. To. Your. Door! Another thing my brothers and I are excited about is a renewed focus on education and culture building for our staff. One of our goals is for every staff member to participate in a brew day, and to do a few collaborative staff beers. We’ve been testing some new recipes and I’m so excited to share them once they’re ready to go.
Michael Brower, Pigeon Hill Brewing Company
Our biggest goal is to finish our new production facility and start making beer there! Beyond that, we are looking forward to putting new products, both beer and otherwise, into cans in 2019. As we go into 2019, we have a foundation that we’re proud of, and we’re looking forward to experimenting a bit more with new styles, new approaches and completely new product types. As craft beer consumers, I hope that our community focuses more on drinking beer because it’s good, not simply because it’s new, hyped or rare. Some of the best beers in the world are readily available any day.
Lindsey VanDenBoom, Perrin Brewing Company
One big initiative for Perrin Brewing in 2019 is a new brand refresh and launch. Starting with a modernized logo to fresh can design to crafting a story that speaks about the culture and beer that Perrin Brewing produces. We’re taking a step into the hard seltzer game with Clear Coast, which happens to be Michigan’s first hard seltzer to hit the market. Through the Perrin Brewing Side Hustle series, we will be releasing a plethora of off-the-wall styles to do some experimentation and let the brewer’s imagination have some fun! We try not to be afraid to take risks. Not only in the beer styles but in marketing, sales and even within the taproom. We move quickly. Things change on a dime with craft beer trends.
Jeff Williams and Jon Vanderploeg, The Mitten Brewing Company
As far as new beer things go, our sour program will be the biggest departure from what the Mitten has done in the past six years. We’ve made awesome, tight, clean beer. This is taking that level of quality control and making it wild.
Mitch Ermatinger, Speciation Artisan Ales
My goal for 2019 is to get our wine program off the ground. We’ll be making some very interesting and rule-breaking wines, so I’m excited to see the response!
Ryan Andrews, Grand Armory Brewing Company
Grand Armory strives to maintain our high level of quality and standards in every facet of our business, from the production side to our taproom and everything in between. We always feel like we can get better in everything we do. Craft beer is all about quality and consistency, and there is a lot of work that goes into maintaining that level of excellence. We’re also an industry that has such a beneficial impact on our local communities! Keeping our local communities as a top priority is something that makes craft beer so special!
Seth Rivard, Rockford Brewing Company
RBC will be very focused on distributing our tasty brews to the Kent County market, our beloved backyard. We are planning to more than double our beer production in 2019. We plan to focus on building and creating beers that are unique and interesting using ingredients that are not typically utilized in the brewing world rather than following the fickle trends that come in rapid ebbs and flows. Craft beer can get better as a whole by continuing to beat the drum of independence from globally dominated ‘Big Beer’ and keep working to compete and fight for every inch of space that we can get on the shelves and in the marketplace.
Ed Collazzo, City Built Brewing Company
Mind our cash. Mind our people. Mind our resources. We’d like to add capacity in the form of tanks. Add an outdoor seating area. Grow our volunteer program with our staff. Grow to 1,500 barrels of production in 2019. We are stoked to be in such a rich beer culture. GR brewers continue to get better, which is exciting. We are fortunate to be in such a collaborative environment and industry.
Jason Ley, Better Drinking Culture
What started in 2015 by a group of friends sharing their stories about alcohol, Better Drinking Culture has grown into a nationwide grassroots movement shifting our culture’s relationship with drinking in a healthier and more positive direction. 2019 is going to be particularly impactful because we’re releasing our first book, The Drinker’s Manifesto. It’s an honest, approachable conversation at eye-level with college-age novice drinkers, binge drinkers and non-drinkers about what a healthier relationship with alcohol looks like.