Brewery of the Month: Our Brewing Company
Trevor Doublestein and Dane Sexton have been friends for nearly 12 years. Sexton went to WMU for finance and has held a position with Morgan Stanley for 13 years, while Doublestein went to Columbia for film and worked for his family's construction business in Petoskey.
Doublestein enjoyed brewing for years and had an interest in opening his own place. He lacked the financial background to go forward on his own, so he brought the idea up to Sexton, who came on board immediately.
"I read [the business plan], and I was sold from the time I saw it," Sexton said.
The childhood friendship between Doublestein and Sexton morphed into a functional business relationship with Sexton handling the financial end
and Doublestein taking charge of the brewery and day-to-day operations. For the brewery, the duo had scouted multiple locations, but kept coming back to Holland, where Our Brewing Company was born.
"The more time we spent down here and got to be part of this community, we said 'we want to be a part of this,'" Doublestein said.
The location had popped up for sale during their scouting, and they took to it immediately. After some meticulous planning, the lease was signed and the two moved forward with construction and renovation, turning what used to be an office building into a sleek new brewpub.
After months of renovation and getting the brewery up and running, Sexton and Doublestein decided to do a week of soft opening, just for friends and family, before opening to the public at the beginning of November 2012.
"We blew through the beer in a tenth the time we thought, it was a huge success," Sexton said. "And word started to get around that people liked our beer."
The response was so large that the beer ran out in two nights' time. As a result, the owners moved to restricted hours to compensate for the huge demand.
Rather than creating unique brands like most breweries do, Our Brewing Company decided to take the unique approach of maintaining styles for pour. Rather than having an "8th Street Pale" that gets brewed over and over, they maintain a "Pale Ale" tap that pours different variations of that style, creating a unique sense of immediacy in their taproom.
"Our goal all along was to simply make fabulous beer," Sexton said. "We set the bar high, and we want to keep it there."
Our Brewing Company is also very involved with its customer base, listening to feedback and even employing a "beer suggestion box," where one new brew is chosen every month and brewed. The winner gets to attend the brew day, name the beer and get their own release party in the taproom.
Upon my visit, there were many offerings on tap: Toasted Coconut Porter, Black IPA, 'Black to the Future' Blackberry Wheat (beer of the month), Peachy Keen Cream Ale, Centennial Park Pale and an Andes Mint Stout to name a few. The brewery also features two gluten-free beers: an IPA and Saint Celiac's Belgian Tripel.
The taproom is long and features lots of natural light, short and tall tables to accompany the bring-your-own-food policy, and a full bar with a post prohibition feel. There are also darts, shuffleboard and card games to keep you occupied while enjoying your brew.
Our Brewing Company has already invested in a new brew system to accommodate the demand and has plans for distribution in the future, along with a patio out front.
"This is a place you can always feel comfortable," Doublestein said. "It's like being at home and tasting your friend's homebrew."
Our Brewing Company: 76 East 8th Street, Holland, (616) 994-8417, ourbrewingcompany.com
You know that the weather is turning soon when Brewery Vivant releases Zaison, its imperial saison.
This beer pours hazy deep orange with an aroma full of bright citrus, malt and a hint of spice. This brew is medium bodied and full of sweet, bready malt tones and bursting with citrus, orange peel and grapefruit while maintaining a soft must with a twist of tart sour on the finish. At 9% ABV, it's a wonderful start to spring.