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Good Beer Hunting

Jan 27, 2018

As the growth of craft beer and its various offshoots continues to find its niche in smaller and smaller cities and towns, a remarkable thing is happening. Some of the most obscure styles of brewing are making their homes far from the urban centers where most of the drinkers they tend to attract actually live. Breweries like Jester King and Hill Farmstead have long embodied this anomaly. And increasingly, there’s a new gelatin of sorts that’s had experience working in these sought-after breweries who are venturing out on their own, a bit like settlers, as they return to a place they call home and set up shop. They’re not met with instant success very often—even as they take on the challenges of making beers inspired by the Lambic, Gueuze, and wild traditions, they’re also met with the challenge of finding their audience in these smaller, out-of-the-way markets. Speciation Artisan Ales is one of the newest of these in the midwest. After an immersive education experience brewing for Black Project in Denver, Mitch Ermatinger and his wife Whitney decided to return home to the Grand Rapids area of Michigan, find some cheap industrial space, and start making wild ales of their own. Having learned a good deal of the brewing, aging, and blending side of things, they had to learn how to run a business, create a selling strategy, and start attracting an audience for a region of the country that simply doesn’t have much exposure to these kinds of beers—not to mention the way in which they were going to be sold. Even with a brewery like Jolly Pumpkin in his backyard, and being named Beer City USA, this was still a novel idea in 2018 Michigan beer. Listen in as we talk through how it came to fruition.