Monday, February 4, 2013

The Ultimate Beer Post

Longtime readers of el bloggo know that I am a craft beer enthusiast. Heck, one of my post labels is "I run so I can drink beer." My Facebook friends know most of my pictures fall into two categories: beer and cats.

This is the story of how I came to be a partner in a microbrewery.

In July 2009 I was at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti. My friend Patti and I were cruising around the park sampling great beers when I spotted this fellow:


I ran up to him and enthusiastically yelled, "YES!" I was perhaps a bit too exuberant; I was a couple of hours into a beer festival, after all. I said that I lived in Chelsea and it would be a craft beer lover's dream come true if there was a brewery in town within walking distance of my house.

He gave me a business card (I still have it) and I got on the mailing list for the potential business. Over the course of the next year I received occasional updates as he began formulating a business plan, and when he mentioned acquiring a pool of investors, that was the first time it occurred to me I could be one of them. Wouldn't that be incredible! Not only to have a microbrewery in my town, but one in which I had a stake? Even better.

I went to my first potential investors' meeting in October 2010. Papers were filled out, information was dispersed, and the months went by. In the summer of 2011 there was a perfect storm of fortuitous financial circumstances, and I was able to purchase a share in the nascent Chelsea Alehouse.

The period after becoming an official investor was agonizing. Now that I was in, I wanted that brewery OPEN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Not so fast. First, there was the matter of finding a suitable space. Once the location had been secured, it had to be built out, which required turning a dismal, dirty industrial building into something light and welcoming. Then there were ENDLESS permits that had to be acquired from local, state, and federal agencies.

Work on the space crept forward during the summer and fall of 2012. I would occasionally find a reason to go past the location to see what had changed. Windows went in, drains and drywall were installed, corridors appeared, paint went on the walls, and the brewing tanks were settled in place. When Chris brewed the first batch of beer, I knew that opening day was mere weeks away. My excitement reached a fever pitch; the waiting was excruciating!

The week before Christmas, I received word: the brewery would officially be open for the first time on Friday, December 21. This was a "soft opening" event for the partners and Founding Mug Club Members.

That afternoon, I drove home and did what I had been dreaming about for a very, very long time:

I walked the half-mile to the brewery I own a little piece of (it took 8.5 minutes) and settled in at the gleaming bar with my mug.

Beer + reading material = awesome
I stayed there for FIVE HOURS. I took full advantage of all three beers available on tap at the time, and walked...okay, perhaps stumbled....home in a happy drunken haze. The whole evening had been joyous. I remember at one point finding Chris's wife and we exchanged an enthusiastic hug as I exclaimed, "I can't believe it's finally happening! This is so exciting!"

More visits to the brewery over the holidays followed, and I was able to celebrate my 39th birthday there on December 28 with a group of friends.

Happy birthday to me!
After years of declining interest in celebrating getting older (who wants to acknowledge they're closing in on 40, after all), this was the best birthday I'd had in a long time.

These days one can find me at the brewery almost every afternoon on days it's open (five days a week right now). All the staff know me; I said to them on that first night, "You're going to see a lot of me." I don't even have to tell anyone which mug is mine: #3.

My "barbed wire" mug
I chose that mug out of the hundreds available because the lines remind me of barbed wire, which reminds me of hashing, because one often runs into (sometimes quite literally) barbed wire on trail. I took the Redhead with me to the brewery on mug-picking night (this was prior to our weekly viewing of "A Game of Thrones") and she was the one who pointed out the resemblance to barbed wire.

I was at the brewery last Friday after work, and the setting sun was shining through the big western window. (I found it kind of depressing that every other time I've been there, it's been cloudy. Hooray for Michigan winter.) The sunlight made all the glasses sparkle and the taps gleam and I thought it was just about the prettiest thing I'd ever seen.

Sad iPhone camera with zero dynamic range did not accurately capture the scene. It was really, really bright.
Thus far having the brewery in town has been all I hoped for and more. Even if I wasn't an investor it would still be a wonderful addition to the local scene. I can't wait for warm weather and the opening of the outdoor patio, being able to walk home in daylight, bringing the hashers in for an on-after, and, of course, continued visits of my own. Many, many visits.

I wouldn't end this post without pertinent information!

Chelsea Alehouse Brewery
420 North Main St, Suite 100
Chelsea, MI

Facebook: Chelsea Alehouse
Twitter: @ChelseaAlehouse

Come on down. Sit for a spell. Have a few pints. Chances are, I'll be there.

1 comment:

MCM Mama said...

Congratulations! We invested in the Mad Fox Brewery in Virginia and it's the most enjoyable investment ever!

Next time the hubs and I are in Wisconsin, we'll have to plan a trip over to check it out!