Nestled deep in the city of Lake Orion lies a Michigan-based company that is helping push the envelope in the craft beer world. Craftwerk Brewing Systems is pumping out Michigan-made fermentors, barrel systems, tanks and anything else needed to create a brew system for any micro brewery. I had the lovely opportunity to get a tour of this fantastic facility, so I pointed it north to get the run down on Craftwerk.
When I arrived at the plant, I was greeted by Doug Fler, Plant Manager, and he gave me a walk around of this immaculate warehouse. I was first informed that Craftwerk is run by a company called Complete Automation which is part of The Complete Company family. This company has been around in Michigan for over thirty years, and has a vast knowledge of the steel business, something very import to know about when making 120 gallon-barrels to brew golden goodness.
As Doug took me around, he explained to me how the process of these behemoth barrels are constructed.
“It’s a very delicate process, because not only do we have to make sure they are built properly in-house, but also ready for the shipping part as well,” Fler said.
Craftwerk not only builds the tanks, but they also install each brew system that leaves the factory doors.
Craftwerk’s list of brew setups are some of Michigan’s finest. They have help set up immaculate systems at Rochester Mills, Dragonmead, Jolly Pumpkin, and recent renovations to Grand Rapids Brewing Company. A big leap forward for the guys was helping the infamous Founders Brewing company install a 3.5-barrel pilot system last April. These pilot systems help big time brewers brew small batches of high end beers, before they take them to the big leagues. All the big boys have these type of systems including the likes of New Belgium, Stone Brewing and Long Trail Brewing, just to name a few.
There latest product was building the complete brew system for Griffin Claw Brewery, which recently opened in Birmingham. Located next to Big Rock, brewer Dan Rogers decide to take his small scale brew system to the next level when opening his own gig.
” Not only are we going to brew for our own house, but we are going to be distributing kegs to bars around the metro Detroit area,” Rogers said.
He was running around like a mad man getting ready for the opening, which was only a couple days away when I stopped by. The brewery opened its doors on July 18th.
With such little time on the market, it’s awesome to see such a small operation function all around the country. Craftwerk has helped build brew equipment for not only Michigan, but their products can also be found in Alaska, Virginia, California and Colorado. As Doug was finishing up the tour, we were standing in front of a gigantic 120-barrel tank and employees were putting the finishing touches on it, branding it with their logo. He turned to me and said, ” Right now, we can only make what we have ordered, every piece of equipment here has a home. Someday we hope to have the capability to have a stockpile of these things laying around.”