Walking under the grand marquee of the legendary Fillmore downtown, bold words above shout three simple, wonderful words: “Michigan Beer Film.” Throwing them together though, they encompass a great community, one that is growing at a rapid rate throughout the Great Lakes state. Unless you’ve been Michigan illiterate for the last couple of years, you’re well aware that craft beer has become a staple of the mitten state.
This film was put together by production company Rhino Media based out of Kalamazoo. The mastermind behind the project, director Kevin Romeo, set out to make a film that could be simply enjoyed by craft beer drinkers with a beverage in hand, but quickly turned into a vagabond adventure around the state, involving 21 breweries, five craft beer bars and an array of beer festivals.
“We wanted people to understand more about what goes into the beer they drink and that they can be a part of something really spectacular happening around them,” Romeo explained.
With six breweries on hand, all pouring an array of local brews from hometown heroes, there was no short supply of drink to go around, from Atwater Brewery to Bellaire’s Short’s Brewing Company. As the film began, everyone ready with drink in hand, The Detroit Free Press shared its plans for its up and coming Freep Film Festival happening March 20 through 23, consisting only of documentaries highlighting the city.
The film opens up on a hop farm, and we are reminded that it’s not just the brewers who contribute to the drink in our glass. Thanks to the help from local hop farms such as Michigan Hop Alliance and Hop Head Farms, Michigan breweries are fortunate enough to have access to some of the best hops in the country. Farming has and always will be an essential part of the state, helping harvest many jobs and building an economic backbone for the hard working and dedicated people that Michigan is known for.
Greenbush Brewing Company has been slowly making strides as a major player in the Michigan craft beer game, and Romeo chose them as one of the main feature breweries for his film.
“We focused a lot on Greenbush, mainly because they were open to us shooting in the beginning of the process and they are EXPLODING. So in many ways, their story is a great indicator of what Michigan is doing as a whole,” Romeo said.
Detroit’s brewery scene may seem weak when comparing it to the other cities in the state, but the dedication and determination from Stephen Roginson at Batch Brewing Company goes to show how the do-it-yourself attitude will get things done. Recently winning Hatch Detroit, Batch Brewing was awarded $50,000 by popular vote to open their nano-brewery in Corktown. Romeo sees a small group of people like Roginson starting to grasp craft beer in the Motor City.
“Detroit can’t be held down and it’s exciting to see them embrace craft beer. Steve has a great perspective as a young brewer/entrepreneur, he’s seen his share of obstacles and that seasoning will help him tremendously. He really seems to ‘get it’,” Romeo said.
Throughout the movie, there is one message that resonates: communities build breweries, plain and simple. If you look at the state, from Grand Rapids to Traverse City to Detroit, they all have a strong community that is loyal to their respective craft breweries. Next time you grab a Huma-Lupa or Oberon, enjoy a long sip and take note of all the hard work and dedication that went into that tasty brew.