Let’s get something out of the way—Wolverine State Brewing Company is leading the lager revolution. While Wolverine exhibits all the classic, comfortable taproom tropes, there is something inherently different about the beers they produce and the aura that surrounds them. They have something esoterically Michiganian, crisp and honest, an industrial ingenuousness that allows all of their customers—whether sitting in their Ann Arbor taproom locale or carrying home a six-pack—to feel an ambient pride in the Great Lake State.
Head Brewer Oliver Roberts explains, “I think we want to differentiate ourselves because we’re a lager brewery. We are spending our time. Lagers take more time. We could be making three times as much beer.”
Roberts and the rest of his brewing team are committed to creating quality beer, through diligence and patience. He says their goal is making “good, clean, consistent beers,” beers that speaks to the history of Michigan, beers for the every-man.
Roberts’ commitment to remarkable beer is only expounded upon by Wolverine’s pristine taproom. Located on the west end of Ann Arbor, the taproom exemplifies their allegiance both to Michigan and to the comfort of their seemingly infinite patrons. A gargantuan bar covers an entire wall, backed by an enormous chalkboard colored with neon pastels listing their many drafts. Everything from their Wolverine Premium Lager to their “Insolent Mink” I.P.A, their Gulo series of India lagers, and cleverly named “Faustian Stout” rotates through the taps. Two Olympic-style foosball tables neighbor each other (which are free for customers to use) and are constantly connecting a menagerie of newfound bar buddies. Dartboards lay smack-dab in the middle of a painted map of Michigan (including the Upper Peninsula), highlighting the Great Lakes and many of the state’s focal cities. The industrial feeling lingers in the air, as the beers are made right next-door. One feels instantly a part of the community, as if bonded on site, becoming part of the tight-knit Wolverine molecule.
While Wolverine doesn’t serve any food except chips and peanuts, they support their neighboring businesses by allowing you to order in from other restaurants, and they’re quickly expanding to make space for a catering room and additional special event barroom.
“People come in for wedding receptions, business meetings, birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers,” says E.T Crowe, Wolverine’s Marketing Director and proudly proclaimed Beer Wench.“I think people feel comfortable here, whether they’re sitting at the bar, or reading their book, or playing foosball, or listening to live music.”
If you’re worried about school loyalties, Roberts reassures Michigan State fans. “Wolverine means the Wolverine State. We’re trying to be local in what our brewery stands for. We try not to poach on the U of M thing.”
“You can be anyone you want to be in here,” he adds. “We see people come in with prom dresses, people come in costumes in the middle of the summer.”
Wolverine State Brewing Company is humbly reminding us that the only things necessary to bring people together are good beer and an inclusive sense of community, that Michigan is jovially palming us all. Over beer and foosball, we become one.