Some of the greatest treasures to be found in the world are tucked away in small towns. Amazing restaurants, unique wines, shops that provide goodies for both young and old, and of course unique breweries that curve the bar and remind you just how deep the world of beer can go. Brewery Becker is one of these gems, located in the heart of Brighton Mi. sits the historic building, once a hotel and now a bastion of inspired beer the likes of which you might have to travel far and wide to find again. Sporting one of the most alluring Biergarten’s in the state and a well-informed staff, Brewery Becker is full of local charm, history and above all unique well made beer. I had the honor of sitting down with Matt Becker, Brewery Becker’s Owner and Brewer, and talked him about the building, their upcoming 1 year anniversary, and of course beer.
John: so the first thing I noticed here when I came into the building, aside from the amazing building itself, is that picture of Kronwall behind the bar destroying Havlat, but this building has quite a history to it as well, It used to be a hotel and I had read it took about 38 months to convert the building over to a brewery, what was that process like?
Matt: Painful! hahaha, It was a lot more work that we had anticipated. I mean we knew it would be a lot of work, it was run down and old, as far as the building and we were going to make it fancy so we knew it would be a lot of work but didn’t think it would be quite as much work as it ended up being.
John: Before I had got here I had looked up some pictures of the building and it was absolutely gutted, its impressive because you can’t even tell how far you came with the building, it’s really impressive.
Matt: Yeah we gutted the building completely emptied it out, if you would have come through the roof hatch you would have plummeted to the basement.
John: Ha! How did you land on this building?
Matt: We had been shopping in the area for a place and we looked at a few other places here in town and we were talking to an architect about a different place and it became apparent that the building we were looking at wasn’t going to work. We had a plot map of the city out and just off-hand we said “we’d really like to get that building on the corner, it’s an old nice place” and the architect said “You know it’s for sale” “no we don’t know it’s for sale!”
John: Well you definitely lucked out, everything in here is just beautiful, from the second I came in here my girlfriend was saying that this would be a great place to do a wedding reception
Matt: Yeah we do quite a few of them upstairs, it’s almost like I’m running a brewery/ wedding reception pairing!
It was right about here we got side tracked talking hockey for a few minutes….
John: So you’re coming up on your one year anniversary, do you have any plans to celebrate the occasion?
Matt: We are! we’re going to have a staff party, We’re not doing anything public wise though, our anniversary is the day before the 4th of July so its kinda pointless to have an event that day because we’re going to be slammed anyway because of the holiday.
John: are you releasing any special or commemorative beers for the occasion?
Matt: No, no were not really doing anything special at all for it, we’ve got our wine braggot downstairs it’s aging in the new barrels it’s an Oktoberfest Chianti blend, it’s quite tasty, it’s 9%, so that will be coming up but it won’t be ready for that, it will need another month at least. We’re really not doing anything special other than just chugging right along. As you can tell by our beer list we’re not your typical brewery
John: And that’s a good thing, typical breweries are becoming a dime a dozen now, I can go to a lot of places and get an IPA or whatever, there’s not a lot of places I can go and get a Viking style farmhouse ale and that’s an extremely cool thing, speaking of vikings I really love the Horn Club, is the viking inspiration just for fun?
Matt: Well, this is beer I’ve made for quite a number of years, it’s gotta be 10-12 years ago now when I made if for the first time. I had made it for a group of viking reenactors actually who had asked me to research it and make it for them. It was a big hit so I made it for some other people and it was a big hit so we decided to make it one of our flagship products, and how many breweries flagship beer is a Gruit ale? It’s anti IPA!
John: And that’s one of the great things about this place, even your more traditional offerings here are not necessarily something that you can walk into any taproom and always find. You have an IPL on the menu right now, and that’s something that as great as they are they’re not a dime a dozen you still have to search for them. For me it’s really good to see something different available to try
Matt: Well obviously there’s a good number of breweries that just don’t lager anything, so that’s gonna cut down on that a little bit. We’re definitely not your average brewery though, I mean a Grissette? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Grissette on tap anywhere.
John: Yeah, I can’t say that I have either, where do you draw the inspiration for these beers from?
Matt: Just very traditional beers, I like finding little regional oddities like the Roggenbier or like the Grissette beers that are all kind of local specialties and I really do like to just kinda hit those unique little beers from those little towns. And obviously I’m a history buff some of these more uncommon traditional beers tend to have a good story behind them as well and that always interests me. And a lot of it is what I like to drink, I have the advantage of being the owner as well as the brewer here so I don’t have to play the game, so I take advantage of that fact, that I get to make all the decisions on little oddball styles that I like to do, things that I maybe haven’t done before or sound different without getting too crazy with modern beers. Bean soup breaks that mold a bit but I don’t want everything to be …… rhubarb beer and floor soap beer or whatever. I’m trying to be interesting and traditional at the same time.
John: So where do you see Brewery Becker going in the next year?
Matt: We’re going to continue to do what we’re doing. WE’re going to continue to chase down little styles, we’ll do some more Brewguiver beers with Mike O’Brien definitely, he’s probably just going to hold on to tap #2 for all eternity at this rate! As long as he wants to keep making brews here we’ll keep making them with him. I’m definitely going to continue to expand our barrel aging, we’ve done the bourbon barrels, we’ve got some more bourbon barrels going on, we got new wine barrels down stairs we got some cognac barrels coming in. You definitely will see a little bit of the big stout in a bourbon barrel but it’s gonna be more bier de noels and bier de garde, triples and singles and things going into these barrels not just ipa’s and stouts. I personally think they are the last beer I would put in a barrel just because there’s such fine delicate flavors to be drawn out of them and I believe in complimenting flavors not dominating them. So I see little reason to do a super roasty imperial stout or a really hoppy ipa in a bourbon barrel because it’s stepping all over those barrel flavors, although there is something special about a strong stout in a barrel so we probably will do one of those just because. We’ll probably get a wine license in the near future, we keep talking about it since there’s a demand for wine down here.
John: I would imagine so
Matt: There is, that’s one of the reasons we’re some of these wine braggots because they can be made under my license and they’re much more wine like in character.
John: Do you do any ciders or anything like that here?
Matt: No ciders are also a wine license and so are meads, we’ve done braggots which are mead beer blends in the past And in the fall we’ll probably do an apple beer blend. Maybe like a kolsch with 30/40% apple juice with a lot of really light crisp hoppy apple fresh flavors in there. It really won’t be a cider, because it will be over 50% in grains still so it will have a little more body than a cider but it will probably still taste a lot like a cider.
John: That sounds like something I would get into because I really enjoy seasonal appropriate beers.
Matt: We don’t do a lot of seasonals here just because my taps do rotate so much and so often that kinda everything is a seasonal. With the way our beer list constantly changes if you have been gone for 8-9 weeks you may come back and find only one or two beers from when you were here last time.
John: That’s my favorite kind of taproom though is something that’s always changing, for me I am a hophead and a stout guy but I can get that anytime, it’s nice to see such a wide range of options with a brewery
Matt: I agree, 8 of the top ten voted craft beers this year were all IPA so you can go to the store and get 35 incredible ipa’s and not a single Roggenbier.
The Gruit Ale that was mentioned in conversation with Matt is Brewery Becker’s Vargdricka. What is a Gruit ale you ask? Well the short answer is that it’s a traditional German root or herb beer. Herbal flavors are certainly present in Vargdricka, the beer pours a beautiful hazy copper color with a mellow herbal and slight honey aroma. The brew’s flavor is a well-balanced with hints of dried fruits, slight spices, and some honey as well. What really impressed me about Vargdricka is how well the flavors compliment themselves, what I mean by that is the more I drank of the beer the more pronounced the flavors would come of although it never became overpowering. Grab a growler because this beer travels well, as a very lightly carbonated beer it holds up pretty well even after being in a growler for two days. For more information on the Gruitbier style The German Beer Institute has a very in-depth page with tons of info on the beer and it’s history, or even better, ask Matt about it at the Brewery because the answer will be an extremely well told tale.
There’s a ton to like at Brewery Becker. It’s a unique brewery that will turn you onto and allow you to experience some beer styles that you might not even know existed and couples that with a comforting and relaxing environment regardless if you’re soaking up some sun in the biergarten or enjoying one of the best looking taprooms in the state. Matt has a wealth of knowledge about his beer and really any style of beer and it shows, not only in the quality of the beer that flows from his taps, but also in his attention to detail for his beer and his business as a whole. There’s a lot of great breweries all over the state of Michigan, but whether you’re in town for a day or local to the area Brewery Becker should be added as a destination to take in.
Brewery Becker Contact + Location
Address | 500 W Main St, Brighton, MI 48116
Phone | (810) 844-0225
Tuesday – Thursday | 3 – 11pm
Friday | 3pm – 1am
Saturday | Noon-1am
Sunday | Noon-8pm
Monday | Closed
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