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Posted on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 6:04 a.m.

Wolverine Brewing Co. will open westside Ann Arbor microbrewery by April

By Paula Gardner

Owners of an Ann Arbor-based microbrew just signed their first lease for space that will allow them to increase beer production, add product lines and establish a tasting room on the west side of the city.

Wolverine Brewing Co. will occupy about 6,000-square-feet in the former Big George’s Home Appliance Mart building on West Stadium.


From left: Wolverine Brewing Co. President Matt Roy, co-owner E.T. Crowe, and Brewmaster Oliver Roberts hold up their beers this week in a toast of celebration at Conor O'Neill's in downtown Ann Arbor.

Angela J. Cesere |

The deal lets the partners behind the beer - already sold across the state under the flagship Wolverine Premium Lager brand - build their niche in Michigan’s growing specialty beer market, which to date has focused on ales.

“We are a first,” said co-owner Matt Roy, “and we think the market’s ready for it.”

Wolverine Brewing Co. was launched three years ago with the idea and the corporate formation, Roy said. The beer followed.

“We literally spent the first year as a company producing beer in my basement,” he said.

The flagship product was designed to have broad appeal so that the company could gain a distributorship and build sales from the single recipe.

The beer is an American Premium Lager, one of about 100 official beer categories in the United States., Roy said. It’s also the most popular style among mass-produced beers.

“It’s what everyone is used to drinking,” Roy said. Wolverine, he added, “is on the more full-bodied end of the spectrum.”

The move to West Stadium gives the company control over production, which has been done on a contract basis with Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville, east of Lansing.

The company will add new beers to its product line quickly. All will be lagers, which will distinguish the company among other large Michigan microbrews, which typically focus on ales.

“The day we open our doors, we hope to have four beers available, maybe more,” Roy said. “We’ve been working on our recipes for three years.”

Head brewer will be Oliver Roberts, now assistant brewer at Grizzly Peak in downtown Ann Arbor. Ron Jeffries, owner of Jolly Pumpkin in Ann Arbor, also has been helpful with the set up, Roy said.

Roy said he and his two partners - E.T. Crowe and Trevor Thrall - sought space for over a year, touring several Ann Arbor properties with Dan Stewart of Michigan Commercial Realty before committing to the building on West Stadium, listed by Susan Moore of Colliers International.

“You really need an ideal location,” Roy said. That, he added, means a mix of industrial space for the brewing and an appropriate setting for retail sales.

Brewing equipment was been purchased from a company in Colorado, said Crowe. Move-in starts by the end of January, she added.

The partners have a vision for the facility that includes creating a taproom space where customers can gather and drink the beer. It won’t be a restaurant, Crowe said.

“There are so many great brewpubs in this town already,” she said.

But the Wolverine Brewery will offer its own beers in a comfortable seating, along with the ability for customers to bring food in or order delivery, possibly through partnerships with nearby restaurants. It’s a similar model to the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti.

The company produced 150 barrels in 2009, up from 35 in its first year and 100 in its second year. The state classification for microbrews is a company that brews under 30,000 barrels per year.

The self-funded expansion is part of the company’s business plan. But it also lets the owners create the kind of culture for its customers that they said is impossible to generate by not using their own brewing equipment or operating their own taproom.

“The craft beer movement is something that people want to be a part of,” Roy said. “They want to see the tanks and see the beer being made.”

For more information on Ann Arbor restaurants, visit's restaurant guide. 

Paula Gardner is business director of She can be reached at or 734-623-2586.



Tue, Dec 21, 2010 : 2:57 p.m.

Lots of potential. The beer was not very good though ) :


Thu, Apr 1, 2010 : 9:39 a.m.

I am definitely excited for a brewery this side of town! However, I tasted their beer at MI Beer Fest this year and sorry to say, I was a little disappointed. They only had one type there so maybe the other types are better.? Also, they could still be ironing out the kinks.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 12:42 a.m.

This is awesome! Another microbrewery in town is a great thing! Competition breeds excellence! Consumers win here. Ann Arbor is becoming quite the 'beer town.'


Tue, Jan 26, 2010 : 12:51 a.m.

This operation has a unique opportunity to be a complete success, or a short lived failure. Lots of people in the area have been setting expectations low based on Wolverine Beer "Michigan's premier lager." Which leaves us in the area to pray, that the brewers will take a tip from Grizzly, New Holland, ABC, Bells, and every other brewery that brewed beer that tasted nothing like the beer we have come to expect from Wolverine.

Cedric Richner

Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 4:45 p.m.

Awesome! This is just what we need on the Westside of Ann Arbor. I've bought Wolverine Beer before and it's excellent. Can't wait to hit the brew pub. Plus, it will be great to support a local business and a start up at that. This is the kind of thing we need in Michigan right now.


Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

This is an inspirational story. As a homebrewer I would like to follow this same path but in another city in metro Detroit which I feel would thrive. I wish you luck and can't wait to stop in and try the brew. Oh by the way, I used to work at Big George's and I am pleased to know it will be alive once again!


Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

I will never complain about a new brewery opening up, but lagers or not, if the beer is as flat and tasteless as the ones they brew at Grizzly Peak we may as well be getting a Bud Lite factory coming to town.

ET Crowe

Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

Never fear lager fans... you won't be disappointed!

David Briegel

Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 2:45 a.m.

Hot Sam, See Ya There!


Fri, Jan 15, 2010 : 1:30 a.m.

i can never complain about another brewery opening, however having oliver roberts of grizzly peak at the helm may give me a reason...they can make all the lagers they want, but as long as they're as flat and tasteless as the ones GP currently makes we may as well have a new bud lite factory moving to town

Hot Sam

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:46 p.m.

Dave! We have to be careful agreeing like this!!!

David Briegel

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 9:14 p.m.

Peanuts, Popcorn and Beer. A healthy diet covering all the essential food groups!!

Eric P

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 7:29 p.m.

Nice, can't wait to drink beer in the place that I used to rent videos back in the 80s. I also dig the fact that when the weather is nice the location is walkable for many in the neighborhoods around that area.

Top Cat 2 Electric Boogaloo

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 6:57 p.m.

This is so awesome--I especially like the lager concept. Between Wolverine, Corner Brewery (and Arbor Brewing), Jolly Pumpkin and Original Gravity in Milan (google it and go if you haven't been)this city is shaping up to be a pretty good beer town. Those of us who can't afford the...finer.. places appreciate it.

Hot Sam

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 6:47 p.m.

The lack of food is not necessarily a bad thing. One of my favorite haunts when I travel is a place called Schmohz in Grand Rapids. They have no food, but free peanuts and popcorn. I have talked with the owners, and they say that the overhead and bureaucracy of doing food is difficult to create profit. I think the free peanut idea is a will surely sell more beer, and that's where the most profit is!! Good luck, and I'll be there!!!

Tom Joad

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 6:08 p.m.

Beer, parking, driving, drinking...yeah....just know your limits

ET Crowe

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 3:17 p.m.

As a matter of fact we will have a Founder's Club--watch our site for more info on it, or email me your address and I will send you info directly. We'll be unveiling the details by the Super Bowl. We'll also have a Mug Club once we open--naturally. We Love Regulars.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

A brewery within walking distance of my house is the best news I've had all year (maybe longer;-). Proof that the gods want me to be happy. Are you guys taking deposits for reserved bar seating at my favorite neighborhood pub?

ET Crowe

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 2:33 p.m.

Hey Matt--the "Wolverine Brewing Coming Soon" sign is ready--you got a tall ladder?? Watch for it future tap room regulars--on the old Big George's sign next to the bike shop.

Matt Roy

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 2:09 p.m.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Matt Greff of Arbor Brewing also provided a ton of great advice along the way. Ron's name made it into the article, but Matt's didn't. Thanks go out to both of them -- they helped us avoid a lot of early pitfalls!


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 1 p.m.

I usually cast a suspicious eye at lagers, since most macro beers fall into that gendre. I find them to be too sweet. I can't wait until this place opens so I can sample some microbrewed ones. The Corner Brewery opened with no kitchen, allowing deliveries, but now has it's own kitchen. I though it was odd they'd choose to lose out on food profits. Perhaps Wolverine will evolve like that.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 12:53 p.m.

Ooo, the more I think about it...the more I like it. My husband and I could walk to the location from our house - bonus of beer + a bit of exercise to whittle away the belly.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 12:19 p.m.

Congratulations on having the foresight to open a microbrewery someplace other than downtown Ann Arbor. Perhaps this is the first step toward the long awaited microbrewery in Saline. It would be great to have one which we could walk to on a more frequest basis instead of driving to AA.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

We still miss Stadium Tavern. This pub sounds wonderful! Don't worry about the lack of a menu...the ability to bring one's own food or 'order in' is great for gatherings.

delete this profile

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 12:08 p.m.

Looking forward to the opening. Hopefully some outside seating can be made available in the summer. The people-watching won't be like downtown but you still can't beat sitting out in the sun with a cold one.

Atticus F.

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

I lived on west stadium in my younger years, and I remember constantly thinking someone should put a bar on west stadium. The closest bars I can think of are Cubs AC, and Frasiers...And thats not very close.

ET Crowe

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 11:26 a.m.

Cool Kids Lager? I like... How about: West Side Lager? maybe Swing a Dead Cat and Hit a Lager? whatddaya think Oliver?? Get on that, will ya? Can't wait to see you all at the tap room.... and you know our tailgate parties will ROCK!


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

Welcome to the west side! I hope you are planning a food menu for the future. Less likely to come in just for a drink.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

The "first" comment refers to brewing lager-style beer - because the vast majority of Michigan brewpubs focus on ales, he said.

Gina Valo

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:55 a.m.

This is great news!!! Can't wait to have a microbrewery in my backyard. It's about time the cools kids built something on the west side.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:44 a.m.

That's the cool thing; it won't BE a brewpub. I'm excited - this is ideal having it on this side of town.

David Bardallis

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

There's always room for more beer!

Paula Gardner

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:33 a.m.

Is near Great Lakes bike shop - the building is L-shaped and the Wolverine Space is towards the back - but still visible from Stadium.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:31 a.m.

Isn't the former Big George's where Great Lakes Cyclery was/is?


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:15 a.m.

@ Top Cat = YOU BET. Have you ever tried to get into any of the existing beer places on the weekend? This town could support 5 more of them if you put 'em in the right place. There's only one requirement: BREW GOOD BEER. I'm thrilled with the location.... I can walk. I do hope that the owners will eventually recognize the killing they could make with a food menu. But for now, I'm there!!


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

Wonder if the company from Colorado that they purchased their equipment from was Leopold's?


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 9:58 a.m.

I am so excited this is coming to the West Stadium coridor! A great location with lots of PARKING! Can't wait!


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 9:30 a.m.

Hot Sam said it. It'll be nice to be able to go to a brewpub and not have to deal with downtown.

Top Cat

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 8:29 a.m.

Best wishes to them but can Ann Arbor really support a fifth brewpub in the current economic climate?


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 8:26 a.m.

Sounds like a good addition to a part of town in need of an attraction. I hope the new brews turn out to be better than the original though.


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 8:23 a.m.

Sounds great! Way to go ET!

ET Crowe

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 8:08 a.m.

thanks for all your great words of support everyone! we are really excited about being a part of the Ann Arbor business and brewing community---watch for more news on our blogs! E.T. (The Beer Wench)

Hot Sam

Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

Wow! Good beer and free convenient parking...what a concept!!!


Thu, Jan 14, 2010 : 7:59 a.m.

Excellent! 'Twill be nice to have a pub that side of town (nothing right now except for restaurant bars - which aren't comfortable in the least/have a more frenetic vibe).