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Posted on Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Wolverine State Brewing Co. to expand tap room and brewing capacity

By Lizzy Alfs


Wolverine State Brewing Co. plans to expand its tap room to include a separate rental room and overflow space in 2012.

Ryan Stanton |

Wolverine State Brewing Co. has its sights set on expansion for 2012.

This year, the company plans to expand its roughly 2,000-square-foot tap room to include a rental space for up to 60 people, expand its brewing capacity, distribute its products in the Grand Rapids market and roll out new beer.

Wolverine Brewing occupies about 6,000 square feet in the former Big George’s Home Appliance Mart building on West Stadium Boulevard at 2019 W. Stadium Blvd., which opened in November 2010.

Ann Arborites Matt Roy and Trevor Thrall founded the company in 2006 and they first began producing beer in Roy’s basement.


The company currently occupies 6,000 square feet in the former Big George's Home Appliance Mart on West Stadium Boulevard.

Ryan Stanton |


Marketing director Crowe calls 2,000-square-foot tap room a "hugely popular" gathering space.

Ryan Stanton |

Wolverine Brewing found its niche making only lager beers, which are sold across the state under the flagship Wolverine Premium Lager and Wolverine Dark Lager brand.

After producing 35 barrels in its first year, the company’s goal for 2012 is 1,200 barrels, up from 800 barrels in 2011.

As part of the expansion this year, the company plans to take an additional 850 square feet of the warehouse for an “overflow” tap room and rental space.

“I field, every week, several requests to rent the entire space,” said E.T Crowe, the company’s marketing director. “Everything from wedding receptions to huge office holiday parties.”

Rather than shut the doors to the public during these events, she said it made sense to create a separate room that people can rent. When it’s not being used, it would be an overflow tap room for customers.

Part of the project would include reconfiguring the bathrooms, building a back hallway and adding a service window from the main tap room to the new space, which will have its own bar. There will also be space for caterers.

Wolverine Brewing has also become an unofficial hangout for foosball players, Crowe explained. The owners recently purchased two competition-level foosball tables that will be located in the overflow space.

The expansion will also include increasing the company’s brewing capacity by 270 barrels. They plan to build a malt room so they can grind their own malt, and add three thirty-barrel fermentation vessels by the end of 2012.

Crowe explained the company’s distribution plans for the next few years as barrel capacity increases, with a goal of opening the market in Grand Rapids in 2012, the Kalamazoo and Flint areas in 2013 and Detroit in 2014.

Other goals for 2012: Roll out an array of “experimental and extreme” lagers and make a Wolverine Amber Lager available on store shelves and in bars and restaurants.

One of the new lagers to look out for this year is an Imperial Black India Pale Lager, Crowe said, which is aged in bourbon barrels for nearly a year.

She said much of the company’s success is due to its loyal following and the “hugely” popular gathering space.

“People love it,” she said. “There are lots and lots of regulars and parties. We kill it during tailgate season. There are lots of folks who like to think of it as their local bar, which is what we wanted.”

Reflecting on the company’s decision to open on Ann Arbor’s west side, Crowe said the location couldn’t be better.

“We positioned ourselves there for two reasons: It’s the west side and there is nothing like this there, and it’s within a mile of the stadium. Football season for us is huge. Always has been, always will be," Crowe said.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Thu, Feb 2, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

@Lizzy Did E.T. Crowe really take credit for purchasing those two new foosball tables? If she did, that's really not cool. Those tables were purchased by the foosball community, not Wolverine.

thomas siterlet

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

Great place -I've been a regular since opening day! It's been a long time since this end of town has had a place to hang with good people & great brews. Matt, E.T. & the crew deserve praise aplenty for a great operation. Decades of constant success to them!!!!


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

I wish that they would change the name Wolverine sounds so ghetto!

ron swanson

Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

@xmo, They thought about naming it Zima, but then figured you'd be their only customer.

David Paris

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

If you think that "Wolverine State" sounds ghetto, then I think you need to look for another state!


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Yeah, Buckeye Brewing Company has a better ring to it ;-)


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

A side-effect of our state being home to so many successful microbreweries is that all the good names were taken.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

I love this place. Good beer, good laid back atmosphere, free parking, comfortable seating arrangements. Whenever visitors come they ask to go here as they love it too. It's not pretentious or stuck up like most places in Ann Arbor.

Top Cat

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

The reason they are successful is because they have covered all the basics. They know who their customers are. They have excellent products. They are very effective at marketing themselves. I'm thirsty and overdue to go back there.

Hot Sam

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

It has definitely become my local pub... Along with excellent beer, it is refreshing to have a place that is not a restaurant. You can actually get some peanuts, and not be forced in to some high rent appetizer menu! Free parking, great people...keep up the good work you guys!!!

Hot Sam

Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

SMC...You have more restaurant options than you can shake a stick can order a pizza, bring in a sandwich... The minute a place becomes a restaurant, they quadruple their costs, bureaucracy they have to deal withe etc. and when they do, they eliminate wonderful things like peanuts and force you in to some spinach and artichoke dip or other such nonsense... It is our only brewery that is truly a "pub", and I for one hope it stays that way. Keep in mind, I also love to go downtown for a beer and a meal :-)


Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

On the other hand, I think the reason I've only been there once (for the grand opening) is that they don't serve food. Because WSBC is located somewhere other than downtown, it's not my first choice for a night at the bar, and without a full menu, it's not a "destination," either. Their beer is solid, but I do think that a menu (even a small one) of good quality pub food would do wonders for their business.

Rod Johnson

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

There's a lot to like about WSB, but I wish it was a little more comfortable--the concrete floors make it a little too cold and a little too noisy. (I haven't been in for quite a while, though--they might have upgraded some.)


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 2:45 p.m.

Great business! Great news!


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

4.50 for a glass of beer?

David Bardallis

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

"I remember when an ice cream cone was a nickel..."


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Yes, for a local, really good glass of beer. If you don't want to pay it don't go. Don't be such a poop, celebrate the fact that a local brewery is doing so well.

Hot Sam

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

@JGS...Ditto on the Shorts, and while your up there, hit the Right Brain in TC!!!


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:12 p.m.

$4.50 is cheap for a 20oz beer. Especially GOOD beer. @Jack Gladney - You made me laugh with your Pabst comment, exactly what I was thinking!! Bravo sir! If you ever get a chance to go to the Short's Brewing Co. in Bellaire, do it! They make some of the best Michigan ONLY beer.

Hot Sam

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

You need to get out more...and join the Mug Club, and it's an even better deal!!!

Jack Gladney

Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

"4.50 for a glass of beer?" Jesus also invented 6-packs of Pabst for those inclined to stay at home and get hammered.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

You can get their beer in three sizes and that would be for the largest (I think 20 oz.) Their beer is cheaper than the other microbrews in our area.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

Ditto, and to E.T.


Sat, Jan 21, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

A couple of local entrepreneurs start a new business, find some success, find ways to expand that business and to reclaim a previously unattractive industrial space and repurpose it successfully. They do a good job with that, and have demand that causes them to need to expand again! Huzzah for Matt and Trevor!