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Wolverine State Brewing Co expands, doubles barrel production

Wolverine State Brewing Co. is going big this year. The Ann Arbor-based craft brewery is in the midst of wrapping up an expansion project that includes an expanded kitchen space, additional brewing space, and a larger cooler.

"More beer, more space, more space to keep it cold," says Josh Evans, front of the house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co.

Wolverine State Brewing Co specializes in brewing lagers, a lighter style of beer that requires more time and energy to brew. Craft breweries usually stick to ales, stouts and porters because of the shorter brewing time and less demanding temperature requirements.

Wolverine State Brewing Co opened its tap room in 2010 in the back half of the old Big George's space on Stadium Boulevard. It has since expanded that space to accommodate food service and events. Last year it embarked on a 6,000-square-foot expansion to that it is just now putting the finishing touches on.

"We're in the home stretch of it right now," Evans says. "The last steps of the process are happening."

The kitchen expansion is a major component of the project. It is significantly larger to accommodate the brewery’s status as a destination to eat, drink and be merry. It will also give its growing staff of 20-some employees, including a handful of new hires, room to work more comfortably.

"It went from a little room to quite a big space," Evans says. "Our growing sales meant we needed a bigger kitchen space."

The craft brewery is also making a significant jump in its production capacity. Before its facilities could handle producing 2,200 barrels annually. When this project is done it will be able to handle a shade under 5,000 barrels a year. Work crews are in the process of installing new fermentation tanks this winter, which will accommodate several years of projected growth.

The newly expanded brewery will also enable the brewers to experiment with more flavors. In December it debuted a new seasonal brew called Vertl'avant, a lager brewed with Bartlett pears in oak chardonnay barrels. The brew was released as part of Wolverine State Brewing Co's five-year anniversary at the location.

"It gave it this very soft and tart taste to it," Evans says. "It's a bit of a departure of what we have done in the past. It was hugely popular."

Source: Josh Evans, front of the house manager for Wolverine State Brewing Co
Writer: Jon Zemke
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