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Jolly Pumpkin

3115 Broad Street
Dexter, MI 48130

Ron Jeffries

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales production jumped for a number of reasons when it opened its new brewery in Dexter two years ago. Many if those reasons were fairly typical, such as more space to brew more beer and the upward trend in local craft beer sales. But the biggest reason wasn’t so obvious.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is also the production house for Traverse City-based North Peak Brewing Co. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales production has essentially doubled over the last few years due to growth in its own signature brews and increased demand for North Peak Brewing Co's product.

"We anticipate an awful lot of growth in the North Peak brand because we have so much more room for growth," says Ron Jeffries, founder of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.

Jeffries described Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales beers as a niche product, typically served in larger bottles and sold at premium prices. Its signature brews like Oro de Calabaza and La Roja have won a wide range of awards and even garnered recognition from The New York Times.

Contrast that with North Peak Brewing Co's beers, which Jeffries describes as more traditional craft beers. Its Diabolical IPA and Siren Amber are more in the mold of main stream wheat beers and IPAs that are commonly found in beer coolers next to six packs from Arbor Brewing Co and Atwater Brewing Co. Consumers usually have to search a little bit longer to find Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales' beers, which are usually sold individually on room-temperature shelves.

There is more to the partnership between Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and North Peak Brewery than just raw numbers. The owners of the two brands have a friendship that goes back several decades. Before Jeffries launched Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, he worked as the head brewer at the Grisly Peak brewpub in downtown Ann Arbor. The co-founders of North Peak Brewing Co were also partners at Grisly Peak Brewing Co.

"I have known Johnny for almost 20 years now," Jeffries says. "We wanted to work together for a long time and this was a good way to do it."

North Peak Brewing Co is a brew pub in downtown Traverse City (check) that had become an institution in the cherry capital of the world since it opened. Its founders and Jeffries knew there was a demand for its beers beyond the walls of the brew pub.

"The North Peak brew pub has a great reputation in Michigan and Chicago," Jeffries says.

North Peak Brewing Co's co-founders encouraged Jeffries to handle the retail production end of North Peak Brewery’s beers. They made a deal where they sold a piece of land in Traverse City to Jeffries so he could open his own brewpub there while Jeffries would handle the retail production of North Peak Brewing Co’s ales from his brewery's new facility in Dexter.

Jeffries adds that he took on this partnership because he had such a long-standing relationship with North Peak Brewing Co's co-founders. He helps with other brewery's projects all the time, but only entered into the North Peak Brewing Co partnership because he is so close to them.

"It (being business partners) can be a lot harder than a marriage," Jeffries says. "We are different." He adds, "We had known each other for a long time and we were good friends. It was a good plan."

Today Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales brews 9,000 barrels last year. A little more than half of those are North Peak Brewing Co’s beers. Next year Jeffries expects to break the 10,000 barrel mark thanks to growing demand for both brands.

"Now we're poised for even more growth," Jeffries says.

- Written by Jon Zemke

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