Mark Rieth sees his company, Atwater Beer
, as Detroit’s brewery. It's a big vision for the microbrewery situated on Detroit's east riverfront, but it’s an ambition with increasing merit as the 17-year-old venture grows.
"Being Detroit's brewery is important for us," Rieth says. "We want to be the iconic Detroit brewery, the way Stroh's used to be in the late 1800s and early 1900s."
Rieth wants Atwater to be known for local brews that are both high-quality and ubiquitous. Atwater Brewery is well on its way to both of those targets. It doubled its sales over the last year and is on pace to do it again. It sold 12,000 barrels in 2012 and 26,000 barrels last year. It's on track to sell 45,000 to 50,000 barrels in 2014 with sales of Dirty Blonde and Vannila Java Porter leading the way.
Atwater Brewery is at capacity at its main brewing facility at the corner of Atwater and Jos Campau streets, and is in the process of adding more brewing capacity there. The company is also a partner at the Brew Detroit
operation in Corktown, which has helped it up its keg distribution.
"We have tripled our sales of Dirty Blonde kegs," Rieth says. "It's not slowing down anytime soon."
That has enabled Atwater Brewery to hire a dozen people over the last year, including brewers, sales professionals, and office staff. It now has a staff of 36 employees and one intern. It also recently opened a brewpub in Grosse Pointe Park in June, creating another 28 jobs. Atwater in the Park
has proven so successful that Rieth is still looking at opening a tap room in downtown Detroit.
"That should happen within the next 12 months," Rieth says. "It will be downtown proper. Anywhere between the Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park areas."
Atwater Brewery is also entertaining the idea of expanding beyond Metro Detroit. Rieth is considering options in places like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Traverse City. Although no specific plans have been made, the idea is appealing to Rieth.
"It's something we would like to do if the right opportunity presented itself," he says.
Source: Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke