I was able to steal some time recently and had the opportunity to visit Paw Paw Brewing Co. The tasting room can be found in what used to be a coffee shop. For as small as the building is, it is amazing that they fit as much inside as they do. Seating is rated at 75, but they also house the pilot system and its fermentation vessels as well as a walk in beer/ kitchen cooler.
While at the tasting room I ended up having a sampler of the St. James Mild, Bronco Brown, Black River Oatmeal Stout, and Twisted Pumpkin. The standout for the sampling was the pumpkin, even more so when I did a quick mix of the pumpkin and the stout. The mix really brought the spices to the front end and made for a great beer.
They have been growing hops around their beer garden. Centenniel and Cascade are the fresh hops added to their harvest ale. When you are thinking of fresh hops for a harvest it doesn’t get much fresher than right outside the brewery door.
Paw Paw Brewing was the dream of Ryan Sylvester and Ben Fleckenstein. Of the brother in laws Ryan had been a home brewer for 5 years before they opened their doors in 2010. After doing most of their brewing on their Sabco system at the tasting room during their first year, they were able to expand into their production brew house (a 6.5 barrel system in a seperate location). It is at their production brewhouse that they fill their kegs, which are distributed throughout South West Michigan.
Where the tasting room is fairly small, they have room to grow in the production brewhouse. With plans to bring in a bottling line it won’t take long to fill up the space in here.
Their hot liquor tank and brew kettle are direct fired. But with good process design they are able to get at least two brews out in short order on brew days.
The 4 fermentation tanks are linked to a glycol system ensuring good temperature control throughout the process. Although I did not manage to catch them during a brew session, I did manage to catch Trevor (one of the brewers) cleaning out kegs, so they can keg up one of their currently full tanks.
The beers are definately worth traveling to the source to sample. If you can’t make it to Paw Paw look for them at your local.
Time for a pint…