beer

Taylor Wizner / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, hear how Michigan hops farmers are struggling to keep up with the craft beer boom. Plus, a look ahead on the future of the Traverse City Pit Spitters baseball team.

Five years ago hops were in high demand in Michigan, so farmers started experimenting with the crop. However, as beer tastes changed and breweries went looking for the next new thing, many northern Michigan hop farmers have been unable to make ends meet.

Taylor Wizner

 

Tubing down a river on a hot summer day is one of Michigan’s most popular pastimes. But after years of alcohol-fueled floats, the National Forest Service banned alcohol on the Au Sable, Manistee and Pine rivers.

 

The Forest Service has since backed off that ban due to public outcry. In its place, conservation officers have pledged to educate river users and ramp up law enforcement.

 

Now the question is, will it work?

 

Relaxing on the river

As Michigan's brewing industry continues to grow and flourish, we're seeing a big jump in growing hops in our state.

Consider this: Prior to 2008, Michigan hadn't had a commercial hops-growing operation for more than a century. Now, we're fourth in the nation.

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Do women drink beer? It's a dumb question to be sure, but watching any random assortment of beer commercials, one might start to wonder. After all, the vast majority of beer marketing revolves around men: men watching football, men laughing at jokes, men saying "whassup."

To Ginger Johnson, the founder of Women Enjoying Beer, and the author of the book How to Market Beer to Women: Don't Sell Me A Pink Hammerthe tendency of beer marketing to ignore women is not only insulting. It's also a bad business strategy.

Shorts Brewery to expand outside Michigan

Jan 29, 2016
Shorts Brewing Company

Shorts Brewing Company announced Thursday it will ship beer out-of-state for the first time. Next month, the brewery will expand operations into Illinois and Pennsylvania.

Shorts has always prided itself on being a “Michigan-only” brewery. But Chief Financial Officer Brian Beckwith says the company has grown since it opened in 2004.

“We got to a point where, after 12 years of thinking Michigan could consume all of the beer that we could brew, we started to wonder if that was true,” says Beckwith.

Beer is big in Michigan. The state is fifth in the nation for its number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs. This growth is creating a demand for workers to brew, serve and market all of that beer.

Schoolcraft College is launching a new brewing program this fall to help turn out those workers.

Rich Weinkauf is the Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at Schoolcraft College in Livonia. And he’ll be teaching one of the courses in the new brewing and distillation technology certificate program.

The craft beer industry in the U.S. is on the rise. According to the Brewers Association, craft beer sales in the states grew 17.6% in 2014, and the number of craft breweries in Michigan has increased 51% since 2011.

With so many people jumping into the game, how’s a beer supposed to stand out?

There are now more than 200 licensed breweries in Michigan. And that is starting to change the rural landscape up north.

This month, an investment group in Traverse City finalized plans to plant up to 400 acres of hops. That would roughly double the amount of hops now growing in Michigan.

And it signals the arrival of big investors into the business.

You may have noticed a trend clinking around on the shelves of your local liquor store: More and more fancy craft beer is showing up in aluminum cans.