29 Mar Craft brewers come together with same goal: Make great beer
MICHIGAN CITY — One is a former electrical construction project manager, one the ex-manager of a five-star restaurant and one a former bartender.
But they all have one thing in common: Making beer.
Next month’s Brewfest at Blue Chip Casino will feature many brewers just like Justin Reisetter (Hunter’s Brewing), Drew Fox (18th Street Brewery) and Steve Murray (Burn ’Em Brewing) — an eclectic group of craft beer connoisseurs serving an eclectic collection of brews.
A dedicated group of professionals that, when they aren’t making beer, enjoys drinking it.
“That’s part of the fun,” said Mike Lahti, head brewer of Figure Ei8ht Brewing. “We all love drinking each others’ beer. We aren’t here competing.”
This will be Figure Ei8ht’s third year at Brewfest – now in its fourth year – and its goal remains the same: Make great beer for everyone.
“And,” said Neil Davey, the company’s “purveyor of fate,” “make the community a little happier at the end of the day.”
Brewfest-goers will experience a wide-variety of flavors that organizers promise won’t disappoint. That’s because the brewers, like many craft brewers nationwide, aren’t shy about experimenting with ingredients.
Steve Mazylewski (Crown Brewing) makes a Java Porter with cold-brewed coffee, Michael Boshaw (Twisted K-8 Brewing) uses zest as a hop in his key-lime beer I Don’t Remember, and Kevin and Tracy Clark (Bulldog Brewing) have experimented with maple sap and Andes candies in their beers.
“The sky is the limit when it comes to craft brewing,” Kevin Clark said. “If you come to this, I’m sure you’ll find a beer you like. If you are open-minded and give it a try, you’ll find something.”
While some of the brewers haven’t been at it long, others have made it their life’s work.
Mazylewski has been brewing for 25 years. Among the beers he plans to bring to Brewfest is his Crown Brown – awarded the 2012 World Beer Cup for Best English Dark Mild at the “Olympics of beer competitions.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Murray and Burn ’Em co-owner Rob Austin have been in business for less than a year – although Murray has a brewing background.
The hometown crew attended last year’s Brewfest as home brewers and sold out in less than two hours.
“We are bringing nine to 10 beers this year,” Austin said. “We won’t run out this year.”
It will be a coming out party of sorts for the business, which just started selling its product this week.
“We are going to brew what we love and hopefully others will like it, too,” Austin said. “If you don’t think you like beer, you haven’t tried our beer.”