Regional brewing digest: Michigan Brewing in trouble

Still trying to pace myself to keep up with my notes, I present a quick roundup of beer news from our neighboring states.

Michigan Brewing Company in Webberville, MI (just east of Lansing) was evicted from its headquarters in May. Over the weekend, Kid Rock's beer company, American Badass beer, announced they were seeking another contract brewing partner. The venture by Kid Rock was intended to create up to 400 jobs in the singer's native state, and Michigan Brewing received over $720,000 in state tax credits. The Detroit Free Press reports that Michigan Economic Development Corp. spokesman Mike Shore said the company never collected on it.

Michigan Brewing had also been dropped from a bid to redevelop The Old Fire Hall in Fenton Michigan as a brewpub. Their website, Twitter and Facebook pages have not been updated since April.

Although the Kid Rock beer does indeed taste, according to reports, like badass, MBC has also been making Celis White, the beer by Belgian brewer Pierre Celis that introduced the Belgian White Ale style in the U.S., after he had brought the style back from history with his Hoegaarden. When I wandered by in 2003, the owners were very hospitable to this novice beer geek, pouring samples of everything they had on tap, and then giving bottles of beers that weren't on tap. However, they were never able to achieve distribution in the Chicago area.

Update: The auction house Williams & Lipton of Farmington, MI, has scheduled a June 20th auction for all of MBC's assets, including Brewing equipment, packing and filling, the restaurant, names and rights to MBC and Celis brands, even the phone number).

This story was first flagged by Beerpulse, which has been keeping a worried eye on an increasing number of brewers closing down in 2012, and wondering whether the craft beer bubble might be about to burst. Another regional brewery going under was Hub City Brewing of Stanley Iowa, between Waterloo and Dubuque. Co-owner Gloria Knoke told Beerpulse on May 30 that they were shut down during a legal battle with their bank.

Again, this was a brewer whose bottles had not penetrated further east than the Quad Cities area, but this Iowa native keeps hoping for more an better beer in his state. They had been operating for nearly five years, and were unusual in keeping a dry stout as part of their regular bottle lineup.

But speaking of the Quad Cities, there is some good news from there:

Bent River Brewing Co. of Moline, which opened in 1997 in a downtown dive bar – they just pushed the bar out 10 feet to get the brew works behind it, and took over the neighboring store front for seating – has opened a second microbrewery in Rock Island, according to the Quad City Times. The new site is a former car wash at 24th St. and 5th Ave.; you'll pass it heading for the Rock Island Arsenal and its turntable bridge over the Mississippi River. The new site already has a tasting room and drive-up coffee bar, and will begin pouring its own house beers shortly.

And a former head brewer at Bent River, Richard Nunez, is opening his own nanobrewery, to be called Against the Grain Brewery & Alehouse , at 1340 31st St., Rock Island, in the Hilltop neighborhood. Slated to open sometime this month, Nunez plans to keep two taps running his his own beers, plus eight guest taps. Patrons will be able to bring in food from neighboring restaurants. Don't if they're keeping the name long, considering that Louisville, KY-based Against the Grain is now in the Chicago market. Yes, I have a boring personal story here, too: that's just around the block from Tim's Corner, where I bought all my comics the year I was living in Rock Island.

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