Monday, March 09, 2015

Saint Clair Shores Welcomes Community Focused Brewery: Baffin Brewing

Written by  Erik Smith
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Baffin Brewing is Saint Clair Shores is a community focused brewery, like so many in Michigan’s thriving microbrewery scene. Since it’s opening in January, they have been delighting their customers with good beer and a welcoming, communal space.
The building on Jefferson, just north of 10 Mile Road, has a long history in this lakefront suburb. Built in the early 1900s, it was home to Bennett’s Market, a well-known east side staple. More recently it was used as a boat repair shop before being transformed into its current use as a brewery and tap room. The brewing equipment sits in view of patrons and the walls display photography by local artist Christyn McClure.

Co-owners Joe Dowd & Evan Feringa got their start as homebrewers at Michigan State in the latter part of the last decade, and Feringa even served as an assistant brewer at Warren’s Dragonmead Microbrewery in preparation for opening their own place. As with many of the new breweries opening in Michigan, opening up shop wasn’t that easy. “We certainly saw our share of delays,” says co-owner Joe VanderMarlie with a knowing grin. The delays included a name change, but through it all the logo stayed the same. The name Baffin comes from a Bernese Mountain dog Evan once owned.

According to VanderMarlie, their Mango Pale Ale has been the most popular beer, with the Roth IPA running a close second. Many of the beers have creative names, including Pam Amberson, Heffenwolf, Berry White, and Bob Barley, an imperial stout brewed with Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, one of the most sought after types of coffee in the world. This smooth drinker was a favorite of our group.

The community’s reaction to Baffin has been incredible, with most nights featuring standing room only crowds. The beers proved so popular that Baffin had to close briefly after only two weeks, just to get caught up on demand. “You never realize, until you open, how quickly beer goes,” Joe VanderMarlie told me when I asked about the demand.

Despite having just opened, the owners have some plans for the future. They plan on offering plastic howlers and growlers when the weather gets warmer. This is ideal for taking on boats- another community focused idea, since Saint Clair Shores is a big boating community. They also plan on adding capacity to their current 5 barrel system, with 3 more fermenters and a bright tank on the way. Barrel-aging is another part of the future plans, as the chardonnay barrels located around the tap room attest to.

With the community focus and good beer and tap, there’s very little doubt that residents of Detroit’s east side and suburbs can expect big things in the future from Baffin.
Erik Smith

Erik Smith

Erik Smith is a relative newcomer to craft beer, having first been turned on to the scene by a chance encounter with "The End of The World" (Unibroue's La Fin du Monde) during the summer of 2011. Since then, he has increased that love of beer by serving as the 'un-official' photographer for the many beer events at Ashley's in Westland, MI. His goal is to visit every Michigan brewery. An avid traveler, beer tourism has played a prominent role in his travels since 2012. 

Find him on Untapped at eriksmithdotcom and at his blog at