Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tecumseh Brewing Company- Ahead of the New Brewery Curve

Written by  Erik Smith
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techomsy brewing article 

With microbrewries opening around the state in record numbers, the experience of Tecumseh Brewing Company’s founders have put them ahead of the usual learning curve.
The partnership of Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt seems to be the perfect combination for opening a brewery. DeWitt, the General Manager, has over a decade of experience in well-reputed bars, breweries and restaurants, including Ann Arbor’s Blue Tractor and Lodi Brewing Company in California. His experience in special events planning seems to match perfectly with the frenetic pace of a much anticipated brewery opening, like that of Tecumseh.

Schmidt had a similar pedigree for his job as head brewer. He started his brewing career with a stint at Ann Arbor’s Grizzly Peak, and then attended the renowned Seibel Institute of Brewing Science & Technology in Chicago. Upon returning to Michigan, he took the job as head brewer at The Blue Tractor, and frequently received accolades for the beers he brewed.

As with all new Michigan microbrewies, their opening was delayed for a number of months while waiting on permits and construction. The owners purchased and rehabbed the building in downtown Tecumseh, at 128 West Chicago. They also followed a much different crowdfunding campaign than most other breweries, opting to go through Localstake. What separates Localstake from other crowdfunding options, such as Kickstarter, is that people who donated to the brewery became investors in the business, complete with revenue sharing payments. The partners set their goal of raising $175,000, and did it in half the time they’d allotted for the campaign- 45 days instead of 90. Raising the money wasn’t the end of story for these two entrepreneurs. They had to lobby Lansing and have some of the laws governing this type of investor based crowdfunding changed to allow for them to move forward. This led to a few more delays. Another difference using Localstake was that all investors, even those pledging the minimum investment of $250, needed to have financial background checks done.

The soft opening of Tecumseh Brewing Company took place on April 20th, with the doors being opened to the public on April 22nd. Schmidt & DeWitt are both from the area, so the community had been anticipating the opening, and had greeted it with the enthusiasm that was expected. When I visited on Saturday the 25th, Schmidt’s wife, Joanna, and his brother, Ben, were opening the brewery. Both were enthusiastic about the business, noting that the support for the community had been incredible.

Schmidt’s talents as a brewer were immediately noticeable. Some new breweries, especially those coming from a solely homebrewing background, take a while to get used to brewing on a larger scale. This is not the case at Tecumseh. The plan is to have at least 12 beers on tap, and possibly more when the small batch beers are available. Of the many impressive beers I tried was a golden stout called A Finer Temptress, which was rich with a pleasant touch of coffee, and Not Yer Average Joe Roggenbier, a Bavarian style with a pleasant amount of rye malt and hefeweizen-style yeast character. When asked what beers had been most popular so far, Schmidt mentioned the Rocket IPA- a beer named after a bar that occupied their building in the 1960s, and wonderfully hopped with Cascade, Chinook, Columbus and Crystal hops.

Tecumseh Brewing Company features a full kitchen, which serves a nice assortment of both unique and traditional pub snacks, but also sandwiches and burgers. The group I visited with were all incredibly impressed with their meals. Their hours are Monday through Saturday from 11AM- Midnight Monday through Saturday and Noon to Midnight on Sunday.
 
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 http://onmyfeetorinmymind.com/