After a weekend of deer hunting near Baldwin, I decided to stop at Crankers Brewery in Big Rapids on my way home for lunch and a pint. I've had their beer before at the Winter Beer fest and the WGRD Beer Fest in John Ball Park but have not been to the brewery. My first impression when I arrived was confusion because the sign on the building read Crankers Coney Island. I went inside anyway and, sure enough, it was a coney dog restaurant. I asked the cashier if I was in the right place, I was. The brewery is attached to the restaurant through an archway.
Walk through the archway into the brewery and you enter a totally different, and wonderfully familiar, environment. The bar is a dark enameled concrete inset with small gears and rails. The taproom is quite large with a vaulted ceiling and the serving tanks are on a second floor balcony. I ordered a flight of Honey Kolsch, Professor IPA, Crankenstein Oktoberfest and Fifth Voyage Coconut Porter. All were very good and they are the four that have won awards for Crankers.
I ordered an olive burger as I sipped on my flight of beers and when it arrived so did Adam Mills, the brewmaster. He said he noticed my BN Army t-shirt and wanted to talk with me. We talked for a half hour about his transition from a teacher and home brewer to the head brewing position at Crankers. He told me that he used to drive 120 miles per day for his teaching position and when Crankers opened up only a couple miles from his house he had to do it. We also talked about how he was able to transition from a ten gallon homebrew setup to a fifteen barrel brewhouse. He said he kept the base malt proportionate but had to scale back on the specialty malts. Overall he says that brewing on the big system is actually easier than brewing on a home system. It's easier to clean and control, it's just bigger.
|Adam Mills in his brewhouse at Crankers.|