Crankers Brewery, Big Rapids, MI

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.
After I finished my burger, which was excellent by the way, Adam came back out to bring me for a tour of the brewhouse.  They were bottling so we couldn't go too far, didn't want to get in their way.  They have a fifteen barrel brew system, four fifteen barrel and two thirty barrel fermenters, a small bottling line that looked like was having a hard time keeping up.

Thanks to Adam for being so gracious and spending time with me and showing me around.  He told me that he would be able to host an outing for The MOB if we would be interested.  It's a bit of a drive but I think we should do it. 

The MOB Learn to Homebrew Day

We will have 10 - 15 experienced club brewers making various beers, using all grain, BIAB (Brew in a bag), partial mash and extract setups. It is our opportunity to teach new and perspective brewers a fun and rewarding hobby. Many award winning beers will be on hand to sample - make sure you bring a designated driver! Enjoy quality - but safely.

Please join us on Saturday, November 2, 2013 from 10am until 6pm for this event.  Thanks to Gary Evans for hosting this event.  The address is 12540 60th Avenue, Allendale, MI.