As I drove to Northern Michigan from Asheville, I reflected on the change in direction our lives were taking. What was wrong with our life in Asheville that we needed to pack up and move? Why Northern Michigan, and why try to start a brewery in Eeva’s hometown? How would it be different, and what would we say?

In Asheville, I had the opportunity to brew a couple of hundred different recipes, to try a range of new malts and hops. I brewed with herbs, spices, bark, coffee, fruits, and many other different ingredients. I got to explore ingredients and styles and iterate, but this exploration was not untethered. I was brewing beers to be scaled, packaged, and pulled from the grocery store shelf. These beers had to be sold first to our distributors, then retailers, and chain accounts before they reached the consumer. Each beer had to check boxes that fit categories and trends. Consistency was key. Like those flawless stacks of apples or oranges, everything uniform from size and color to taste – nothing should stand out. 

A New Chapter

As I drove north, I thought about the future of our brewery. I want to make beer that is unique, alive, and connected. Beer that changes in the bottle and sometimes for the bottle. Beer that chases the best ingredients, even if they might be different every year or take an irresponsible amount of time to process. I want to make beer that might only loosely be called beer. That’s why we started calling Elder Piper’s products “Modern Fermented Beverages”. 

To make these modern beverages, I will have to give up control and unlearn some of the things I had internalized in my 12 years as a commercial brewer.

I hope I am up to the task. I hope we can work together to brew unique beers that reflect us, and embody our journey here in Northern Michigan.

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