HILLSDALE, Mich. (WLNS) – The craft beer industry has been booming in Michigan over the past decade, and now it’s finally coming to Hillsdale County.
By: Aaron Dimick

6 News has the buzz on the first two microbreweries to open in the county.

A Victorian-era building at the corner of Hillsdale Street and Carleton Road in downtown Hillsdale has a rich history.

“It was built in the late 1800s as a hotel/saloon brothel,” said Felicia Finch, manager of the Hillsdale Brewing Company.

And now with eight craft beers on tap and a full menu, it serves as the county's first microbrewery, the Hillsdale Brewing Company.

“Our dinners have been really good, weekends have been good,” Finch said.

They started serving suds in January.

Finch manages the brewery, which was crafted by her family and friends.

She says they were excited to bring this increasingly popular drink option to the area.

“A lot of people are just enjoying not having to venture all the way to Adrian, Kalamazoo or Jackson to go to a brewery,” Finch said.

And later this year, beer lovers will have more reasons to stay local.

About five miles north in Jonesville, a different group of brewers are working on a big vision for a small brewery.

An 18 foot wide alley in downtown Jonesville is the future home of the Ramshackle Brewing Company.

It’s a creation of friends Zack Bigelow and Joe Kesselring, who have been brewing together for eight years.

“We decided, let's take it to the next step,” Bigelow said.

Breaking ground in April and opening this fall, they’ll have room for brewing equipment and up to 50 beer drinkers.

“Everyone’s like, ‘How are you going to fit all your stuff in there?’ Don't worry, it's bigger than it looks from the road,” Kesselring said.

Ramshackle will brew a taste of the past, focusing on producing pre-Colonial era beers.

“Beer wasn't crystal clear. Beer had flavor. Beer had local ingredients. That's what we want to strive to do is utilize Hillsdale County in our beers,” Bigelow said.

Compared to other communities in Michigan, craft beer is seeing a late arrival to Hillsdale.

Bigelow says the recession hit the area hard, and that most likely prevented people from investing in this growing industry.

They’re excited to attract craft beer fans who will travel far and wide for a good brew.

“We’re not that far from the current Michigan beer trail so we'd be looking to get in on that. So yeah, I think it will do great things for the town, bring a lot of people in,” Kesselring said.

The Hillsdale Brewing Company welcomes Ramshackle, saying two breweries are better than one.

“Breweries bring people out. So they’ll pick a new town to go to and if they can make two stops in one trip, even better,” Finch said.
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