Corktown is Detroit’s mom-and-pop hub, both the oldest neighborhood in the city and a thriving pocket of small businesses. On and around Michigan Avenue, just west of downtown, relative newcomer Batch Brewing Company stands alongside old-guard establishments like factory-turned-bookstore John K. King Books. Add in some prime housing stock and the rise of Assemble Sound’s collaborative space for musicians, and you’ve got the American Dream, Detroit-style.
How did you decide to start Batch Brewing Company?
After moving from the 'burbs and not being able to homebrew, I was looking for a home for my hobby. When I couldn't find the right location for a homebrewing coworking space concept, I decided to open a nanobrewery. Following a crowdfunding campaign and winning a business incubator context called Hatch Detroit, we had some momentum and resources to get our doors open.
What’s been the most challenging part of starting a business?
The toughest part of opening Batch Brewing Company was the buildout of our space and the expectations from the public on a timeline. It was definitely a DIY project, and that included the entire build-out… and when you do it yourself, time moves on its own accord, regardless of anyone's expectations, including your own.
What advice would you give to someone starting a business of their own?
The most important thing you can do as a new business owner is to find a mentor - or three. Someone has done every part of your business before you, and most are willing to help you avoid the mistakes they made. Avoidable mistakes hurt the worst in hindsight, so, um, avoid them. Go into business planning with no ego. You have some info, certainly. Don't convince yourself you know everything. You don't. Get outside opinions. Lots of them.
What was your vision for the Batch Brewing Company space? How did you bring it to life?
We wanted to make sure Batch Brewing Company was a place people could come together over great beer and food and celebrate the simple things in life - friends, family, and meeting new people. We don't have any TVs. If you really need a screen to find out the score, you have one in your pocket. In the meantime, looking people in the eye while you're talking is an underrated experience. We're happy to do our part to bring it back. In addition, keeping the aesthetic simple and comfortable, communal and flexible, all were priorities. We have outdoor seating and private rental areas available, but all revolve around having a shared experience with the other people around you.
Tell us about the Feelgood Tap. How did that get started?
The Feelgood Tap started as an initiative at Batch Brewing Company, but has since turned into a 501c3. It was important that we added some sort of value to our neighborhood, other than converting an abandoned building into a functional space. We refer to it as altruistic capitalism: we should be able to be successful while we make some type of positive impact on our community. We knew that the idea was big and might even one day become bigger than the brewery. It was always a part of our business plan, and has grown into something that actually might be able to create some change.
Where do you find inspiration for new beers at Batch?
Inspiration is everywhere! Food, other beer, wine, spirits, local ingredients. The beer world is dynamic, and just like music, it's all been played before. Very rarely do you discover a truly unique idea. Interpreting and paying homage to traditions, but experimenting on the edges of styles? Looking for balance with every beer we make? Making sure that we highlight every ingredient in beer, not just hops? Those are some of the questions we ask ourselves whenever we write a new recipe.
Your beers have some pretty clever names. What’s your process for naming them?
Oh, naming beers. It's like how I imagine sketch comedy is written: we bounce ideas off each other and riff on the ridiculous. Sometimes, there's an idea that's obvious. Other times, we come up with a stinker. But it's fun, usually irreverent, and some of the most fun we get to have with the creative process. And for us? Nothing is more fun than making fun of the misogyny in beer. What outdated nonsense.
Other than Batch, what are a few of your personal go-to spots around town?
My personal go-to spots? Gotta give a shout to some other Hatch siblings - La Feria, Detroit Institute of Bagels, and Sister Pie. But I also love Mudgie's, Abick's, Taqueria El Rey, Lupita's, and Supino. There are so many new spots opening, it's hard to keep up - especially when you spend most of your time at your own establishment. Selden is legit. Chartreuse is inspired. But my favorite one-two right now is in Hazel Park: dinner at Mabel Gray and drinks at Cellarmen's. I should do that again soon.
What’s next for Batch Brewing Company?
We're in the middle of some exciting growth right now. If all goes according to plan (which rarely happens), we'll have a cellar facility going online in the next six months that will help us increase our production significantly. And I wouldn't be surprised if another retail operation followed.
Describe Detroit in five words.
Detroit in 5 words? No can do. Detroit is a complex condition. New residents need to be willing to try and understand the historic changes happening in this historic city. It's full of challenges and opportunity, but becoming part of this community requires engagement in the community. It's not like moving to Chicago, getting a job, and quietly doing your own thing. You move here and you definitely need to be ready to roll up your sleeves. But before you dig in and start your grandiose project or idea? Start by getting to know your neighbors. Make sure it can have a positive impact on them, too. A long-term healthy future for Detroit requires opportunities for everyone, especially the long-time residents of Detroit.