A new craft brewery and tasting room run by two local teachers, Pileated Brewing Co., has opened at 2290 Industrial Highway in Ann Arbor.
Andrew Collins and Jay Howe were shooting for an early June opening, but red tape held them up for several weeks. The two opened their doors to the public on Thursday, Aug. 3.
Both co-owners had experience with home brewing before they met at Huron High School. They started attending Ann Arbor Brewers Guild meetings and hatched an idea to create a very small microbrewery. They named it Pileated Brewing, after the woodpeckers of the same name, because the two owners are both redheads like the birds.
Because the two are keeping their teaching jobs as well as doing all the work from brewing to pouring at the tasting room, their hours are limited: 5-10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
"We'll probably expand the hours as we go," Howe says. "We might start by having later hours on Saturday and see how that goes." The co-owners say they will also tweak their hours to accommodate pre-game sales for tailgating when University of Michigan games are on.
Howe and Collins say they aren't overly concerned about setting themselves apart in the microbrew scene.
"Craft beer is still very strong," Howe says. "Everybody always wants new beer."
The menu currently consists of a couple of IPAs, a porter, a stout, and a red beer. They say they like to create recipes based on "the drinking experience" rather than trying to imitate certain popular styles of beer. For instance, "The Morrigan" is a smoky red beer that defies categories.
"It's not a Scotch ale, and it's not red ale, but more of a hybrid," Collins says. "It's one of our most talked-about beers, and we're selling a lot of it. People are feeling us."
Pileated Brewing's tasting room can only accommodate 35 people, but that's because Collins and Howe's focus is on having their beers distributed at local markets, rather than running a full-scale tap room. No food is served aside from a few packaged foods like popcorn, though patrons are invited to bring in their own takeout.
Collins says he and Howe have talked to local Whole Foods and Plum Market stores about carrying Pileated brews, and Lucky's market and some local party stores have shown an interest in carrying the brand.
The two say that in the future they are hoping to get a license for outdoor seating and to run some educational events, such as having an outside caterer bring in food and teaching customers how to pair beer with food.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Sarah Rigg.