At first Greg "Gonzo" Haner wanted to locate his brewing company somewhere there would not be a lot of competition. But he was advised that downtown Kalamazoo could become a craft brew mecca if he was one of those who opened up there.
Now Haner and his partner have signed a lease at the former Mazda showroom at the corner of Michigan and Westnedge avenues and are preparing for a fall 2013 opening of Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Company. Kevin Hyde will be assistant brewer.
The fall opening will give them time to renovate the space for an 8,000-square-foot brew house and a 2,500-square-foot tap house that will seat up to 125. The $1.5 million renovation project will create room for a 15 barrel system to produce beer for both the brew house and local distribution, with the intention of adding a bottling line as soon as the financing is in place. An outdoor patio also is planned.
Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co.
expects to open with up to 25 people.
Southwest Michigan First and Downtown Kalamazoo, Inc. helped the project come together.
The brewery will have its own signature beer and a large variety of different kinds of beers, Haner says. "We are working with farmers to source as much from Michigan as we can, including the wheat and some top-secret ingredients we will use to make beer like you’ve never tasted."
Partner and General Manager Brian Hill says the food produced at the brewery will feature fresh, locally produced items that will complement the beer offerings. "The food will exist to enhance the beer drinking experience," says Hill. "We will use different items from the brewing process in breads and pizza crusts and focus on fresh local ingredients."
Hill once owned the Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast and he met Haner when they both helped open Olde Peninsula Brewpub, downtown Kalamazoo's first the brewpub.
Haner has been brewing beer for 20 years and is probably best known as the brewmaster behind the line of beers offered at Olde Peninsula in downtown Kalamazoo. He has helped Bravo! restaurant with its brewing efforts and has consulted with many start-up breweries. He also formulated, brewed, bottled and documented inventory beer for major beer products at Kalsec.
He decided to move ahead with Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co. when silent investors approached him. "They had heard my reputation and were familiar with the beers at Olde Peninsula. They liked my idea for a brewing company and I told them I would love to do it."
Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Greg "Gonzo" Haner, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co.