The annual conference for the Michigan Brewers Guild held on Jan. 10 was a record breaker in many ways for the organization, with more than 750 attendees including nearly 130 vendors in the Allied Member Trade Show. The Guild also reported 256 member breweries at the close of 2018, up from 245 at the end of 2017. Here are some highlights.
New Board of Directors
Each board position is a two-year term, elected in alternating years. This year, three people were elected to the Guild board:
- Isaac Hartman, “Ambassador of Great Beer” from New Holland Brewing Company, was elected to his sixth term.
- Rick Schmitt, Co-Owner of Stormcloud Brewing in Frankfort, was elected to his first term after being appointed in April 2018 to fill a mid-term vacancy on the board.
- Aubrey Martinson, Co-Owner of Chelsea Alehouse in Chelsea, was elected to her first term.
Additional board members include:
- Scott Newman-Bale, Vice President of Short’s Brewing Company in Bellaire, continues his fifth term and remains the Guild’s President.
- Ryan Cottongim, Owner of Witch’s Hat Brewing Company in South Lyon, continues his second term and remains the Guild’s Vice President.
- David Ringler, Owner of Cedar Springs Brewing Company in Cedar Springs, continues his first term and remains the Guild’s treasurer.
- Chas Thompson, Beer Engineer at Schmohz Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, continues his first elected term after being appointed in 2017 to fill a mid-term vacancy on the board. He will remain the Guild’s secretary.
The Michigan Brewers Guild presented two key awards to industry leaders at its annual conference. Eric Briggeman of Rochester Mills Production Brewery (who served 14 years on the Guild board, including 10 years as President) was awarded with the esteemed Tom Burns Award. Steve Siciliano of Siciliano’s Market in Grand Rapids was presented with the Michigan Beer Champion Award.
The Tom Burns Award is given to a person who embodies the pioneering spirit of the Michigan brewing industry. Nominees can be brewery owners or employees, can be affiliated with a beer wholesaler or beer retailer or otherwise involved in the industry. Nominees can be part of the industry now or in the past and do not need to be currently living.
“It was really a special moment for me to present the Tom Burns award to Eric, my friend and colleague,” says Scott Graham, the Guild’s Executive Director, who presented the award. “While all of the nominees were very worthy of the award, I think Eric is particularly deserving of the honor due his selfless dedication to the industry and Guild for many years.”
These two first met in 1997 when Graham (as Corporate Brewmaster) hired Briggeman to oversee production at Big Buck Brewery & Steakhouse in Auburn Hills. During his years there, he worked with other fellow brewers like Alec Mull, Bill Wamby, Marty Rapnicki, Forrest Knapp, Rockne VanMeter and Kim Schneider. In 2005, Briggeman took a Head Brewer position at Rochester Mills Beer Co., a brewpub in downtown Rochester. By 2011, the brand was growing and Rochester Mills began to distribute their beers and Briggeman moved to a new production facility in Auburn Hills to head up brewery operations. Today, he serves as Vice President of Operations for the company.
“I am truly honored to have been even considered for the Tom Burns Award,” Briggeman said. “Those who have earned this award before me hold an incredible place in the history of craft beer in Michigan, and I am proud to be part of that group and part of that history. I dedicated my time and effort to the Michigan Brewers Guild because I am passionate about beer, and I whole-heartedly believe in the Guild’s mission and role in this industry. I look forward to seeing who will be part of the Board of Directors that leads this organization, and Michigan beer, through the next 20 years.”
The Michigan Beer Champion Award is given to a person or organization who is a partner of the industry and who continually strives to promote or protect the craft beer industry in Michigan. Nominees can be individuals, wholesalers, retailers, affiliated businesses or can be groups or organizations.
Guild board member Isaac Hartman, “Ambassador of Great Beer” from New Holland Brewing Company, presented this award to Siciliano’s General Manager Sarah Derylo, niece of owners Steve and Barb Siciliano.
“When I was asked to present the Michigan Beer Champion Award, I gladly accepted,” Hartman said. “I am so honored and humbled to present this award, because I like many, have been positively affected for the better by having known this person [Steve Siciliano].”
“Sarah was the first person I interviewed with for a job (a dishwasher position) at New Holland Brewing back in 2001,” Isaac continued. “It’s extra special to me personally, because without her I may not be where I am today.”
Sarah read a prepared statement from Steve:
“Needless to say, I am humbled and extremely appreciative to be the second recipient of this award. At the same time, I am well aware that there are many other folks in the craft beer industry who are just as deserving of this high honor.” His remarks continued with “I would like to recognize our current and past employees. Siciliano’s wouldn’t be the store it is today without their efforts.”