FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN BEERS AGO...
A few years ago on a Friday night, three brothers and their dad had a great idea. "Let's fill our new Christmas growlers with a beer we've never had, then hang out in a garage in the middle of winter until the beer's all gone." They had so much fun that they decided to do it again the next weekend - and the weekend after that - and the weekend after that. They began inviting friends to come along, dubbing the night "New Beer Friday". It was a fun night to look forward to, and there was only one rule: try a beer you've never tried before.
It didn't take long for New Beer Friday to become A THING. Every week, the growing number of pals gathered to drink beer, always making sure to try something different. New Beer Friday morphed into a weekly gathering, moving from the local corner bar to the houses of those who founded the weekly celebration of new brews. On any given Friday, you could find 20-30 people gathered in someone's home with their families in tow, sharing beer, playing cards, singing around a campfire, and enjoying the camaraderie created around the idea of trying a new beer.
Eventually, the brothers and their dad had another great idea. "You know what would be the ULTIMATE New Beer? A beer that doesn't exist yet. A beer that we brew. The newest of new beers!" On that Friday, on a stovetop somewhere in Portage, Michigan, The Oatbama Stout was born. The name, a play on the oatmeal stout they were brewing, was somewhat of a fluke. A few growlers later, they joked about how funny it would be to make a whole line of beers named after presidents. They chuckled at the thought, tossing around names like The Grill Clinton and The Lincoln Lager.
Later that night, one brother's wife had yet another great idea. When he told her about their new beer's name, and the others they'd come up with during a growler-induced brainstorm session, she laughed and suggested they open a brewpub called The Oval Office. It was a funny thought (she's got a marketing degree, is a graphic designer, and loves a good opportunity to flush out a theme), but she wasn't exactly...serious. Little did she know, a few years later, Presidential Brewing would be on its way to opening its doors and chasing a dream they didn't yet know existed.
When Jake Lohse couldn't get the idea of a brewpub called The Oval Office out of his head, he knew he had to pursue it. Every time he told someone about the idea, their eyes lit up, and they'd immediately begin tossing around beer names and Presidential-themed ideas. Jake purchased a "real" homebrew system from a fellow local homebrewer, and began to experiment with recipes in his garage. He joined homebrew clubs, scoured the internet for homebrew how-to's, and pored over books about the science of brewing. He even bought a fancy microscope to study yeast in his basement. There were recipe journals and malt bill spreadsheets, extensive research about hop varietals and the perfect glassware, and endless trips to Siciliano's and the Bell's General Store. Before he (or his wife) knew it, Jake was looking at real estate and drawing up ownership agreements, and Presidential Brewing was no longer a "maybe someday I'll..." sort of dream.
Now, four years after that fateful growler night, Jake and Kayleigh are the proud lessees of a building on Portage Road (complete with a mini golf course - yes, it's staying) that will morph into Presidential Brewing Company over the coming months. There are investors and architects and newspaper articles and Presidential t-shirts in 9 states (and counting!). This silly little "haha, maybe someday" dream has become a reality, thanks to the passion of a couple of beer lovers, and the incredible support and encouragement of hundreds of amazing folks in this community.
As we continue the journey to our grand opening and beyond, we hope you'll check back often for updates on our progress. You can follow along on Facebook for live video updates and progress reports, and click the BLOG tab at the top of this page to check in on what we're up to. We can't wait to welcome you to the latest addition to Southwest Michigan's bustling craft beer scene. Cheers!