On Thursday of last week, Old Mill Brewpub in Plainwell, MI, tapped its Wooden Shoe Wheat for the first time. Owner Scott Zylstra opened his brewpub in February, 2012, serving beer from other Michigan breweries. On October 25, 2013, they began serving their Sunshine Stout and have since added Crazy Beaver Cream Ale, Railside Red and Island City IPA. This will bring the total number of house-brewed beers to five – half the number of total taps at the pub.
I had a good long talk with Scott over the two beers that were new to me – Railside Red and Island City IPA. If you had talked with Scott three years ago, I doubt he would have dreamed he would be where he is today. He has had some experience in the pharmaceutical industry, but has been involved with the food and beverage industry his whole life, so it was natural for him to pursue his dream of having his own brewpub. And things just starting falling into place.
Scott was searching for a good location without any success, when the Eesley Mill became available. When he explored the inside of the mill, he knew immediately this was his place. Then while setting up his brewhouse in the basement, the coffee business housed on the first floor of the building decided to close shop. This made for a much better location for the brewhouse. And his catering business? Well, it is just taking off like crazy.
When you enter the pub, whether you are greeted by bartender Dave Hurley, one of the other staff or Scott himself, you will feel like you are returning home for a family dinner. It has been a very rare occasion that I have visited the pub and not found Scott chatting with customers at the bar or in the dinning area. And the weather may be a bit chilly this week, but yesterday, the patio opened for the season as well. It is mostly covered, so a little rain should not bother any patio dining.
With Eric Philipp-Petrick (from The Livery) at the helm of the brewhouse and Tim Ginter from Bell's Brewery recently joining the brew team, there is no question that there is good quality brewing happening here. You may still see some beers from other Michigan breweries such as Dark Horse Raspberry Ale or Bell's Oberon on the tap list for now, but the plan is to turn over all 10 taps to house-brewed beers by the end of summer. Coming soon will be Free Love Passion Fruit Ale, Plainwell Pale Ale and a nod to Scott's time spent working on Machinac Island with a Machinac Fudge Porter.
Currently, the batches are fairly small, but the beer is selling well, so Scott is looking into upgrading to a larger brewhouse – possibly a three barrel system. The City of Plainwell is very lucky to have Scott and the Old Mill Brewpub and Grill, and I am lucky that it is only a few miles from my Michigan studio. I always look forward to stopping for a pint when I am up that way.
The Old Mill Brewpub and Grill is located at 717 E. Bridge St., Plainwell, (right next to Plainwell Ice Cream Company) open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 269-204-6601 or visit www.oldmillbrew.com or follow them on Facebook.