Today we’d like to introduce you to Nick VanCourt.
Hi Nick, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
It all started with homebrewing for me. I thought, way back in 2008, after a few years of homebrewing, I’d start a brewery. My wife, Marina, who is much smarter than me, pointed out that I should get some professional experience! So, I attended and graduated from the World Brewing Academy in early 2009. From there, I got experience in a whole bunch of breweries -The Great Dane, Milwaukee Brewing Co, Tyranena Brewing Co., and then finally Ore Dock brewing, where I was head brewer for the first five years of its existence. At that point, we knew the next step was starting our little niche brewery in a destination location. We choose the former Northwoods Supper Club building, which has been well known in the area since the mid-1930s. We spent all of 2017 planning and renovating and then opened our doors to the public in January of 2018.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
For the most part, yes. We did have all of the struggles and delays inherent in starting a business in a very regulated industry. We also had the struggles and delays of renovating such a giant old building. Most of these struggles were due to unknowns about the building itself, having been constructed and added onto in the days where construction codes were more or less considered guidelines. We also had some struggles with animals in the building. On the first day of construction, everyone had to go home so the pest control technicians could remove a family of raccoons from the building!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
We are a fully niche brewery. We don’t produce today’s most popular styles, such as Hazy IPA, Kettle Sours, or Big Sweet Stouts. We produce farmhouse ales, think Saison, Grisette, Biere de Garde, and barrel-soured ales in the Belgian tradition. We also naturally carbonate all of our products in the package for better carbonation, foam, and shelf stability. We make more than half of our products with 100% Michigan-sourced ingredients and have added Michigan Ciders and Meads to our portfolio, as well. Though the textures and flavors vary a lot, one thing that ties our products together is the fact that they are incredibly dry and drinkable. I’d say we are known for our Belgian and French sourced classic Saison, Terre a Terre, and our many Michigan-sourced, barrel-soured fruit beers, especially Pawberry and Spooky Kriek.
What does success mean to you?
Having a happy, growing team, working toward a common goal would be my first measure. After that, I would say I feel successful any time someone says one of our products is their favorite!
- Website: barrelandbeam.com
- Instagram: instagram/barrelandbeam
- Facebook: facebook/barrelandbeam