Perrin brews aged in rare oak barrels
Through December and into January, Perrin Brewing Company will be releasing a series of beers aged in oak barrels from the Van Winkle Family Reserve.
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Perrin Brewing Company's first year has presented the brewery with some obstacles, but co-owner Jarred Sper says the brewery's core goals of a high quality and consistent product will ultimately be what determine the brewery's success in the upcoming year.
"The first year has been hectic and chaotic. There's a lot of moving parts; there's a lot of things going on at once," says Sper. "It's a challenging business, but it's rewarding when people really seem to enjoy your product."
The brewery produced between 7,000 and 8,000 barrels of beer this year. They have 22 beers on tap in their brew pub and a draft-only distribution footprint that currently covers about 80 percent of the lower peninsula. Originally, a unique production line was also in the works, but its uniqueness ended up being its downfall.
"We wanted to go with old school flat-top cans. That was something I wanted to bring back," says Sper.
The brewery sought to market its product in minimalistically-labeled flat-top cans that had to be opened with a church key. The canning line, which was in production for two years, finally presented too many difficulties to be worthwhile.
"We had to let that baby go," says Sper.
The obstacle has not deterred Perrin from continuing the pursuit of business ideas that go against the grain.
"If you're not failing, you're not learning," says Sper.
Sper says many of the innovative ideas for the brewery come from analyzing what's currently on the market and entertaining the idea of a product that portrays the complete opposite.
"I like to look at what everybody else is doing, why they are doing it and what's the complete opposite of that," says Sper. "Because I think if you mine for those things, you'll find different ideas and avenues that people haven't done before."
This can be seen in the relatively simple nomenclature of their staple brews. For example, their IPA goes simply by "IPA." Sper says this originated with the goal of creating a product that was true enough to the traditional style that it would help educate the drinker on how to identify the core flavors in a traditional beer.
"I wanted to know what I was drinking," says Sper. "If I'm drinking IPA, then I can say 'okay this is what an IPA tastes like.' It was originally for Randy and I to learn, so that's why we kept the names just IPA, Golden Ale, Black Lager and Raspberry Blonde."
Some of the brewery's more experimental brews boast more creative names, but on the whole the classics stand by their original titles.
For now, the brewery aims to continue extending their draft-only distribution footprint, focusing on Michigan. Plans for a packaged product remain a goal for the brewery, but there is no definite timeline for when that will occur.
"We're just really trying to focus on opening up the state, both the upper and lower peninsula, with draft, and then go from there and kind of see what brand rise to the top and what people like," says Sper.
As for the brewery's goals for the new year, Sper says the staff's pride in the product takes precedence.
"For me, it really comes back to making sure the people that work here are proud that they work here, in the sense of, do they believe that they are serving, making and shipping the best possible beer that we can make," says Sper.
"If we can be passionate about what we're doing and within the realms of keeping it high quality and high consistency," he says, "I think we'll be okay."
I'm a student at Grand Valley State University studying English and Writing and minoring in French. I love beer and Grand Rapids, and that's why I'm covering Local Breweries for The Rapidian.
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