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High Five Co-Op Brewery collaborations achieve impressive response

Since meeting all the necessary legal qualifications in August, High Five Brewing Co-Op has held two collaboration events at local breweries to sell memberships. The co-op has more in place to sustain their success in the future.

Own a High Five Co-Op Brewing membership

To own a membership at High Five Brewing Co-Op, you must be at least 21 years of age and a resident of Michigan. The brewery hopes to make membership available out-of-state in the future. 

Memberships cost $150

High Five Co-Op Brewing has plans to create a payment plan and make memberships available for purchase online in the future.

For more information, visit High Five's website or Facebook page.

High Five Co-Op Brewery has already had two meet-ups at local breweries where those interested could buy memberships to the co-op for $150. The two meet-ups, one held at Harmony Brewing Company and the other at The Mitten Brewing Company, were met with warm reception, and now the co-op boasts 76 members. High Five plans to continue collaborating with local breweries to raise awareness of the co-op, gain membership and establish relationships within the community.

The goal of the meet-ups was initially to invite the public to come out, learn about High Five and taste the beers that High Five brewers collaborated with their hosts to make. High Five first worked with Harmony Brewing Company to create a Peppercorn and Michigan Mint WHIPA, which Harmony continued to sell until they ran out and donated $1 per pint sold to the co-op. They also collaborated with The Mitten Brewing Company to make a brown sugar and cardamom spiced porter that they called "Dusty Baker," after one of the two baseball players apparently credited with inventing the high five gesture. The two meet-ups combined have raised over $12,000 for High Five, and the directors of the co-op hope this pattern will continue in their future collaborations.

This month, High Five has collaborated with Grand Rapids Brewing Company, who will host the third collaboration event Wednesday, November 20 at 6 p.m. Rockford Brewing Company will host their December event, the date and time of which is to be announced.

The events essentially go like this: High Five asks a brewery to host them, the brewery invites the co-op to use their equipment and the two collaborate to make a unique recipe. They brew the beer, and when it's ready they set a date for a meet-up to showcase the collaboration beer and invite members to come and learn about the co-op and buy memberships.

One might be confused by the prospect of an established brewery collaborating with what will eventually become its competition. Director Josh Smith says that this isn't the case for Grand Rapids breweries, however.

"While it is competition, it's not bitter or tough," he says. "Everyone likes the Beer City vibe, and they work together to add to that."

In fact, he says, the collaboration goes beyond just creating a beer together. At the same time the meet-ups attract potential members to the co-op, they also broaden the audience of the already-established breweries.

The $150 cost of a membership will mean myriad benefits as the brewery continues to establish itself. Smith says the membership will operate much like a mug club membership. Members will receive discounts at the brewery, and Smith says the co-op also hopes to collaborate with other local businesses to provide discounts outside of the brewery for High Five members.

Members will also be able to run for the Board of Directors of the co-op, as well as have the opportunity to work as an employee at the brewery. Smith says this opportunity will be especially attractive, as the co-op will be able to pay fair living wage.

"We're going to do our best to pay a significant amount more than your average restaurant or brewery in town," says Smith. "Because we're not going to have controlling investors, when the co-op does turn a profit, we'll be able to reinvest it in the co-op rather than kicking out more money to investors."

"The cool thing is that that's not the end of it either," says Smith. "As we grow and come up with these new ideas, we're constantly going to  be looking for ways that we can give back to our membership. Because it's all about our membership."

But Smith says money from memberships isn't going to fuel the entire process of establishing to co-op. High Five is working on developing other forms of fundraising, including a Kickstarter campaign to be launched in the future.

Smith says the co-op hopes to have found a location by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Until then, he says, supporters can look forward to more collaborations and some member-only events. The co-op plans to host membership "sixer mixers," wherein participants bring a six pack of home brew or whatever they find at the store and trade their beers with others.

In the meantime, High Five invites members of the community to share their ideas.

"As a co-op, we want everyone to have a say in this," says Smith. "We want to have as much input from the community as possible."

"There's a lot of pride in the city, so people want to be a part of its blossoming," he says. "They want to be a part of these new businesses or ideas that are coming to fruition."

You can subscribe to the High Five Co-Op Brewery Newsletter here. Email your ideas to [email protected].

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