Dutch Girl Brewery Brings European Style Beer to Spring Lake and Michigan’s Growing Craft Beer Market
When Netherlands King Willem Alexander was in West Michigan this past summer, he reminded residents “If it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much”. While he was likely referring to natives of his own country and the more than 400,000 Americans who are Dutch-American, the president could have also been talking about some beer you’ll find in Spring Lake. Opened in July, Dutch Girl Brewery is one of the best breweries you’ll find in Michigan.
You will see quite a bit of Dutch pride beginning when you walk in the door at Dutch Girl Brewery. Along with the name, the brewery pays tribute to owner Kelly Rozema Finchem’s Dutch heritage with decorating. Upon entry you will see a giant collection of wooden shoes with the Dutch phrase “Welkom”. The Dutch shoes have mostly been purchased at thrift stores or gifted to the owners from others.
We had the honor to visit and tour the Dutch Girl Brewery earlier this month. On our visit we talked with owners Luke Finchem and Kelly Rozema Finchem about their history, breweries throughout Michigan, and what the company has in store for the future. We were also able to tour the facility and find out about upcoming new releases.
While at Dutch Girl Brewery, we were able to sample all 11 beers they had available on draft. Here is the list and some details:
- Just One More – Vienna Lager, 5.1% 24 IBUs
- Street Scrubber – Saison, 5.2%, 40 IBUs
- Coastie Kolsch – Kolsch, 5.4%, 24 IBUs
- Wood Panel Porter – Porter, 4.9%, 36 IBUs
- 7Mile Smile – IPA, 6.7%, 80 IBUs
- Trees – Double IPA, 8.0%, 75 IBUs
- T. Banks – ESB, 6.0%, 40 IBUs
- Chester’s Copper Pot Ale – 7.5%, 50 IBUs
- Dirty Boots – 8.0%, 50 IBUs
- Bear Dance Belgian – Blueberry Belgian Ale, 7.2%, 15 IBUs
- Monastic Front TIPA – Belgian Trippel IPA, 10.0%, 90 IBUs
What stood out from the beers was the Vienna Lager and Kolsch, two styles of beer you won’t find at every brewery. Both beers were delicious and highlighted the European style that Dutch Girl Brewery has in many of its beers. We were told these two beers are among the best sellers at the brewery.
Since Dutch Girl Brewery is still relatively new, you need to go to the brewery to try their beers. Only a handful of restaurants and bars have the orange wooden shoe tap handle in their establishments. We were told seven of the eleven beers offered have found their way into other establishments. Luke and Kelly are actively looking at doing some tap takeovers at bars in the future to show off their wonderful beers. Canning is a topic for the future and Luke tells us he would love to see the Coastie Kolsch in cans first. The brewery would also like to bottle some of its barrel aged beers in the future and would likely keep sales of them strictly to the facility.
Luke has more than 25 years homebrewing experience. The brewery’s head brewer Josh Lentz spent time at Jolly Pumpkin, Founder’s, and The Filling Station. He is the main force behind the beers but Luke assures us it is pretty collaborative between the two of them. With all their experience, that helps explain why the beers are so good.
The “7 Mile Smile” in the IPA name refers to Spring Lake, the city that hosts this wonderful brewery. It is said that in Spring Lake, “Nature smiles for Seven Miles”. The city of Spring Lake is only 1.74 square miles, with nearly one third of that total represented by water. In the 2010 Census, listed a city population of 2,323 people. You can find Dutch Girl Brewery at 14964 Cleveland St. (Suite B) in Spring Lake. The brewery is right off of M-104 and sits across the street from Vander Mill Cider.
You’ll notice that the Dutch Girl Brewery is pretty big for a new unestablished brewery. This was done on purpose as it gives the owners plenty of room for expansion in a number of areas like food, canning/bottling, and brewing. It also comes with a cheaper rent than downtown per square foot. The building is 7500 square feet, with 5500 of that dedicated to the brewhouse. On our tour, we noticed how clean the entire building was, which the owners take great pride in. If you visit, you’ll want to sit at the bar, where you can get a great view of the production facility.
Cleanliness was one of the common themes during our tour and also our conversation. Another theme was trying to spend money in the local Michigan market. This includes beer ingredients and the brewing equipment.
On Saturday October 17th, Dutch Girl Brewery will host its 1st annual Dutch Girl Bier Fest. The event will take place from 4pm to 11pm, with Mug Club members getting in an hour earlier at 3pm. Bier Fest features several new beers, live music, and local food. An outdoor tent will feature the live music of “Oregon Dreamchild” and “Mystic Dub”. Food vendors participating in the event include Top Butcher Shoppe and BBQ and Righteous Cuisine.
Of course most people attending will be interested in the new beer offerings. Two new barrel aged beers will be offered. The offerings are Dirty Boots aged in Corsair rye whiskey barrels and Monastic Front aged in Corsair gin barrels. Tickets for the event are on sale now for $20. Get them now as they will go up to $25 on the day of the event. Also if you’re a Mug Club member, tickets are only $15.
The brewery offers a Mug Club for its loyal members. The cost is $50 on an annual basis. All Mug Club members get $1 off all pints everyday. Luke told us this was one of the important things when opening a brewery, referring to a daily discount not just one offered certain days of the week or certain times. All Mug Club members also get $2 off growler refills and 10% off all merchandise.
Right now the easiest way to enjoy Dutch Girl Brewery is to take a visit to the brewery. In the future, you’ll hopefully be able to get cans at your local beer store. You could also find yourself ordering a Dutch Girl Brewery beer at a local bar. Tap Takeovers and beer festivals are ways Dutch Girl is going to get its name out there. If you find yourself at a beer festival with Dutch Girl make sure to stop by and say hello and try these great tasting beers.