Michigan Beer Cellar

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    When I visited New Holland Brewery back in March, Brett told me there was a new Microdistillery and Brewery opening up in Sparta, Michigan. For the next couple of months I was trying to figure out just where. Succeeding in doing so a few weeks ago, I stopped in one morning on the way to work and met Dan Humphrey. He had not opened up yet and was just getting things together, he saw me poking around and invited me in and gave me a tour. He has made a lot of his own brewing equipment as well as two keggle style reflux stills. I was excited to come in once he opened up and sample his wares. Thursday night I had just that chance. I called ahead to make sure he had wifi and power, both of which he had.

    I took a couple of photos of the place and sat down. There was a decent band playing in one corner, taps lined the far left wall popping out through a massive stainless steel back splash. The bar, a light oak colored structure supports a glassy sea of poly that Dan troweled on. The bar chairs are stiff backed, with a nice thick cushion, they were horribly uncomfortable since they didn't seem the right height to meet up with the bar. After a few pints I seemed to forget about the whole ergonomics of beer drinking however. Adam the bartender was serving a few folks, he is a young man who has apparently never worked a real pub bar before, having done mostly Applebee's type work.

  Cellar_1.JPG                                                               It took Adam a good ten minutes to ask if I wanted a pint. He was busy, but not that busy, I would have given him some credit for eye contact and a 'I will be right with you' but apparently he is more a cash not credit guy. I asked him what he had on tap, he handed me the menu and walked away. Ten more minutes later I still had no pint. Dan's adult son was wandering around like an excited lost puppy with a pretzel and some dip, and Adam was waiting on folks as they came. So after the bartender had waited on another five folks or so, and pretzel man had come and gone about three times I finally asked him if I could please get a pint next. He asked what I ordered - I told him an American IPA - and he very quickly served one up.

    The American IPA was really great, it had an almost cask ale character to it, great body, plenty of hops, I was pretty impressed. I was joined by some friends and once they were served I tasted their samples since my pint ran dry - for a while. Next when Adam finally asked me if I wanted another I got the English IPA. It too was good, nothing like the American IPA, but still very good. It had a bit of an unfiltered homebrew character to it. Lastly I had their porter, a lighter bodied ale, with a slight roasted malt character. Dan came out and was very cordial, and I chatted with him for a few moments. When all was said and done and I was ready to head out, Adam had no idea who I was, he had no tab for me, and he had no idea what I had drank. I let him sweat it out for forty seconds or so as he looked through the computer, the receipt bag, and where ever else he thought that mysterious tab might be.  I told him that he had never taken my card, and what I had that night. I also explained the $2.50 tip. Adam is a good kid, I asked him if he had ever tended bar before. That's when he explained he had worked at Applebee's or some place like that rattling off a dozen excuses of why he was slow, it was the computer, he had been there since ten, he had worn the wrong color socks. I explained that I would compensate him better the next time I was in, but that he needed to step it up just a bit. This was not Applebee's. To her credit the next bartender - a young woman -  immediately asked if I needed something when she arrived behind the bar. There is a lesson here. When you start a new business do what my buddy recommends, and scout out your employees.

   I will be back for more great beer and good music, maybe even some of those roving pretzels.  Let's just hope the Michigan Beer Cellar lasts long enough to get their staff trained up to the same level as their beers.

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This page contains a single entry by Brewmaster published on June 18, 2010 11:19 PM.

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