ISHPEMING - The taproom of the old Mather Inn Hotel in Ishpeming, a place that was once a very popular historical destination, had been dormant for many years after the hotel closed down in 1987. However, the Cognition Brewing Company is looking to change that this November after opening the doors to their new brewpub.
Jay Clancey, owner of Cognition Brewing Company, said that being able to open the brewery in such a historical Ishpeming landmark means everything to him.
"My father's family grew up about two houses away from the Mather Inn, and their family spent tons of time down there," he said. "They had a St. Bernard that used to be the 'official hotel dog.' It used to come down and lie by the fire just about every night."
Brian Richards, brewmaster of Cognition Brewing Company, stands after pouring a beer in the tap room of Cognitions Brewing Company. (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)
The former Mather Inn Hotel in Ishpeming. (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)
Cognition is located in the former Mather Inn Lounge. A future entrance will be in place where the Mather Inn sign is shown (Journal photo by Justin Marietti)
Clancey said that initially, the plan was to build the brewery in one of Dan Perkins' buildings on Main Street, but the opportunity to get into the Mather Inn opened up, and they decided to check out the taproom.
"As soon as I looked at it without the boilers, I said this is just obviously the place for a brewery," he said. "Plus, you have a taproom with an existing bar. So all of a sudden it was like a better location and it was going to cost half as much. But as far as the inspiration to start a brewery - I'll always give Dan Perkins credit for that."
He said that he began trying out brewpubs and microbreweries during his travels in the early 1990s, and since then he's visited breweries in nearly every state in the US.
"I'm an Ishpeming guy, and I'm an Irishman," he said. "I mean, an Irishman from Ishpeming should have a pub. And if you can make your own beer, so much the better."
Clancey said that many years ago, he met his sister-in-law's nephew, Brian Richards, and when he saw what Richards was able to do with his homemade beer, the desire to open a brewpub was even stronger.
"I've had the opportunity to drink his home brews for several years," he said. "I know just how good every one of them is."
Richards, 35, will be the brewmaster at Cognition Brewing Company, which is on track to open in late November.
"Anything can happen as far as licensing goes," Richards said. "But we haven't had anything pop up yet that's looking like it's going to keep us from getting open for late November."
He said that he began brewing his own beer about 14 years ago.
"From getting into a variety of good beers, you just kind of naturally start to learn about what makes things taste a certain way, what kind of ingredients are used, and it piques your interest," he said. "You just keep digging and the next thing you know, you're brewing beer."
Richards said that the taproom will have 12 taphandles, and he would like to fill as many of them as he can.
"I want to do a pretty wide variety of (different beers)," he said. "I really like Belgian styles, but a lot of people don't like them so I'm not going to get away with trying to do a whole ton of those, but I just have to sneak them in, you know?"
He said he'd like to do some German- and English-style beers, as well as some "just kind of off the wall, American- style, anything-goes types of beers. Obviously we'll have an IPA, because they are one of the most popular styles probably in the world now."
Richards added that the taproom already has a sort of old-English pub feel to it, and they will probably try to maintain as much of that feel as possible.
The Mather Inn is located at 107 Canda St. in Ishpeming. It was opened in 1932, and it provided lodging for the cast of the movie "Anatomy of a Murder" in 1959. The building is featured in the National Register of Historic Places.
For more information on Cognition Brewing Company, visit its website on Facebook.
Justin Marietti can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 245. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.