Ready to pour … almost

Michigan’s first co-op microbrewery plans for summer opening

The Marquette Brewing Cooperative, which will be one of the first community-owned microbreweries in Michigan and the United States, is seeking members and investors for upcoming construction costs at its 501 S. Lake St. location. (Journal photo by Jaymie Depew)

By JAYMIE DEPEW

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — Michigan’s first community-owned microbrewery is months away from opening its doors in Marquette.

Drifa Brewing Co., also known as the Marquette Brewing Cooperative, is anticipated to open this summer, as long as the state’s permitting process is without delay.

Drifa, pronounced dree-fa, comes from the old Norse term for “fall of snow” or “snowdrift,” which is regionally appropriate as the Upper Peninsula is known for its long wintry season, said David Gill, president of the cooperative’s board of directors. Members of the co-op voted on what to call the microbrewery and announced its decision in December.

The microbrewery and taproom will be open to the public, and serve everything from lager and sours to stouts and pale ales.

There’ll be 12 rotating taps available and flights for those interested in trying several different styles and flavors. Growlers will also be on hand for anyone wishing to take beer on the go.

The Marquette City Commission on April 8 unanimously approved a resolution in support of Drifa, which allowed the microbrewery to move forward with the permitting process through the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. Gill said once they get the OK from the state, beer will be flowing at the 501 S. Lake St. location.

Establishing a microbrewery in South Marquette will enhance the area’s attractiveness, Gill said.

“One of our goals is to establish a long-term business there that would upgrade that area, as well as encourage other businesses to open in that area,” he told the commission. “We intend to provide good jobs and enhance Marquette’s attractiveness … as well as establishing the first microbrewery cooperative in the state of Michigan right here in our town of Marquette.”

Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Reynolds said the location is “an awesome spot for something to be happening” and she looks forward to seeing the area rejuvenated.

The cooperative is, as all co-ops are, 100 percent owned by its members. Currently, there are over 300 members of the microbrewery, Gill said.

For a one-time fee of $99, anyone can become an owner of Drifa. Members receive a handful of benefits, including discounts on beer.

“If you’re an owner, you also have the choice to become an investor,” Gill said in a previous Journal article. “Becoming an investor is buying preferred shares, which is a financial investment in the brewery where you’re basically lending us money and we pay you back with interest later.”

If regular members choose to invest in preferred membership shares, they can earn up to a 5 percent annual return on their investment. Preferred membership does not impart any additional control over regular membership.

In 2012, Gill started the Marquette Home Brewers Club as a means to bring people together who shared a passion for brewing beer. The group has put on the Spring Ferment Festival for the past three years — which is on hold this year as members anticipate Drifa’s opening — and dreamed of opening their own brewery one day.

Well, it’s happening.

“The drywall is just being absolutely finished; we’re going to start painting; we have the brewing system, it just needs to be put in,” Gill said in a phone interview. “Once we’re there, we’ll probably have a couple of soft openings with friends and family to work out any kinks.”

There’ll be an outdoor beer garden at the microbrewery, with local food trucks often on site. Customers are also welcome to bring in their own food as they enjoy a craft beverage.

“Once that power plant (Shiras Steam Plant) comes down and the beach extends, it’ll be one of the best views of Lake Superior in town,” Gill said.

For more information, visit www.marquettebrewing.coop.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.

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