New brewery coming to Alpena

ALPENA — The craft beer industry has been flourishing on the west side of the state for several years and it has added to the economies in cities like Traverse City and Petoskey.

Now three Alpena men are teaming up to add to the craft beer options in Northeast Michigan by opening a new brewery in downtown Alpena, which should be open before the year is out.

Derek Heussner, Tyler Greenway and Ray Szatkowski will be opening Inspirations Brewery on Chisholm Street in the heart of Alpena’s business district. The business will feature up to 12 taps with different beer options, as well as pizza and bar food.

Heussner said the idea of opening a brewery was one that was always talked about, but one that seemed like a dream. Heussner and Szatkowski have been brewing beer for about five years and Greenway came into the mix about three years ago. With the help of City of Alpena, Target Alpena, Alpena Downtown Development Authority and Northland Area Federal Credit Union their dream became a reality.

“We used to B.S. about it, but it just felt like a dream. It really wasn’t more than basement chatter to be honest and we didn’t really think it was going to happen,” Szatkowski said. “All of a sudden the opportunity just kind of knocked and wham, we’re going.”

Greenway said each of the three men have a special skill set will benefit the business. Heussner is the most experienced brewer and Szatkowski has more than a decade of kitchen and cooking experience. Greenway said he worked for a distributor for about 10 years and that experience will help with the business operations.

“We all have a different strength that will help us,” he said.

Greenway said the popularity of craft beer is one that is still growing and likely to continue to do so. He said there are limited options in Northeast Michigan in terms of breweries to visit and as a result craft beer tourism isn’t as strong as it is in other areas of Michigan. Having one downtown, within walking distance from other local bars and restaurants, should not only set Inspiration up for success, but also attract new customers to the other businesses.

“I definitely think there is still room to grow,” he said. “Other than Austin Brothers you pretty much have to go all the way over to the other side of the state. I think the people locally will support it and it will draw people from out of town too.”

The brewery also will sell growlers that customers can bring back and purchase refills. Szatkowski said there are many people who collect growlers from the different breweries that have visited and expects it to be popular in Alpena.

“There are a lot of unique containers that people seem to really like,” he said. “Each seems to have their own style and it is a great way to buy some brew to go and maybe give it to someone who can’t get to the brewery, or just to keep at home for yourself.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.