Terra Firma combines agricultural practices with creative brews

TRAVERSE CITY — Brewery Terra Firma, which translates to Solid Earth in Latin, opened in July with a different approach to brewing. It’s the first of its kind in the state, which brings agriculture and beer together. It aims to produce as many of its ingredients on site as possible, and is utilizing many sustainable practices to reduce waste. 

Finding inspiration from food and his passion for cooking, Brew Master John Niedermaier has already utilized the on-site farm. “We were able to use pumpkins and honey that were produced here on the farm in a number of our brews this year, and that will increase next year,”  Matt Heffron, Terra Firma’s taproom manager explained.

Niedermaier has been brewing for 25 years and has a collection of over 1,000 brewing recipes. He brewed for many years at Traverse Brewing Company, and was Brew Master at Right Brain Brewery. He is known for the quality of his beer, as well as his unique approach to brewing. Brews found at Terra Firma include the highly sought after Manitou Amber Ale, and creative brews such as Wicked Garden Honey Rye and Beet Wheat.

In order to create many of these unique brews while also maximizing the use of its agriculture, Terra Firma will be expanding its farm in the next growing season. Heffron explained, “Look for more spices, herbs, vegetables, squash, fruits and flowers in 2014.” 

In addition to food, Brewery Terra Firma is also working on growing its own hops. Hops have been growing on-site for the last two years while the brewery was still being constructed. 

“We are planning on moving the hopyard this spring to a much more visible location in our East field now that we have a summer of soil conditioning and building in that area,” explained Heffron. 

In an effort to limit waste, Brewery Terra Firma has also put many sustainable practices into place. Spent grains left after brewing, for example, are composted with other farm byproducts, and an innovative water system reduces water usage by 20%. 

Using this model, Brewery Terra Firma has been able to distribute to pubs and taprooms throughout the state. Currently, Terra Firma’s brews can be found on tap throughout Northern Michigan and much of the southwest area of the state.  

“We plan to continue expanding distribution throughout the state, both in range and variety of products distributed,” stated Heffon. 

With this innovative business model that reduces waste and emphasizes local resources, Brewery Terra Firma is definitely a brewery worth experiencing.

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