Northern Michigan Brewery Expands Distribution

Beards Brewery, a brewery out of Petoskey in Northern Michigan, is making its way into the Grand Rapids market.

What makes Beards special to the market is every can the brewery puts out is all due to machinery developed by Todd Vriesenga, the owner of Microcanner, a canning line company just north of Grand Rapids in Rockford.

Beards recently purchased this canning machine from the Michigan company due to it being affordable, easy to operate, and for the fact it acted as an easy to own canning solution.


Vriesenga’s background is as an engineer and while he has roots in Grand Rapids said, “I’ve traveled just about everywhere pineapples are grown.”

“My father was president of Dole during my younger years and I grew up on different arms all over the place. It was on these pineapple farms that I learned to weld and also to invent; I also learned I didn’t want to become a farmer but that I still wanted to use my engineering skills.”

Vriesenga explained that his firm, Perceptive Concepts, used to design automation for pharmaceutical companies, automotive, aerospace, and a variety of other industries and that as a contracted service company he kept busy.

“It was during this time three and a half years ago that my cousin, who owns a hard cider company, asked me about creating an automated canning machine that was scalable. My cousin had searched but the prices and products offered didn’t line up for him,” Vriesenga said.

Looking at it as a challenge, Vreiseng chose to take on the request to create a machine well built and priced that it would be perform beyond his cousin’s need.

“Twenty six canning machines later, the company has done exactly that. The contracting side of Perceptive Concepts has been shut down, the building has been outgrown, and now we only serve one company, Microcanner,” he said.

It was one year ago that the company came up with a production model. We now focus on one thing, creating the best canning machine out there. We do this by continuing to develop, produce, and evolve,” he said.

Having purchased a canning line in September and receiving it in October of last year, Peter Manthei, co-owner of Beards, said that he is thrilled to be canning Michigan made beer on Michigan made equipment.

“We are excited to be running a Michigan made canning line to compliment our Michigan made brew system and beer,” he said. “Ultimately, with micro canner, we feel we are running a better machine than the competition and we received excellent service and support to get it up and running smoothly while we learned it.”

Manthei also explained that cans are ideal for a Northern Michigan lifestyle.

“We love that fact. The can option is great for grabbing a couple beers and throwing them in your pack for a hike, a cooler for a picnic, a coozie for a ride on the boat, or you could enjoy them any number of other ways,” he said.

“Another plus, no glass bottle means no broken glass in the great outdoors. Cans really are a great way to go.”


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