The first time I ventured out to Beards, I nearly missed it driving through downtown Petoskey. The sign was relatively small on an easy-to-miss building. The brewery itself was tucked in the back of a building, down a stone path in what looked like an enclosed outdoor space. The taproom was small, cozy, full of board games, and a record player was playing in the background. It felt like a secret you only wanted your good friends to know about.
Fast-forward five years, and Beards has become a staple in the Petoskey community. Now on the corner of US-31 and Lake Street, the brewery resides in the former Whitecaps building and is one of the first things you encounter as you enter downtown.
And while the space is larger, feels more expansive, and has extraordinary views, it maintains a similar atmosphere as the original space.
“We wanted to keep as much of the old place as we could,” said Ben Slocum, Beards co-founder.
Upon entering, a stone path that pays tribute to the original guides you to the taproom surrounded in natural elements. And, if you look closely, you might be able to spot the original bar and large Beards logo.
At the same time, the new space on Lake Street feels more “grown-up” with intimate booths, more community tables, and a grand staircase. There’s also an opportunity to escape upstairs to a more intimate space, where the board games and vinyl records can still be found.
The move from a small, intimate space to a large, inviting one exemplifies Beards five-year journey. Starting on a one-barrel brewing system, Beards had a humble beginning. Word spread quickly about the excellent beer and atmosphere, and after just two years, a 4,000 square foot production facility was opened in Charlevoix. The production facility contains a 15-barrel system and has allowed Beards to expand its production and distribution.
“We sold more on July 2 than we did during all of our winter months combined,” said Slocum, referencing their continuous growth and expansion.
Beards is now canning and can now be found throughout Northern Michigan, the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids area, and throughout Wayne County. Recently, Beards released its first bomber: Gin Barrel Aged Luna.
And now that the brewery has taken over an old restaurant and has more space, it also features a full food menu. As much as possible is made in house, from brat buns to braised lamb shank, which compliments everything Beards has become known for.
“We craft beer, why not craft food?” said Slocum.
Beards will officially be celebrating its five years of success from August 17-19; the new taproom is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11a.m. to midnight.