Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brewery Becker- Traditional, Not Typical

Written by  Erik Smith
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brewery becker article

Brewery Becker opened in downtown Brighton this past July, after 38 months of planning and renovating the historic building it now calls home. Built in the early 1870s, the building opened as the Western House Hotel in 1873 and today resides on the National Register of Historic Places.
The extensive renovation of the interior of the building harkens back to those days- from the wrought-iron staircase, a reproduction of one from that era, to the door on the Main Street side of the building that comes all the way from Genoa, Italy and was constructed in the 1880s. Much of the stenciling inside the main taproom and restrooms is Victorian design, hand painted by the brewer’s wife. The second and third floors are open and beautifully lit, containing a second hand crafted bar (using much of the building’s original materials).

Matt Becker is the head brewer and co-owner of Brewery Becker. “I’ve been homebrewing since 1991, and have had the dream of owning a brewery since 1995”, Matt said, when I caught up with him tending bar. Part of that dream included making traditional styles, and the menu when I visited was a testament to that, with some unique styles I’d never seen in all my brewery visits. One of the most impressive was a style called Entire Butt, which pre-dates the modern stouts and porters, and is made with brown malt (which is the predecessor of the black malts used in stouts and porters). “It’s an English malt, that is floor-malted and hand turned”, Matt told me proudly, admitting it was a ‘bit of a pain to make’. Tasting the finished product makes all that work producing it worthwhile. It has a muddy brown look in the glass, but has amazing complex flavors of chocolate and coffee, even though neither of those were added to it. The menu also included a few other traditional styles- A gruit referred to as a ‘Scandinavian farmhouse ale’ (a beer based on a tradition Viking drink and flavored with bog myrtle and juniper instead of hops), a grisette, which the menu called “Saison’s little brother”, and two types of traditional ‘milds’, close reproductions of the original British Ales.

The brewery has a seven-barrel system. “All of our beers are cask-conditioned and pushed by a pump. This is real ale, naturally carbonated, with no gas added”, Matt explained. Sitting at the bar while talking with Matt, I also listened as his customers came in and ordered their beer. It was clear that he and his staff had done a good job of educating them about the unique styles.

A visit to Brewery Becker is a unique beer drinking experience, almost a stroll through the modern era of beer making. Adding in the beautiful taproom and spacious beer garden, downtown Brighton has a perfect spot for the beer enthusiast.

Erik Smith

Erik Smith

Erik Smith is a relative newcomer to craft beer, having first been turned on to the scene by a chance encounter with "The End of The World" (Unibroue's La Fin du Monde) during the summer of 2011. Since then, he has increased that love of beer by serving as the 'un-official' photographer for the many beer events at Ashley's in Westland, MI. His goal is to visit every Michigan brewery. An avid traveler, beer tourism has played a prominent role in his travels since 2012. 

Find him on Untapped at eriksmithdotcom and at his blog at http://onmyfeetorinmymind.com/