Brian Phinney and his father Spencer have put together an incredible microbrewery in Michigan’s Thumb. This father-and-son team run Harsens Island Brewery, which is not located on Harsens Island but in the nearby city of Marysville, a few blocks from the St. Clair River.
Opened in August 2015 inside a 10,000-square foot former Hostess factory, Harsens Island Brewery, features a contemporary nautical-themed taproom, eatery with seating for 100-people and sophisticated back-room brewery churning out 620-gallons of delicious beer every week.
The Harsens Island Connexion
“Harsens Island was settled by Jacob Harsen in 1788. The island has 1,200 full-time residents and 5,500 summer residents.”
“Our ties to Harsens Island run deep. My great-grandparents met on the Tashmoo Steamer back around the turn of the century. The Tashmoo Steamer brought folks to and from Detroit from 1900-1936, we even named one of our beers the “Tashmoo Steamer” in honor of it.”
“Also, my family lives on the South Channel on Harsens Island. My family has been living there since 1950. We originally wanted to open the brewery on Harsens Island but the island is small, so there were septic and public sewer issues with an operation of our size, plus distributing from the island would be tough. You can drink our beer at Sans Souci Bar and Schoolhouse Grille on Harsens though.”
The Beer, the Beer, the Beer!
“We have 8-beers perpetually on draft here in the taproom. In addition to this, our beer is distributed in over 200 bars across the State of Michigan. Most of our stuff is locally sourced and locally themed. For instance, all of our beers have a local tie-in. We’re big on celebrating Michigan’s heritage here.”
Tim McLeod, one of HIB’s brewers, developed the Jobbie Nooner beer. “It’s a 4.7% Session IPA with a Belgian twist. 50 IBU. It’s seasonal and very popular,” says Tim.
“Here at the taproom, our two most popular beers are The Hump and The Cit.”
“The Hump is a 6.5% Helles Bock, light gold color, malty aroma, slightly spicy.”
“The Cit is a 4.5% light-bodied wheat beer made with New Zealand hops and orange peel.”
“Our personal favorite beers change every other week. Right now I’m digging the Margarita Beer that one of our brewers Kelly made. She did a great job with it. 7%, smooth, glossy, goes down easily.”
“My favorite beer is the Tashmoo Steamer. You can also get it at the Mercury Bar in Detroit,” says Tim.
“Here and only here at our taproom, you can order a Das Boot. For $12.00, you get two-and-a-half pints of beer in a big glass boot! You can also order a Flight of 4 and eventually sample all of the beers!”
“We have a full menu featuring sliders, flatbread, prime rib and more. We have awesome prime rib specials on Friday’s.”
“Our top appetizer right now is the House-Made Bavarian Pretzel with Cheese Sauce.”
“Our top entrée is the Prime Rib Sliders with horseradish sauce and a side of hand-cut fries.”
“We have live music, mainly local acts, on Friday’s and Saturday’s.”
Due to licensing issues, over-regulation and pointless layers of red tape, Harsens Island Brewery can only sell through distributors.
“Prior to opening the brewery, I was an avid home brewer for 5-years and developed a deep love for beer. I practiced law for 15-years as an environmental defense attorney in Livonia. It was good money but I’m much happier now running the brewery.”
“We are currently only licensed to manufacture, so we are officially classified as a microbrewery. We brew everything on-site here in our backroom warehouse. We have stainless steel beer vats, the whole set-up back here.”
“Grain comes piping in from an augur in the ceiling, goes into the Mash Tun where the starch and grain get converted into sugar in the process of being mashed. Then the Boil Kettle adds hops. And voila, before you know it, you have some tasty beer!”
“We use the Pilot System, doing only one keg at a time. We do everything on a micro-scale for quality control, then scale-up once we have a viable product.”
“In the near-future, we will have two new beers on tap: Blue Water IPA and a Chili Stout.”
“Our future expansion plans include adding more fermenters and a bottling line.”
“We are planning to bottle 22oz. Margarita beers by late July 2016.”
“You can catch us at these annual festivals:”
Royal Oak Beer Fest
Summer Beer Fest Ypsi
Blake’s Cider Dayze in Armada
Harsens Island Brewery
808 Gratiot Blvd.
Marysville, Michigan 48040
Tuesday- Thursday: 3:30 pm to 11 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11 am to midnight
Sunday: Noon to 9 pm
“Implosion Day (November 7th, 2015) when the Edison Plant nearby was imploded, was the only time we opened at 7am.”
- Microbreweries produce less than 15,000 barrels annually
- There are over 1,600 microbreweries in the United States
- Microbreweries offer a greater range of tastes than the canned blandness of international conglomerates
- IPA is the most popular style of craft beer in the USA
- Cascade Hops are the #1 hops
- Malt content determines beer color
- Good water helps make good beer. No excess chlorine or mineral imbalances.