TRAVERSE CITY — Pete Kirkwood asks how many wineries dot the Leelanau peninsula and says "come on.”
If 20 or so wineries can survive within 50 miles of Traverse City, he contends, a number of craft breweries can do so, too.
Kirkwood's microbrewery, The Workshop Brewing Company, is one of five breweries and brewpubs slated to open in the area by mid-summer.
He's shooting for a July opening date at the former Right Brain Brewery, 221 Garland Street in Traverse City. Construction will begin this month to tear down walls and create a space themed around craftsmanship. He’s calling for community contributions of rusted tools to line the walls and mix-matched hardware to personalize the bar top.
“I want my microbrewery, my brewpub here, to be a classic third place,” he said. “I like the idea of it being a place where people feel comfortable spending time, and where you’re going to encounter people from different walks of life with different points of view.”
Seven beers on tap will be named after hand tools. A rustic and simple menu will offer cold meats, cheeses and paninis. Kirkwood plans to expand production to include wine, cider and distilled spirits.
Mike Rizik, head brewer of upcoming Beggars Brewery, a family owned production brewery and taproom, said “the more the merrier as far as breweries go.”
"This is definitely a community of craft brew drinkers,” he said.
Rizik said Beggars will serve its traditional American and European style ales and stouts by Memorial Day weekend. Month-long construction recently began at 4177 Village Park Drive, which will have an “up north cabin vibe." Beggars won’t have a menu, but outside food will be welcome.
Jeff Brooks envisions his production brewery in Williamsburg as a hangout for police, firefighters, EMTs, military personnel and veterans. The Army and Navy veteran suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and wants his brewery, Bravo Zulu, to foster a community for veterans who need assistance.