TRAVERSE CITY — Monkey Fist and Shipyard Brewing Company peacefully co-existed until they started sailing into each other.
Monkey Fist, the Traverse City brewery and the first tenant of State Street Market, changed its name to MiddleCoast Brewing Company in mid-August to reduce confusion.
Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, has produced a Monkey Fist IPA for years. When Monkey Fist Brewing Company opened, it purchased the rights to use the Monkey Fist name for the new Michigan brewery.
Deven Larrance, head brewer at MiddleCoast, said the Michigan and Maine businesses still enjoy a “good relationship,” but distribution expansion outside of Michigan merited the change to MiddleCoast Brewing Company.
“Even before we moved out of the state we were having branding issues,” said Larrance, who noted social media posts often misidentified the other companies’ brews.
MiddleCoast first started selling its beer outside of its home state in May in Philadelphia. Larrance said MiddleCoast is now sold in every county in Pennsylvania.
“We distribute outside of Michigan now and we wanted to have a name that spoke more for Michigan and where we’re from,” he said. “MiddleCoast is more of a Michigan name.”
Larrance said the move from Michigan to the Keystone state made sense because that’s where majority owner Fred Chapman lives.
“A couple of the owners have connections to distributors in the state so it was easier for us to transition into that state first,” Larrance said.
MiddleCoast is eyeing another territory expansion soon.
“We’re hoping to open up another state right around the first of the year,” Larrance said. “We just have to decide which one.”
MiddleCoast added production in cans and kegs earlier this summer. But Larrance said even with a new name, the business is still all about himself and fellow brewer Joel Mulder.
“It’s still the same two guys in the back making beer,” Larrance said. “We’re still making really good beer.”