Matt Michiels is a simple man.
As the owner of Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply, the first and only brewery in Ada, Michigan, he simply wants his business to be an integral part of the community and brew quality beer.
Last month, we had the pleasure of enjoying a few brews and visiting with Michiels to learn how Gravel Bottom came to be.
Michiels’ desire to own a small business is a big departure from his previous position with Boeing. After leaving his job with the aerospace company and moving from Seattle to West Michigan, he decided to launch a small craft brewery. After two years of searching for the perfect location, Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply came to fruition in Ada.
Community is the cornerstone of Gravel Bottom. The brewery does not serve food, but patrons are encouraged to bring in fare from surrounding restaurants and eateries. The works of local artists line the walls. Guest brewers are even chosen to brew beer that will be featured on tap.
Michiels points out that he doesn’t want his brewery to be the next Founders; he relishes the family-like atmosphere that the small town of Ada facilitates.
Just as community is important, quality is, too.
Michaels’ biggest fear is that the first impression of his beer is a poor one. For this reason, Gravel Bottom is an advocate of the Howler. Similar to the traditional Growler, a Howler is only 32 ounces. Because of its smaller size, the beer is consumed in less time, helping guarantee the tasty brew won’t go flat or stale before someone pours a glass for a friend.
Showing care for his brews reflects in their names, too. Gravel Bottom brews aren’t given names; they have to be earned. For example, The Crusher earned its name after the fermenter it was brewed in was crushed during the brewing process (see photo below). Another example is the 100 lb. Pumpkin beer, named for, well, the 100 lbs. of pumpkin used in its recipe.
The community and quality theme extends to local brewers as well. There is a well-stocked brewing supply area connected to the brewery. Malt, hops, and other supplies are readily available, along with friendly advice from employees. There are even beer-related books from Michiels’ own collection that customers can borrow.
While Michiels’ concept for Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply is a simple one, its rock-solid foundation of community and quality are destined to help his venture succeed.
Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply is located at 418 Ada Dr. SE in Ada, Michigan.