It all started by accident.
More accurately, an accident in the literal sense. Scott Sullivan, the founder of Greenbush, had no intention of opening a brewery. In fact, he didn’t even actually know how to brew beer. Whatever the case, fortune makes for an odd friend. Back in late 2007, while living in Chicago and running a business building custom furniture and lighting he got into a losing a fight with a router. This resulted in 12 weeks with a finger on the disabled list and not much to do. Until his brother gave him a Mr. Beer kit. He took one look at it and resolved to call a friend with a proper home-brew setup. One thing led to another and they were home brewing every week. After a few practice runs, they made a beer called Distorter and anyone he gave it to told him to sell it. He thought that was a pretty good idea and the rest is history. He moved back to Michigan and kept home-brewing and handing out his beer to all who would listen. Next, he lucked into a building (the Taproom) two miles from where he grew up, found an old brewing system in San Francisco with a copper kettle and set up what he thought would be a small mom and pop brewery.
When he was growing up, Sawyer was like most Southwest Michigan small towns. Tumbleweed, swinging door saloons, dusty dirt roads, outlaws on horses and a laundromat/video rental/candy counter. Enter Greenbush Brewing Co. Prior to opening our doors on June 10, 2011 in the old laundromat/video rental/candy counter, not too much had changed other than the addition of a giant garden center. The streets were quiet, save for the swish of automobiles passing through town and the feral cats roamed freely. When we propped open the door a day early with no announcement we thought we’d be a quiet part of a quiet street. Then 350 people walked into our 32 person taproom on the first day. Then 550 on the second day. Then everyone drank us out of beer and we had to close for the week of July 4th to catch up. We caught on pretty quickly that we were on to something. By Fall we had moved from pretzels to sandwiches, salads and soup. By the next May we moved the brewing equipment and expanded the taproom, adding bbq and a larger menu. By that Fall we added on to the building. In 2013 we built a full kitchen, expanded the taproom yet again, added a patio and bought a new brewing system. From 32 to 82 in two years with another 25 outside. Then we ran out of room.
As we rolled into 2014 the need for more space was glaringly apparent so we opened The Annex right across the street. An extra 75 patio seats and 20 year round indoors helped satisfy the masses, but The Annex serves two very Greenbush function, one being the continual release of new food and drink items. House-made jerky, snack sticks, pub cheeses and of course our now very famous bacon alongside our ever-changing lineup of beers. The other function is to provide people with items that aren’t easily found in these parts. This we do via our well-known deli case where you can find meats and cheeses from around the country and the world, as well as some we make right here in Sawyer. Then of course there’s our merchandise, celebrating everything from Greenbush itself, to our pork obsession, to the active feral cat population to our Supreme Leader Joe, of whom sightings may be had most every day.
Then there’s the Clean Plate Club. We acquired the space next door in 2016 and use it for all manner of events, with even greater future plans to be announced soon!