Not all breweries begin as breweries.
When The Library opened in 1967 it was initially a bar. In the ’80s, the bar’s current owners purchased it and started serving food and better beers aside from the usual macro–brews.
“And then we had the fire in ’95,” brewer Bob Jackson said, “which gutted the original brick building. They had plans to put a brewpub in then, so they continued with those plans and went sideways because it would’ve cost too much to put in a second floor again. And so they attached the brewpub and re-opened in 1997 in its current configuration.”
Like many professional brewers, Jackson began as a home brewer. And while the move from a home brew system to a 5–barrel system seems difficult, Jackson transitioned with ease.
He said, “When you’re home brewing you’re always pouring your grains in and lifting your water and wort around; here I have pumps to do wort, but everything else is pretty much by hand. It’s just on a much larger scale. Like when a baker moves from one bakery to another he has to learn that equipment, the new ovens and equipment at the new bakery, well, I just had to learn this equipment.”
While some brewers like to brew certain styles more often than others, Jackson likes to keep a wide variety on tap.
“And then I put in some seasonal lagers,” Jackson said. “An Octoberfest in the fall and a bock in the spring. I do try to keep a spectrum to keep people happy.”
When it comes to Michigan beer, Jackson likes the expansion the state has seen. And though he would like to see more breweries open in the U.P., he understands one of the regions major limitations for such an enterprise.
“As far as more breweries up here, well, the more the better, but we only have a certain population density; we are a scattered population up here so if you’re going to open something up you have to be in a population center. I hope we get more expansion. I don’t understand why the Ironwood, Hurley area doesn’t have a brewpub, hint hint guys down there,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Whether or not Ironwood hops on the opportunity and joins the Michigan beer revolution, the U.P. is a significant part of the state’s growing industry and Jackson has only this to say to those seeking more good beer.
He said, “Keep drinking more good beer; always try new beers too. Never just keep drinking the same one. Try everything; you never know what you’ll like.”