Co-founder and Brewmaster at Odd Side Ales
(Editor’s Note: This is part of a series in which we scoured the country to find 30 innovative brewers and beer professionals under 30 years old, each of whom hopes to further the scope and breadth of the American craft beer scene.)
Chris Michner, 29
Grand Have, MI
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Chris Michner: My brewery is called Odd Side Ales (OSA). We are located in an old piano factory in downtown Grand Haven. We do not have any televisions in the bar in order to create a social atmosphere. OSA offers mug club memberships, which include a personalized mugs. We currently we have 250 members. Our bar top was custom made by my family members, and myself. It is the talk of the bar due to its creative use of grains. There are 10 different types of chandeliers that decorate the bar as well. OSA has a very coffee-shop-like feel with live music on the weekends. We brew right behind the bar. Due to our small size, fermenters and kegs often skirt the sides of the bar, however, it helps create the feeling of a small-town brewery.
How did you first get into brewing?
I began brewing my senior year in college at Michigan State University, where I received my graduate and undergrad (degrees) in accounting. I got the materials I needed and began brewing on my college apartment stove a few times a month. After two years at Deloitte & Touche—I was laid off due to a decline in the economy—that was when I decided to pursue my dream. While I was in the process of getting the bar up and running, I would brew in my driveway in my subdivision. I had to run flexible gas piping out of my laundry room to power the brew house in the driveway. I would make several test batches a week. The neighbors would come and sample my creations.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
I brewed a wit in my college apartment over the stove. It turned out pretty good.
What’s your favorite beer style?
I enjoy a nice hoppy pale ale or a well done sour.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
I honestly don’t have one. Although my parents aren’t in the brewing business, they have been my role models and constant support.
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
My inspiration comes from my custumers and positive reviews. My favorite thing is when a non-beer customer comes in and decides to try a beer and walks out with a new appreciation for beer.
What do you attribute to your success?
Many long hours and lack of debt.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
Craft beer allows people to get a chance to experience a unique mix of flavors as well as a local experience.
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
Local brewing is taking off. People really enjoy walking into a brewery in their hometown, and the atmosphere a small brewery creates.
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
I am local and I keep a small feeling by trying to get to know my customers.
Last one: Cascadian dark ale or black IPA?
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