Cultivating a new brew: Berrien Springs brewer to include on-premise growing, tasting room

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By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BERRIEN SPRINGS — Two years and another seven months.

That’s how long Nick Kuhn has been waiting to unleash Cultivate Brewing Co. to the public. It was two years spent seeking approval and gathering the financial backing he needed, with an additional seven months spent on renovations.

“It took some twists and turns from ownership structure, the location, name and financial backing,” he said. “We were able to purchase the property in June of last year and closed on a commercial loan in November.”

As owner of the brewing company, Kuhn already runs a real estate management business in Chicago, but says this new venture into barley and hops has always been a passion of his.

While the opening date for company at 961 E. Shawnee Road in Berrien Springs remains unannounced, Kuhn said it is set to arrive shortly.

“The date will be revealed very soon,” Kuhn said. “It’s very close and a few more pieces need to come together. We want to be able to offer a good variety of beers. So, we want to have at least seven of our beers on tap. The last three weeks has been just complete mayhem on the brewers.”

Cultivate Brewing is considered a working farm, growing its own barley and hops on premise. Kuhn said he wants craft beer enthusiasts to enjoy this new way of being a part of the craft process. Cultivate Brewing is stationed on an 18-acre farm and will allow visitors to walk through the hops and barley being grown on site.

(Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Nick Kuhn pours a glass of beer from inside his new brewery in Coloma. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Kuhn, a Baroda resident, calls it “farm-to-pint brewing.”

The idea was to merge the two concepts of great soil for growing and the surge in the hops industry.

“Hops needs to grow in between specific latitudes and longitudes, and Southwest Michigan falls within those parameters,” Kuhn said. “There is also this shift in a societal standpoint that people want to know more about where their food is coming from. We are doing something really neat here. We want people experiencing beer, not just drinking it.”

A barley field can be seen next to the brewery, with a nature trail feeding around it to allow drinkers to walk through and read signs about the barley they are consuming.

From the soil to a glass

Nicholas Dumon, brewer and St. Joseph resident, was living and working in Chicago when he first heard about Kuhn’s idea. Dumon was teaching a brewing class when Kuhn and a few of his friends stumbled into the course.

A few days later Kuhn came back and made Dumon an offer.

“With Cultivate Brewing Co., what really stands out is the connection to the land,” Dumon said. “We are situated on a gorgeous piece of land where we have these ingredients to make beer. We have a more imminent connection to where beer actually comes from. That really sets us apart.”

The site is not all farm though.

Cultivate Brewing has a shaded-porch area that seats 50, a tasting room inside that can fit up to 50 people and a patio outside that can hold 60.

Kuhn said the brewery will start out by offering nine traditional styles of beer. It won’t serve food in a traditional restaurant sense, but will include snacks.

Tasting room hours will be from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday through Sunday. The brewery will welcome walk-ins, but Kuhn asks people to schedule reservations for groups of eight or more.

Kuhn said he has always been interested in the creative process of taking nothing and making it into something tangible.

“It’s a fun passion. I think it was Jimmy Fallon who said ‘thank you craft beer for making my drinking habit seem like a hobby,'” Kuhn said. “It’s a big undertaking because you’re not just opening a brewing company, you’re also getting an active farm up and running at the same time.”

To learn more about Cultivate brewing Co., visit its website at www.cultivatebrewing.com/locations.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@thehp.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 21, 2015)

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