Brewery in downtown St. Joseph uses smoke to draw business

Co-owner Michael Gross and brew master Christian Cook stand beside several tanks Friday inside the Silver Harbor Brewing Co. in downtown St. Joseph. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Co-owner Michael Gross and brew master Christian Cook stand beside several tanks Friday inside the Silver Harbor Brewing Co. in downtown St. Joseph. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — The opening of Silver Harbor Brewing Co. couldn’t have come at a better time for co-owner Michael Gross.

When the doors opened Friday, the brewery/restaurant welcomed a crowd geared for the Detroit Tigers’ home opener. The day before, Gross held a soft opening that drew customers for National Beer Day.

One of the more popular items that Gross said will set the downtown St. Joseph brewery apart from others is its smoked beer.

Taking what’s called the Kumbaya Brown Ale, hickory wood smoke is injected into a glass chamber that surrounds a glass of beer at the table. Gross said its like drinking a campfire.

“It’s very unique,” he said. “You get a little bit of a roasted marshmallow flavor. The carbonation of the beer absorbs the flavor of the smoke. You let it sit there for a few minutes and experience the entire smoke atmosphere.”

Christian Cook of Kalamazoo serves as the business’ brew master with eight years of brewing experience.

In addition to making 10 specialty beers, including two nitro brews and one homemade root beer, the pub features a full-service restaurant with seating for 96 people. Depending on the season, Gross anticipates 16 different specialty beers.

Gross said the building at 721 Pleasant St. took the better part of a year to retrofit into a brewery. The building, which is more than 100 years old, has been used for various purposes from freezer storage space to more recently a yoga studio.

Christian Cook, brew master for Silver Harbor Brewing Co., pumps hickory wood smoke into a glass chamber around one the brewery’s brown ales to give it a campfire taste. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Christian Cook, brew master for Silver Harbor Brewing Co., pumps hickory wood smoke into a glass chamber around one the brewery’s brown ales to give it a campfire taste. (Tony Wittkowski | HP Staff)

Along with his business partner, Gross bought the building in February 2015 and started construction a few months later during the summer.

“We instantly fell in love when we walked into the building. Felt this was a great place to revive into a brewery. It has that industrial type feel to it.

The original projection to open had been for March, but Gross said they waited until they had the full beer lineup ready to go.

“The community support has exceeded every expectation two-fold. We had a packed house (Thursday) for a soft opening we didn’t advertise and we have standing room only right now. It’s been unbelievable.”

Hours for Silver Harbor Brewing Co. are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Those interested in checking out the brewery and its menu can visit its website at www.silverharborbrewing.com or call 281-7100.

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 April 9, 2016)

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