“I love getting a chance to work with other brewers," Colburn says. "Everyone has their own tastes and perspectives. Opening yourself to someone else’s gives you a chance to expand your own.” Colburn recently worked with not one, but two other local businesses to feature the Barrel Aged Belgian. Together with Plymouth’s Liberty Street Brewing Company, they aged the golden ale in bourbon barrels from Two James Distillery.
The Corktown distillery works with several local breweries, providing barrels for beer aging and sometimes contributing unique ingredients. Batch’s Second to Last Word beer is a take on Detroit’s classic Last Word cocktail that uses spent botanicals from Two James’s gin and absinthe productions. Just as with inter-brewery collaboration, Roginson finds that working together will other businesses can only bring good things to all involved. "To be in a situation where you set aside your ego and say, ‘We want to learn from each other, we want to do something fun,’" he says, "or even more, ‘I respect the fuck out of these guys.' Then everybody learns something. More than anything, it generates excitement.”
As more breweries flock to join Feelgood Tap, the collective donating power really starts to show. Both Donovan and Roginson expect the program to expand significantly in the next year. January’s Michigan Brewers Guild conference will have a full tap takeover at Hopcat in Grand Rapids. Participating breweries will each bring their designated Feelgood Tap beer, and the whole event will be gathering money for that month’s charity. Roginson is fielding calls almost daily about rolling out the Feelgood Tap nationwide.
Calling the project “an alcohol-fueled United Way,” Roginson explains, “a dollar is not a big contribution. But it does add up. And while it adds up at the end of the month for one charity, say 800 bucks, you take that and you multiply it times 10 or 50, and all of a sudden you’re talking about money that can fund an entire initiative, that can support a new hire, that can do something real for an organization.” It’s fitting, then, that the nonprofit’s motto is “Creating Change One Glass at a Time.”
Collaboration, for this expanding group of local brewers, generates not just excitement, but also some pretty fantastic beers. And by working together rather than against one another, breweries can use their collective power for positive change in the local community. We’ll raise a glass to that.