Not only is the Mitten Brewing Co. celebrating its fifth anniversary with a week’s worth of events, the company is releasing its first canned beer.
Today, the Mitten Brewing Co. will release Peanuts and Crackerjack at 11:30 a.m. at its taproom, 527 Leonard St.
Each guest is allowed four 4-packs — at $9.99 — of the first run, which includes 5,000 cans. Customers can purchase cans as long as supplies last, but the anniversary events run Monday to Sunday.
Peanuts and Crackerjack, a robust porter made with peanut butter, isn’t the reason the brewery has started packaging in cans, said Chris Andrus, one of the brewery’s founders. Instead, the beer is meant to be a call back to how the business got its start.
The beer is the sole survivor from the days Andrus and co-founder Max Trierweiler spent in the garage brewing beer. It’s also a beer – in part because of the backstory – that’s gained cult favoritism among Mitten regulars, Andrus said.
“In a lot of respects, this beer got us here,” he said. “This run of cans is a thank you and reward for the people who have helped us be successful.”
During the garage days, the home brewers would throw a single jar of Smuckers into the boil kettle before the beer’s fermentation.
The recipe has changed a little bit in the more than five years the owners last brewed the beer in a garage. Now, Detroit-based Germack Pistachio Company brings over trailers of peanut butter. The Mitten Brewing Co. also adds peanut flavoring in four ways. Andrus said brewers use natural peanut butter, ground roasted peanuts, peanut extract and dehydrated peanut butter.
“It’s gotten a lot bigger and sloppier,” Andrus said. “It really hasn’t changed that much, but it has gotten a lot better.”
The brewery has bottled several releases in its first five years, but the decision to buy a canning line — from West Michigan’s MicroCanner — was to help diversify the company’s growth moving forward in an ever-tightening beer market. It’s also to allow loyal taproom customers an easier way to take home their favorite beers.
“We knew we wanted to offer existing customers another way to enjoy our beer,” Andrus said. “But five years in now, we feel the brand is strong enough that we’re comfortable going statewide with our beers.”
Statewide distribution with its beers is the goal, but the Mitten will start slowly and scale up as demand from the brewery’s distributors dictates, he said.
The first mass release will be the brewery’s IPA, Country Strong, in January. The IPA release will be followed by Triple Crown Brown, Mango Wheat and, again, Peanuts and Crackerjack.
The label design, by Full Circle Marketing, is easy enough to change, so the four brands could change, based on what consumers want, Andrus said.
“We’ll go out and get feedback from the customers,” he said. “We’re small and we like our flexibility.”