Atwater Brewery Becomes a Staple in Craft Beer

atwater brewery

atwater breweryFor many years now Detroit, Michigan hasn’t held the best reputation. However, along with craft brewing, the Motor City has pushed for resurgence over the past decade or so. A part of that movement has been the breweries popping up in and around the city. Among those is Atwater Brewery.


“The brewery was originally commissioned in 1997, and we’re located just a block up from the Detroit River, so that’s where the name — there is also Atwater Street — so that’s where the name, Atwater Street, at the water, that’s the reason for the name,” explained Mark Rieth, the owner of Atwater Brewery.


Additionally, the brewery is located directly across from the original Stroh Brewery. “The whole reason for the brewery coming to fruition back then was to bring back the Bohemian-style lager that Stroh [Brewery] made back in the day,” said Rieth. “At one point Detroit had more production breweries than anywhere in the country — back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.”


atwater breweryAtwater is striving to bring back the strong brewery heritage that Detroit was known for more than a century ago. “It’s known for the Motor City, but it should really be known for the beer city back in the day.”


Rieth invested in the brewery in 2002 and finally purchased the entire brewery in 2005. “At that time it was really just a local brand with small distribution, taproom and serving to the customers,” he said. “I wanted to bring it out state and beyond, so with proliferation of the craft beer industry that’s obviously helped and our brands are doing very, very well right now.”


Last year Atwater created about 30,000 barrels. This year the brewery has opened a second location in Corktown about two miles from the original. “That’s going to enable us to do right around 60,000 barrels this year,” said Rieth. “We have plans to build a plant in Austin, Texas sometime in [2015]. We’re in about 32 states and we are also exporting to Germany and we’ll be moving into Canada later this year.”


Although the brewery seems to be rapidly growing, Rieth believes that its presence since 1997 has allowed it to develop a presence and foundation for sustainable growth. “We’re in all the Meijers’ and Krogers’, so things are really good,” he said. “Like everything, it’s a small business it was a tough sweat in the beginning, but now we’re hitting our stride and customers are really, really digging our beers.”


Rieth said it was 2012 that really allowed Atwater to break out and reach growth that he desired for the brewery. Not only was it proper investment in the business over the first five years, but it also had a lot to do with the support of craft beer in America and worldwide. “We doubled our capacity at our current spot, which enabled us to go from 3,000 barrels to 6,000 barrels,” he said. “That enabled us to get some good distribution partnerships, and then we started getting some good chain placements that year and the product moving off the shelves.”


Although craft beer only comprises about 9 percent of the total beer market in the U.S., Rieth believes that in the next couple of years, the growth will kick into even more high gear breaking into the 20 percent of market share and beyond.

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