New brewery brings out the true artist in Andrew Thomas

April 12, 2014
Andrew Thomas has found a new art. Photography by Sue Brown.

Andrew Thomas has found a new art. Photography by Sue Brown.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

AMBER TWP. — It actually seems like a natural transition for artist extraordinaire Andrew Thomas to open a brewery. Andrew, 33, is always evolving as an artist and this newest venture is just another step in his artistic growth.

The setting for the brewery — a tree-lined narrow Stiles Road south of U.S. 10-31 — is certainly one that inspires creativity. Behind Andrew’s historic farm house is a little red barn which is now home of Starving Artists Brewery, the county’s second brewery.

What makes Starving Artist Brewing Company unique is that it will only be a brewery. It will not be attached to a restaurant nor will it have a storefront. What also makes it unique is that it will most likely be the smallest brewery in Michigan.

“We will only be brewing 3 barrels, or 90 gallons of beer, at a time,” Andrew says. “Realistically, it will be closer to 60 gallons.”

A recent change in Michigan law has allowed for easier self-distributorship of micro-breweries. Andrew plans on creating special brews for area restaurants. For example, Chuck Wagon Pizza and Blu Moon Bistro will offer dedicated taps.

There are currently just over 100 micro-breweries in Michigan. With the increase in micro-breweries has been the increase in Michigan hops production. In Mason County, there are at least six or seven farms either growing hops or planning to grow hops, three of those farms are within a 3 mile radius of Starving Artist Brewing Company.

Andrew says he plans on using as much of those local hops as possible.

Andrew and his wife, Michelle, currently own A.M. Galleries in downtown Ludington. Running that business has given him the experience to move into another venture.

“My business plan is simple,” he says. “The uniqueness of our business is going to be the simplicity of what we do. There are many who say we will be too small but I disagree. Being small and limiting our production will give us the freedom to do more than what the big guys can do. We can take a risk on a particular recipe because we won’t be brewing 100 gallons of it. If we only brew a small amount and it doesn’t work out, we can change.”

Brewing beer has been Andrew’s hobby for many years. He became interested in the craft when he worked at James Port many years ago. “I wasn’t really a beer fan until I started working at the brew pub. I can credit my love of beer to brewmaster Tom Buchanan. I just fell in love with the process and the industry.

“I also just love the community that craft beer creates. There are very few industries that you can look at on the inside. Your biggest competitor can be your best friend. It’s a unique quality. The same goes for the people who drink craft beer. These aren’t the type of people who are looking to drink long-necks on a Saturday night. These are people who are looking for something unique. It’s awesome that you can go to a different region and experience a whole different type of beer.”

Andrew says the craft beer industry is rapidly growing, especially in Michigan.

“Craft beer has gone from a fad to something that is now part of a lifestyle. Our kids are going to grow up and know craft beer as a norm when they are adults. The shift is happening.”

That shift will mean that you will soon be able to drink a beer from Starving Artist Brewing Company at local restaurants and pubs from Manistee to Pentwater — which will mean you will be able to taste a true work of art.

Website: www.starvingartistbeer.com

Facebook: /starvingartistbeer

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