“Money is obviously a big part of starting a business, so we really appreciated Northern Initiatives’ help in that area. They also provided training in QuickBooks and helped us market the brewery by creating a website. Northern Initiatives has online instructions and other resources that made it easy to accomplish all of that.” – Jeff Brickey, owner of 51st State Brewing Company
Jeff Brickey’s retirement hobby of home brewing escalated over several years to the point he was crafting more quantities than he could reasonably consume or share. He decided the only way to avoid waste and satisfy his increasing urge to dabble in more styles of beer was to start his own brewery. After scouting locations throughout the Upper Peninsula, he settled on a vacant building in Kingsford and opened 51st State Brewing Co. in January 2018.
“The response from the community has been overwhelming,” he said. “Everybody’s been loving the beer, pizza, atmosphere and staff. We’ve received so many five-star ratings it’s unbelievable! We are ecstatic over how well the community has responded. Of course, we had challenges in licensing both a kitchen and brewery, but you expect that with a new business. Now after 18 months of writing checks, it feels good to finally be making deposits.”
His wife, Victoria, came up with the name. It is a nod to unsuccessful U.P. attempts over the years to secede from Lower Michigan and become the 51st state. Victoria also oversees the kitchen and staff and the couple’s children play active roles in the business.
The brewery offers six signature beers and other seasonal or special-event varieties on tap. Jeff brews them in two- or four-barrel batches to ensure freshness and an ever-changing, unique selection. The Neapolitan-style, wood-fired pizzas have proved especially popular.
Northern Initiatives assisted in funding the down payment for the brewing system. It provided another loan when 51st State Brewing Co. opened for startup costs.
“Money is obviously a big part of starting a business, so we really appreciated Northern Initiatives’ help in that area,” Jeff said. “They also provided training in Quick Books and helped us market the brewery by creating a website. We started Facebook and Instagram accounts and took steps to make sure we show up high in Google searches. Northern Initiatives has online instructions and other resources that made it easy to accomplish all of that.”