Batch Brewing Company is proud of its status as "Detroit's First Nano-Brewery." The microbrewery, which aims to open on Michigan Ave. sometime before the end of the calendar year, used that full-faith pride to scrounge up $25,000 in an Indiegogo crowd-funding drive, is now turning to other local funding sources in order to keep the project moving forward.
Batch is one of dozens of local startup entrepreneurs who applied for the latest round of Hatch Detroit funds. The top ten entrants won't be announced until early August, but Batch co-founders Stephen Roginson and Jason Williams spoke to Eater Detroit about their ongoing buildout in Corktown, their plans for future funding and how Detroit is vastly underserved in terms of neighborhood bars-per-capita.
Have your original plans changed at all now that you're applying for Hatch funds? Stephen Roginson: Not at all. They're the exact same, the same scale. The only thing we added on to the Indiegogo pitch was the incubator aspect; we didn't understand the legal issues of helping other businesses, other breweries, get started in the city. But it's still a nano-brewery, it's still the same location. We're still the same guys. The Feel Good Tap is still part of the main program. But we've added this effort to try and help other microbreweries with their projects in the city.
What drove you to apply for the Hatch contest?SR: The resource aspect is incredibly valuable, but if we're chosen as one of 10 finalists, that is already a strong media campaign. Even if we don't win the funds, we have a strong media exposure through the contest.
Do you know any other entrants in this round of the contest?SR:There's a lot of different food concepts, and I know they were looking to include some kind of clothing concept. The thing is, Detroit is rife with this kind of talent right now. Detroit is attracting a lot of talent.
How did you get involved with Batch Brewing? Jason Williams: I've known Stephen for a long time, and when I saw what he was doing, when I drank his beer at a party, I got excited about it. I've always wanted to be around it. I love the concept, loved the beer. SR: Jason has a lot of operational knowledge that will be incredibly important for our production down the road. That part of the process that you don't muck around with, and he's going to be a big part of that.
There's been an explosion of local breweries in recent years. Why do you think the demand for local beers continues to grow? Or will it eventually slow down?SR: People have been convinced for generations that all beer is is fizzy and yellow. We still have giant conglomerates with smart marketing campaigns battling for their portion of the market share. But people like to drink local, they like to be in their neighborhood. We're not focusing on anything larger than Corktown. We wanna make good beer. We're pretty fortunate to put beer in front of people, and neighborhood people wanna see a successful neighborhood.
When will you know you've succeeded?SR: The first time somebody gives us money for a pint of beer is when we've succeeded. Goals and aspirations beyond that are just plans. That first time. Our immediate goal is to have the doors open sometime before the calendar flips.
Is there room in the city's market for more breweries like this?SR: Detroit is underserved for local beer. There are four breweries int eh city, and there is room for more. You hear great stories about how local breweries help spur urban revitalization — helping to keep other businesses in the area. It's good for the city and it's good for beer. I'm sick of Detroit not even playing in the big national scene. Beer brings people together. It always has. If you give people a place to drink beer and enjoy each other's company, they'll come and they'll stick around. For us, at first, if you want to drink our beer and eat food, you'll have to stick around and go to another area business, because we won't be serving food. We'll be a small percentage of what makes Corktown tick, but every little bit helps.
· Batch Brewing Company [Official]
· Corktown Can't Stop Winning: Nano-Brewery Expected [Curbed Detroit]
· Hatch Detroit [Official]