Forthcoming brewery, Ferndale Project, is finally ready to introduce the main event — beer. The Livernois Avenue brewpub announced that it will be officially opening the taps on Saturday, February 22 after several weeks of coffee and lunch pop-ups in the space.
Developed by the team behind Eastern Market Brewing Company, Ferndale Project took over the space that Axle Brewing Company’s Livernois Tap occupied. Axle, closed last year, citing financial issues stemming from reduced parking on Livernois and issues with self-distribution. (EMBC’s team spearheaded an effort last year to update regulations on self-distribution and relieve some of the pressure on small scale brewers.)
Ferndale Project will in many ways reflect the vision of its predecessor with production on site, a full menu, extensive indoor seating, and an outdoor biergarten. However, its owners have made slight tweaks to the model with additions like an Ashe Supply Co. espresso bar. Mike Kelly, previously brewer at Ascension Brewing, is taking the lead as head brewer at Ferndale Project and introducing sours to the menu. Ferndale Project has also tapped Dominic Calzetta of the shuttered Cellarmen’s taproom in Hazel Park, to produce ciders and soda for the brewery.
Ferndale Project inherited Axle’s Brewing equipment — a much more expansive setup than what’s currently operating at EMBC — and plans to put it to good use. Owner Dayne Bartscht tells Eater customers can expect some EMBC classics on tap such as the White Coffee Stout, Detroit Diesel, Market Day IPA, and Elephant Juice alongside 10 Ferndale Project originals.
When it came to developing the Ferndale Project’s recipes, Bartscht says they leaned on session beers. “The strategy behind that is just that this coffee thing has really taken off and we realize that we might have people that hang out all day and they might transition from coffee the beer and then have their friends come over later,” he says. “So we wanted a couple beers where someone would be like, ‘All right, it’s afternoon time for a beer.’ I want something that won’t necessarily get me drunk and I can still respond to emails.” The opening lineup includes two double dry-hopped New England IPAs, a house gose, a blood orange gose called Blood Orange Mimosa, a raspberry gose, a passionfruit sour, and a pomegranate sour IPA. There’s also a 9 percent ABV coconut imperial stout.
Three ciders will also be available for the opening: a pineapple cider (a recipe from Cellarmen’s), an American heritage dry cider, and a coffee cider using roasts from Ashe Supply. There’s also a Ferndale Project root beer and another soda on draft. Bartscht says that Ferndale Project will focus on selling beer in the taproom, while EMBC plans to continue expanding its distribution.
The 10,000-square-foot brewery also features a kitchen led by chef Garrett McDonald of the Elephant Shack food truck and Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails. He and sous chefs Trevor Smith, formerly of Greenspace Cafe, and Lawrence Miller, an alum from the Livernois Tap kitchen staff developed the menu. It’s comprised of items designed to pair well with beer and coffee. Roughly 50 percent of the items are vegan or vegan optional. Look out for options like Nashville hot tofu sandwiches, jumbo soft pretzels with spicy mustard and vegan beer cheese, vegan shawarma, diner-style smashburgers, and tempura deviled eggs with miso yolks, nori, and bonito.
The restaurant and bar are counter service with the kitchen opening at 11 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday to accommodate lunch crowds. Bartscht says that staff have been cross trained at EMBC with the goal of maintain the culture at both locations.
While Ferndale Project is finally opening, the brewery is still has more plans for expansion. Within the next two months, Bartscht says Ferndale Project plans to begin a barrel-aging program on the premises. Those beers could be available by summer.
Ferndale Project is located at 567 Livernois Ave.; opens at 8 a.m. with coffee Wednesday through Sunday; kitchen opens at 11 a.m. daily; brewery closes at 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, midnight on Friday and Saturday, and at 9 p.m. on Sunday.
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