Farm to Pint: Waypost Brewery
“Good beer speaks for itself, the best ones sing.” – Hannah, part-owner and brewer at Waypost Brewing Company
I had the absolute privilege two weekends ago to tour a new-to-me brewery that not only cares about the ingredients used in their beer, they grow most of their own too! Waypost Brewing Company is located in Fennville, Michigan and this destination brewery embraces the farm to table (or “pint”) movement in more ways than one.
I got the chance to sit down with owners wife & husband duo, Chuck and Hannah. We got to talk about their beer, the facility, and how their farm inspires the brewing process and more. We started by sitting in their beautiful patio space, had some laughs and of course chatted over a beer. I tried the Blackberry Pie Sour which was literally pie in a glass just missing a graham cracker rim!
One of the first things I asked about is why they chose the name Waypost. I believe that names (just like our own) help to shape the identity and culture of a brewery. “Waypost is between two different highways, it’s a meeting point for travelers,” says Chuck. They shared with me that this brewery has been a dream for a long time and they wanted to produce beer that lets you know where you are. When you walk into their facility, you can smell the open air from the farm, feel the sense of community, and I immediately felt comfortable. There’s a lot of natural light and air flowing into the space so that no matter where you sit, you’re a part of their vision.
Of course, the facility wasn’t a brewery waiting for them to walk inside and begin. The shell was there but it used to be a functioning bakery and farmer’s market and the additional barn on site remains a storage unit for now. They spent a long time gutting the inside and working to get the design they wanted, though Hannah shared that she was more excited about getting in and getting the beer flowing!
Hannah has been brewing professionally now for six years and continues to be the “glorified janitor” in this facility. If you don’t know, brewing is about 90% (or more) cleaning so we joked that she’s a glorified janitor but she wouldn’t have it any other way. While Chuck will jump into brewing if needed, his main focus is taproom management and sales. Though he also has the fun job of driving Vern the tractor around tending to parts of the farm!
Speaking of their brewing, its a 10 bbl (barrel) brew house with two 20 bbl fermenters, three 10 bbl fermenters and a new baby you’ll see below, their 8 bbl foeder. She’s excited to brew a lager, a clean beer, in the foeder first to experiment with the oak. A foeder is more often used for sour beers which may come in the future.
I asked Hannah how they got into brewing beer and as it turns out, both Chuck and Hannah’s backgrounds are in the wine industry. In fact, it’s how they met! Hannah shared, “while we both have wine backgrounds, beer is what we chose to start producing for several reasons. First is logistical – beer takes two weeks grain to glass. Versus wine, which is three years from planting the vines to first crop.” We also chatted that with beer, new styles are always being created (hello, hazy IPAs) and that beer styles are not set in stone as much as in the wine world. “We like to explore hybrid beer-wine styles, using fresh juice in beer fermentations” like their Grape Wine IPA, VIPA, a vino-style IPA. Chuck mentioned that eventually wine will be apart of their production but for now they’re excited to continue tending to their farm and brewing beer.
As far as their farm goes, it’s a 58 acre farm you can see wherever you sit in the brewery (minus the bar of course) and is home to blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries. They also grow some of their own botanicals to use in the beer as well. This is something I loved about Waypost. The farm-to-table movement continues to grow in the nutrition world and if we care what’s going into our food, we should care about what’s going into our beer/drinks as well. I think it’s easier to practice mindful drinking when you start to take into account all that goes into producing the beer. There’s not only on-site and local ingredients, but the energy, heart, and dedication that Chuck and Hannah have cannot be understated.
I asked Hannah if she had any favorite beers that she brewed, her response, “I don’t have favorite children! But saison will always have a special place in my heart.” I tried her saison and thought it was fruity, peppery, and had a dry finish. It was an easy drinking, light and effervescent brew that I definitely would get if you’re heading there. I encourage you to take a trip to Waypost Brewing Company this summer and especially for their one year anniversary party in September! Try a flight, take your time, and definitely take in the beautiful view.