Stormcloud Brewing Company in downtown Frankfort. Owners Rick Schmitt and Brian Confer (who is also the head brewer) open their 3100-square-foot microbrewery on Friday, June 21.
Confer, a homebrewer for more than 10 years, is focusing his talents on Belgian-inspired ales – something that no other brewer in the region is doing. These well-balanced beers are brewed with specific attention to the yeast profiles – which Confer says gives each beer its personality, particularly at the finish (while hops and malt lend the flavors).
The name Stormcloud reflects the motion of the creative process of brewing, as well as the moods of the Northern Michigan skies. A focal point of the taproom is a giant image of storm clouds rolling in over the lake, taken by Confer himself – a noted photographer and owner of studio b photography. This part of the building dates back to the 1940s and was originally the 7-Spot restaurant and bar and was later a TV shop in the 1970s.
In addition to the unique light fixtures, the taproom features intricate yet vintage-looking ceiling fans which are operated by a single motor and pulley system. The bar and table tops boasts repurposed wood from the nearby Beulah bowling alley lanes and the 16 tap handles were crafted out of old cutting boards.
The brewing facility occupies a 2000-square-foot, two-story addition which features ground-to-ceiling windows on the south side, providing full viewing for guests to observe the gleaming tanks and the beer making process.
Outside, a 1200-square-foot covered beer garden provides seating for 50, weather permitting. A large green-space to the west of the building is expected to be planted with hop bines and an herb garden at some point in the future. To the west of the brewery lies a valuable promotional partner, the historic Garden Theater (of which Schmitt, the former Vice President of Marketing & Sales for the nearby Crystal Mountain Resort, is also co-owner).
More than a dozen people will be employed at Stormcloud, including three in the brewing operations. Chef John Snyder is managing the kitchen operations, with a pub menu focused on foods that pair well with the beer offerings – including a dedicated pizza with ingredients from Echo Bend Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) establishment located just 10 minutes from the brewery. A copy of the menu is available upon request.
Stormcloud Brewing is located at 303 Main St., Frankfort – just two blocks from Lake Michigan.