Tapping into the Craft Beer Trend

Sharon and Richard Caldwell wanted to celebrate this new craft beer industry, and decided to open a bar that featured only local brews was the best way to “tap” into the delicious trend.

Michigan is known for many things: its abundance of freshwater beaches, the auto industry, Motown, and, more recently, for its increasing number of microbreweries. Sharon and Richard Caldwell wanted to celebrate this new craft beer industry, and decided to open a bar that featured only local brews was the best way to “tap” into the delicious trend.

Classic hot dog
Classic hot dog

Whichcraft Taproom opened last fall, and has been going strong ever since, packing in local beer lovers at almost three times the volume originally anticipated. And while the name may conjure up images of pointy hats and brewing cauldrons, the owners were going for a play on words, as in “which craft beer would you like?”

“My wife, Sharon, and I, thought a taproom would be a great addition to the downtown [Midland] area,” says co-owner Richard Caldwell, Jr. “So, we started to look around for a venue and chose our location because of the history of the building. It was originally a stable, so it had lots of character, and we thought the unique texture to the walls paired well with craft brews, which are also full of character.”

Caldwell personally handcrafted the bar and all of Whichcraft’s tables to add to its unique décor. He had the rough-hewn wood and leather barstools built locally, too.

Hummus, whipped feta with roasted red peppers, tabbouli salad, and beer cheese dips with pita and pretzel dippers.
Hummus, whipped feta with roasted red peppers, tabbouli salad, and beer cheese dips with pita and pretzel dippers.

Whichcraft always has 40 Michigan-made beers on tap, with the menu rotating almost continually based on sales. The menu is always seasonal, and the beer is always fresh. It’s not uncommon for the Whichcraft staff to switch out 20 – 30 kegs on a weekend night. The taproom also carries a selection of locally-produced wines and mead, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, including a root beer from Schmohz Brewery in Grand Rapids.

And while it is first and foremost a taproom, Whichcraft does offer a light food selection, including soups, salads, panini sandwiches, and appetizers. The taproom also has a variety of specialty nights: Tuesday is freshly-made sushi, Thursday is barbecue, and on Fridays, small plates from the Crave Cave are served.

Special events, such as Tap Takeover nights, are frequently scheduled. A recent event was the Bell’s Tap Takeover, featuring 24 beers from Bell’s Brewery. During the event, $1 of every beer sold was donated to Shelterhouse, a Midland-based nonprofit organization.

Ultimate grilled cheese panini
Ultimate grilled cheese panini

“We were happy to be able to give to the community,” says Caldwell. “And we’re just happy to be here, to give people a place to gather and taste a little bit of Michigan.”

Whichcraft Taproom, 124 Ashman St, Midland, 989-832-3395. Hours: Monday – Thursday (4 – 11 p.m.), Friday (4 p.m. – 12 a.m.), Saturday (11 a.m. – 12 a.m.), and Sunday (3 – 10 p.m.).

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