Brewery Terra Firma is currently scheduled to begin operation Spring of 2013.
The Brewery Terra Firma project is unique in its approach as a brewery and as an agricultural destination. The goal of this project is to produce a product, beer, that reflects the character or "terroir" associated with the source of its ingredients for production while presenting an opportunity for patrons to identify and connect with a farming operation that enhances the agricultural productivity of the land. Through the integration of sustainable production methods, environmentally conscious waste management and innovative water recycling/reclamation techniques, we hope to become a model for breweries and agricultural destinations throughout the Grand Traverse Region.
Emphasis on the importance and integration of value added agriculture is a cornerstone of this project. Just as wineries are dependent upon the quality of grapes and the skill of the winemaker, Brewery Terra Firma will utilize specialty ingredients grown on-site such as hops, elderberry and even chili peppers in beers created by brewmaster John Niedermaier. John is renowned for his cultivation of diversity and quality in the beers he produces and this project seeks to capitalize on his creative talents by creating an integrated agricultural business operation that provides the unique ingredients for his original recipes.
While many breweries now seek to source some ingredients close to home as evidenced recently by the rise of the local hops industry, Brewery Terra Firma actually seeks to produce as many ingredients on site as possible. This will be done by using a variety of techniques including selecting native berry species for use in specific soil conditions, utilizing fruit and nut producing trees as property/ landscape buffers and rotating row crops for maximum sustainable soil fitness. There will be a mix of “permanent” plantings requiring some trellis infrastructure for hops, grapes and other fruit/nut trees; “rotational” row crops like corn, beans and legumes; “bee-forage” crops such as lavender, sage and lemon-balm for essential oils and honey production as well as a dedicated “garden” area for the production of peppers, melons, squashes etc.
Grain, specifically malted barley, is a main constituent of beer. Due to a combination of limited space and the absence of a specialized "malting house", Brewery Terra Firma will source malted barley locally when possible, and from responsible growers in any case. The volume of grain required is such that we would exhaust the amount of barley that could be grown on our property within the first quarter of operations. We are currently in discussion with a local farm to arrange for sufficient locally grown barley to meet our production needs. Because barley is a significant component of the brewing process this also means that in a typical brewery operation “spent” grain, grain that has been through the brewing cycle and has had the sugars extracted, is also a major waste product. Brewery Terra Firma will utilize its agricultural operation to recycle this "waste", turning it into a valuable resource. The “spent” grains will be composted along with other farm byproducts like; corn stalks, hop vines, nutshells and fruit pits for reintroduction into a sustainable soils maintenance program.
Similarly, water is a major component of the brewing process and of waste management. Through the use of conservation and innovative equipment we expect to reduce our water use by 20% of the current industry standard incorporating a passive water treatment system that will enhance our farm’s irrigation and fertilization cycle. We believe we are unique to the surrounding area in this effort and hope that techniques developed here can serve as a model for others seeking to integrate agriculture into brewery or winery development and production.
The development of local businesses that utilize local resources helps to strengthen our regional economy. Business models like the Brewery Terra Firma example do more than just add to the local economy and provide employment opportunities. They also contribute to the preservation of the agricultural land base and retention of community character by integrating farming operations into the proposed business model. This project envisions an agricultural destination that demonstrates leadership and innovation in the brewing industry. We believe, based on research and feedback from efforts like the Grand Vision, that the residents of Northwest Michigan want to see agriculture, farms and farmers not just survive but prosper and that the innovative and integrated nature of the Brewery Terra Firma project will help support and enhance the future of local agriculture.