Paddle Hard Distributing is on tap in downtown Grayling
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
This allows us to make a larger quantity at one time, and we’ll also be able to distribute some of the beer into the market. We’ll keep it small, so we can acclimate ourselves with the supply and demand.” – Dave Vargo, Owner of Paddle Hard Brewing
After a year of giving a major facelift to a building in downtown Grayling and putting in a $1 million investment, Paddle Hard Brewing has the capability to distribute and brew its beer served in the community.
Paddle Hard Distributing, located 118 East Michigan Ave., opened for business on Monday, Jan. 2.
All of the beer served at Paddle Hard Brewing, which was opened at 227 E. Michigan Ave. in 2014, is made in the building as well as beer that will be distributed.
“This is a full scale production facility with a small tap room up front,” said Dave Vargo, the owner of Paddle Hard Brewing.
The facility’s 10-barrel brewing system allows Paddle Hard Brewing to produce a variety of 23 beers that can be on tap. The beer that will distributed in full and smaller kegs, 32-ounce “Crowlers,” and a mobile canning system can be brought on site to produce 12-ounce cans.
Vargo said he already has some accounts established in the Gaylord and Lewiston areas for distribution.
“This allows us to make a larger quantity at one time, and we’ll also be able to distribute some of the beer into the market,” he said. “We’ll keep it small, so we can acclimate ourselves with the supply and demand.”
Since launching the brewpub in downtown Grayling, Paddle Hard Brewing was able to reach its three to five-year business goals within its first year of operation.
“The beer is taking off in a direction I did not anticipate,” Vargo said.
The business was not able to retrofit its first building to increase its brewing capacity, making it possible to only produce two to three beers at a time that were on tap.
“We decided to purchase this building and put all of the brewing equipment down here,” Vargo said.
Porters and IPAs have been the biggest home runs for Paddle Hard Brewing, along with sour flavored beers, and a pilsner called Townie Lite. The Marathon IPA and Milltown Java Porter, which pay homage to Grayling’s history, are also popular selections for craft brew connoisseurs.
For people looking to get their caffeine fix, there is also Paddle Hard Roasters located in the facility, Graying’s first coffee roastery.
Vargo is bringing in fair trade organic coffee beans and roasting them at the microbrewery.
“We bring them in and roast them here on site and flavor them on site,” he said.
The coffee is available by the cup or in a pour over version served in the tap room. There is also a nitro coffee for consumers looking for a quick blast of caffeine that is placed in a keg and chilled.
“It’s real frothy and has a little bit of sweetness and there’s no acid whatsoever,” Vargo said. “It has twice the caffeine and it’s fantastic.”
Charcuterie, small custom made cheese and meat platters, will be served in the Paddle Hard Distributing tap room.
The selection of artisan foods will continue to be served at Paddle Hard Brewing’s original location.
“Everything is made fresh down there and is made fresh daily,” Vargo said.
Paddle Hard Brewing has 25 full and part-time employees working at its two facilities in Grayling.
Vargo said Paddle Hard Brewing aims to serve as a destination business for tourists and local residents who paddle the AuSable River and Manistee River, visit Hartwick Pines, enjoy the area’s natural resources, and patronize other businesses.
“We want to make sure Grayling gets put on the map and that people come here to experience everything we have,” Vargo said.