Decatur brewer draws Chicago

Published 11:28pm Monday, January 30, 2012

DECATUR — When Brooke Rosenbaum opened Patchwork Brewing Co. last summer, it had been a long time coming.
The 32-year-old Buchanan resident bought the 100-year-old building in downtown Decatur in 2007, knowing it would be quite a project to restore it.
The building was brought up to code in stages — or one could say, it was patched together. Rosenbaum said the business was also named after the patchwork curtains she sewed for the windows of the building.
First, the old flooring was ripped out and new wood installed. Then Rosenbaum had the original tin ceiling sanded and painted gold. A multi-colored checkered-wood bar, built by Doyle Construction in Berrien Springs, was installed.
She brought in art and posters from her own home to create a warm, homey yet hip environment in the cozy 1,600-square-foot space.
“My home is basically bare now,” Rosenbaum said with a laugh.
Located on the corner of M-51 and Phelps Street, Rosenbaum said it’s an ideal location because “everyone can see it.” The business draws a fair number of tourists and the Chicago crowd, and she’s expecting a big summer now that her brewery is on the Michigan Beer Guide map.
Rosenbaum began brewing her own beer 10 years ago after tasting the difference between craft beer and a typical Budweiser.
“I like to make things from scratch,” she said, “like baking, cooking, sewing. So I bought a book on how to brew beer.”
After some successful batches at home, she decided to pursue her childhood dream of opening her own business.
Many of her concoctions, which have names like Old Swamp IPA, Ira’s Revenge and Liquid Breakfast Oatmeal Stout, were the results of trial and error.
Rosenbaum said the response from the community has been “mostly positive” with beer tourers loving the small-town brewery feel and a few locals complaining about the beer prices.
“But I’m sure they’re used to drinking Coors or Miller Light or PBR or something,” she said. “But a lot of people have really liked it and are glad to have some different options in Decatur.”
Rosenbaum’s favorite beer is the Old Swamp IPA, which is named after a road just outside of town.
“It’s a really super hoppy beer,” she said. “The primary hop is chinook, which is kind of a citrusy taste.”
Also popular is the Redlight Barleywine, which is great for the wives of beer drinkers who prefer the sweeter taste of wine, Rosenbaum said. The Liquid Breakfast Stout is another intriguing option, brewed with oatmeal, coffee and maple syrup.
She has more than 10 listed beers but with only five taps and a one-barrel brewing system, she has to cycle them.
Rosenbaum uses her cooking skills in the Patchwork kitchen as well, serving up organic and vegetarian sandwiches and pizzas.
Since opening the brewery, Rosenbaum has developed an interest in the history of brewing, specifically the pre-Prohibition days when many towns had
microbreweries.
“Obviously in the 1800s they weren’t shipping their beer in,” she said. “They were making it so every town had its own different kind of beer.”
Rosenbaum is doing her part in restoring the flavor of one southwest Michigan town, and the taste of Decatur is pretty darned good.

Editor's Picks