Meet the Brewer
Updated: Aug 25
If you have the pleasure of meeting the Grand River Brewery head brewer, Wyatt, you’ll know he’s a brewer through and through from the very first moment. With beer tattoos decorating his arms and a smile that says “I’m living my dream, here,” Wyatt is dedicated to his craft and keeping the life blood of GRB flowing. For the debut post in the Grand River Brewery Blog, you’ll get to know Wyatt and learn a little about GRB’s brewing operations. As the Creative Content Writer for GRB, I’m honored to start this series with such an important member of the team.
When I walked into the brewery for the first time, following Wyatt as he gave me a tour of the L-shaped facility, what caught me was the energy, the music, and Wyatt’s comfortable body language. Standing with his arms crossed as he explained the flow of the brewery, he seemed completely at home. This is an impressive feat on its own considering the bustling going on as the Assistant Brewer, Caleb, worked around us. Having worked in the brewery since 2017 with many years of brewing experience prior, the noise, heat, and smells of the operation have become Wyatt’s home.
My impression is that part of Wyatt’s comfort in this environment comes not only from his years of brewing experience but also his background and education in English Creative Writing, his major in college. His Writing degree helps him a lot with his work for GRB, especially when it comes to writing the descriptions for and stories behind the beers he crafts. Crafting a story and crafting a beer can be similar endeavors, Wyatt and I agreed, as it requires a knowledge of basic structure that can and should be played with.
Especially with beers like the Drive Thru Brew, Wyatt is always searching for ways to creatively use ingredients that call to a narrative. The GRB Drive Thru Brew is a modern take on a
traditional schwarzbier, and the name behind the craft brew comes from the story of when a car crashed into the barrel room of GRB! A dark lager that keeps you on your toes and showcases the unexpected, this beer is a perfect example of how Wyatt and the GRB brewing team use their creations to tell stories about the happenings of Jackson and Michigan as a whole. Though there are additional GRB brewing operations based out of Detroit, about 70% of the beer is made right in the brewery in Jackson. Most of the variety and experimentation happens in Jackson, too, as the brewing operations in Detroit are mostly for distribution. Even in Detroit, where the Polish Lager is brewed, GRB is always catering to a great story; the Polish Lager is made to honor the Polish immigrants in Detroit who helped power the Industrial Revolution.
With most of the brewing happening at GRB, Wyatt and his team are always working on something fresh and new. In order to make the best possible product, Wyatt explained that he always keeps the bigger picture in his mind. If you ask Wyatt about what brewing really means, what function it may serve in a community, he will tell you it’s a very social endeavor and it brings people together. He told me that oftentimes the recipe crafting process begins with sitting around with the other brewers testing out beers and dreaming, which, to me, is a dream of its own. Drinking beer is a social experience, often shared among family and friends, so hearing that Wyatt’s creative process is social, too, made everything really click into place. There is something special about the beer at Grand River Brewery, that’s undeniable, and of course it all comes down to the source: the brewers and their mentality.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all glamor. Dreaming up recipes while tasting beers is only a small part of the often grueling process of brewing beer. Wyatt puts in a tremendous amount of work making sure his brewing team are all educated, skilled, trained, and working together. The brewery walls are plastered with huge calendars, whiteboards, recipes, and more. Walking into the space, it becomes clear that it takes a lot of brain power and detail oriented labor to keep everything flowing.
Beyond working to educate himself and the brewing team, Wyatt takes on an educational role with the GRB staff and the greater community by holding sensory analysis classes and sessions. Wyatt told me that part of his motivation for hosting these classes is to provide the best possible experience to everyone who drinks GRB beer. The idea, as he put it, is that the more you know about beer the more opportunity you may have to enjoy its nuance and craft. Wyatt is the kind of person who wants everyone to share his passion and he works hard to make that possible.
Having always had a passion for education, Wyatt took a year after college to learn the ins and outs of home brewing. Spending days and nights at his old university library with his friends who were still in school, Wyatt would read about beer, brewing, ingredients, and more. It’s this kind of dedication that led to Wyatt’s home brewing taking off. To my surprise and admiration, he told me that some of his old home brew recipes have made it through some revisions to the GRB taproom!
If you want to learn more about the brewing team and process at GRB, stay tuned on our blog! Every Friday we will be releasing a new post featuring anything from the brewing team to our kitchen to our farms where we source ingredients. We’ve started this blog to continue building a culture of community education and transparency, so you can see the quality behind our beer and food. Cheers, and thanks for reading!