Driving down Van Dyke Rd. on the way to Brooks Brewing, you pass a lot of suburbia. As you pull up to the Brooks Brewing parking lot and pass through the expansive double doors, you leave what is familiar and enter the Brooks family world of beer.
The family-run microbrewery just opened its roughly 5,000 sq. ft. establishment this month, with 10 beers on tap, a small staff of servers, a bottling machine, and a seven-barrel brewing system that can produce 14 kegs at a time. The brewery can hold a personal capacity of 230 people, with seating for 110-120, plus standing room
The long gleaming wood tables and polished bar were built by Cary Brooks Jr., the brew master himself. The beer art hanging over the bottling machine was drawn by Ken Brooks, one of the brothers. The wall to wall cartoon homage to beer and hops was done by a family friend. There is fooseball and arcade games, but there is no TV, except a big screen for big games. It’s part of their vibe, their reason for being-great beer and good times without the need for distractions.
Every beer and wine they sell is $6, tax included. Based on the complexity of the beer, the cost to make it, and the alcohol content, the only thing that changes for that $6 is the amount of beer you get. So a light beer will come in a 16 oz. mug, while an IPA will come in an 11 oz. snifter. They offer flights of seven 5 oz. samplers for $24. If you really like something, buy a growler to take home.
“My brothers and I fell in love with craft beer because there was a craft beer brewery by our school Michigan Tech,” Ken Brooks said. “They had $2.50 for a pint. The atmosphere they created with this universal price, this not-profit-first mentality, stuck with us, and we wanted to bring it home.”
You won’t find any crazy gimmicky beers on tap here. Maybe some crazy names, like My New Girlfriend Amber Ale, but their rule is to nail the classics. The menu will balance new weekly beers they are trying out with a selection that is always going to be there. As for food, they will have food trucks in their parking lot on the weekends. Everybody can bring in their own food.
Because they are only open Thursday to Sunday, with weekend brewing times, chances are you will find a new beer up every single weekend. And you can watch it being made. Beers they have planned include a witbier and an imperial stout.
The Brooks family chose to set up shop in Shelby Township because they grew up in Macomb County since they were born. Their particular location is close enough to Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. in Warren, Sherwood Brewing Co. in Shelby Township, and Rochester Mills Beer Co. in Auburn Hills where they can form some sort of craft beer destination spot, since they are all within ten miles of each other.
Brooks Brewing has plans to grow. Though they currently have 10 beers on tap, their absolute max is 42 taps. They have a bottling machine that needs to be broken in. Within the next year, they want to sell six-packs in their store and hopefully, some grocery stores. They also plan to sell kegs to restaurants.
If you think the Brooks family has a lot going one, get this: the brew master balances his full-time job at Chrysler while the others balance their job at their family-run Intellectual Property law firm.
“We probably could be a show,” Ken said. “We all have a very specific idea of what we want. It’s a mish-mash of five people’s opinion, but it all came together.”