Speciation Artisan Ales has opened a tasting room. The niche brewery, located at 3721 Laramie St. in downtown Comstock Park, expanded into the 2000 square foot suite attached to the original production facility, and now occupies 5000 square feet. The brewery, which opened in January 2017, was originally open just one day a month for customers to pick up their orders of new bottle releases.
“That was definitely a good way to start,” said owner Matt Ermatinger. “But it became clear that a lot of our customers wanted a place to hang out and enjoy our beer with like-minded folks.
“The response has been great so far,” said Ermatinger. “Everyone that comes in really enjoys the ambiance and the excellent customer service…also the beer!”
Ermatinger noted that the brewery is a little hard to find, and “the key now is to figure out how to get people to go a little out of the way to enjoy our tasting room.”
There’s a cooler with bottles for in house consumption and a rack of to-go bottles next to it. Speciation Ales doesn’t have a food license, but cheeses and salami are available for snacks. Customers can also bring their own food and can order out for delivery to the brewery.
Ermatinger hired additional people, including one from the Grand Rapids Community College brewing program, to staff the tasting room and keep up with increased production. There are now nine staff members including Ermatinger and his wife Whitney.
Ermatinger said a lot of thought went into transforming “a relatively dull industrial suite into a comfortable and inviting space to enjoy the beer right in the middle of where it’s made.” Speciation Ales brews a unique barrel-aged farmhouse, wild beer, and sour ale, Ermatinger said he wanted the tasting room to reflect the rustic character of the beer. The room is surrounded by barrels of aging beer on two walls with long wooden tables and benches in the center. There are a couple of large beer barrels with bar chairs to sit at. The sixteen foot long bar is a chic, polished copper layer over cement. There’s room for about 44 people.
The word speciation (pronounced sp─“-sh─“-╦ˆ─-sh╔™n) means “the formation of a new and distinct species through the course of evolution.” Ermatinger said all the beers and their names are themed after evolution and biology such as Thread of Life and Genetic Drift.
The tasting room is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.