New Salt Springs Brewery opens in renovated church built in 1899

Restaurant to feature carefully crafted beers and locally grown fresh food

By Matt Durr
The Ann Arbor News

SALINE, Mich. (AP) - When you talk to the people behind Salt Springs Brewery in Saline, one word continuously comes up in conversation: craftsmanship.

Thirsty customers got a chance to try that craftsmanship starting Friday when Salt Springs opened its doors to the public for a grand opening weekend celebration, according to The Ann Arbor News.

Built inside a renovated church in Saline, the restaurant and bar has been undergoing several updates for more than six months in preparation for opening.

"To have this type of building and this type of property in a downtown area is a unique opportunity," said Ron Schofield, one of the owners. "Everybody's excited and we're excited to show off what we've been working on."

As you walk into the restaurant, you're greeted by large stained glass windows that can change the look and feel of the space depending on how the sun is shining that day.

"It's all come together very nicely. The building provided such a gorgeous backdrop to begin with, it was just a matter of enhancing it," said Mark Zadvinskis, another one of the owners. "Working with these windows and this natural art that's on the walls is something you can't frame."

With indoor seating for 135 guests, the outdoor patio also has room for 75 seats plus standing room. The amount of seating could change as management sees how the space feels once customers start arriving.

"Some of this stuff might be a work in progress that we finish later, but the broad strokes will be complete," Zadvinskis said. "There's going to be little details over time that we'll continue to evolve."

With 10 beers on tap for opening night, the bar served a variety of craft beers and also had four wines on tap, bottled wine and sangria.

"I'm kinda wishing he had a bigger tap tower already," Zadvinskis said with a laugh.

Schofield said he thinks customers are going to very happy with the beer once they get a chance to try it.

"They've (the brewers) had to scale the recipes up from what's been 10-gallon batches to seven-barrel batches and it's very, very good," Schofield said. "We're not surprised that we're making good beer, but it's great to see the initial batches coming out so well. That's really a testament to the work of the brewers."

One of the brewers, Ed Brosius, is also a partner/owner in the venture.

Beers will run from $4 to $5.50 per pint and 64 ounce growlers will also be available. But what really sets Salt Springs apart according to Zadvinskis is the 32 ounce crowler system. The in-house canning device will allow customer to take 32 ounce cans of beer home with them for $7 a fill.

"When you're done, you can recycle it, there's nothing you have to bring back," Zadvinskis said. "It's going to be a real efficient way of getting your beer home."

A CO2 system is in place that also preserves the beer so that it will stay fresher longer and allow customers to keep their favorite brews at home for longer periods of time.

"A growler is only going to keep your beer fresh for days, a crowler will keep it fresh for months," Zadvinskis said.

Crowlers will only be available for to-go service.

The roughly 6,200-square-foot space is split over two floors with the upstairs being used as the dining room and the kitchen, bathrooms and storage downstairs. The former Methodist church was built in 1899 and was home to the church until 1990. Recently the building was used as the Stone Arch Arts and Events Center.

Along with the carefully crafted beers, head chef Justin Dalenberg said the menu will reflect a commitment to fresh food.

"They're going to get a taste of the local farms. We buy a lot of our product from people who live around here," Dalenberg said.

The menu will feature plenty of traditional European dishes to complement the European style beers on tap.

Dalenberg said the brioche, ham, Canadian bacon, bacon bratwurst and more will be prepared by the staff. The restaurant will be routinely buying local pigs to turn into the pork products used on the menu. He's also planted 400 pounds of Kennebec potatoes at a family-owned farm so that he can serve French fries exactly the way he wants to.

"What people can expect here is that they're going to taste craftsmanship," Dalenberg said. "It's going to be a very wholesome experience."

While full plates will be available for order, Dalenberg said he thinks the menu is best purposed for groups looking to try a little bit of a few dishes.

"Our food isn't going to be very dainty or fussy. The idea behind a lot of food is stuff that you can share," Dalenberg said.

Training for the staff has been ongoing for a couple weeks now and the staff will undergo a few soft openings next week that are open to friends, family and investors in the project. Schofield said they've hired more than 30 people for the brewery.

"When we open, we expect to be overwhelmed. We want to make sure that we're giving great service and great food," Schofield said. "The staff has been working to get ready as we've been getting the building ready."

As everything comes together in the final days, Schofield said he's eager to see how the community reacts. So far, it's been positive from those who've been inside, which he said makes the lengthy renovation process worth all the hard work.

"There's a lot of emotions there right now. While we're trying to wrap it up, we're seeing it through the eyes of friends and family that have come here," Schofield said. "It's great to see it come together here in the last few weeks."

Published: Tue, Aug 04, 2015

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