Before Rake Beer Project makes its official debut, the brewery is inviting the public to glimpse a special sneak peek of the incoming downtown venue and meet the team behind the new business on Saturday, March 23 from 2-5pm.
“We wanted to have a time for people to come in and see the space and get to know us,” said Josh Rake, a Muskegon native and longtime brewer who’s partnering with his parents, Todd and Kim Rake, to open Rake Beer Project at 794 Pine St. in downtown Muskegon.
“We’ve had such a great response from the community, and this gives us a chance to put a face to those who have been supporting us so far and to welcome them to the space for the first time,” Rake continued.
The brewery and taproom will be located on the garden level of the incoming NorthTown 794 development, which will feature three levels of dining, drinking and office space in a century-old building that previously housed Al Perri Furniture. Rake Beer Project, which Josh Rake explained will focus on “progressive farmhouse ales,” is slated to open in June, and it will likely start selling cans and bottles of its beer at the end of May.
As part of the March 23 event, all are welcome to view the soon-to-debut brewery, which is still under construction and will ultimately feature a 6,200-square-foot venue, 2,250 feet of which will be used for the taproom and the rest for production space. Additionally, it will share a large outdoor beer garden with its neighbor, Aldea Coffee.
During the sneak peek event, Rake will have samples of its beer (for those 21 and older, of course), snacks from The Cheese Lady and Morat’s Bakery, coffee from Aldea, and brewery merchandise. They too will offer the public a chance to purchase bottle club memberships. There will be 100 memberships available annually, each of which cost $200 and include a special piece of glassware, a Rake shirt, six bottles of limited edition sour beer, six bottles of limited edition barrel aged beer, and six four-packs of limited edition clean beer, along with a discount on the brewery’s pour club. The pour club will include glassware and provide discounts on beer.
“It’s a way for people who are big supporters of craft beer to have more of a relationship with the brewery,” Rake said of the bottle club memberships.
If the memberships do not sell out during the event, they’ll be placed for sale online on Monday, March 25.
As for the taproom itself, it will be a mix of concrete, wood and black metal in an effort to make it “feel like you’re sitting in the woods when you’re at the bar,” said Rake, a 2010 Mona Shores High School graduate who has an extensive background in brewing and has worked for Old Nation Brewing Co., Jolly Pumpkin, New Holland Brewing Company, and The Gallery Brewery.
Currently, the brewery is working with the state and federal governments to complete its permits process, and its buildout is expected to begin within the next week. Nic Seifert, a local woodworker and boat builder by trade, is assisting the brewery with handcrafting its furniture.
“We’re making a lot of our own furniture; we bought a whole lot of live edge wood,” Rake said. “We want everything to look super rustic, super woodsy.”
The entire space is “just perfect,” Rake said of NorthTown 794, which is owned by Muskegon businessman John Essex. In addition to the brewery, the development will feature Redmon’s Kitchen & Bar, a sports bar that will offer gourmet burgers, chicken and waffles, vegan dishes, and more; Aldea Coffee, which directly partners with Honduran farmers for their coffee; Capone’s Speakeasy and Pizzeria, which will specialize in Chicago-style deep dish pizza, cocktails, and more; a rentable 1,500-square-foot conference room; and office space.
“Working with John Essex has been incredible, and we’re all so excited about our neighbors,” Rake said. “We definitely want to collaborate with the businesses around us, like The Cheese Lady and Morat’s. We’re working with Aldea to have their coffee at the sneak peek.”
Plus, Rake Beer Project is collaborating with a number of Michigan breweries; they partnered with Speciation Artisan Ales on a Nordic cream ale released in January and late last week they worked with Pigeon Hill on a sessionable dry hopped kettle sour that will be tapped at Pigeon Hill’s fifth anniversary party on March 23.
Before the brewery has even opened, Rake said he’s been thrilled with the support from local businesses—and the entire community.
“There’s a big push for Muskegon; you can see that with all the businesses working together already,” Rake said. “The city has also been incredibly helpful. This kind of collaboration is a unique thing to Muskegon; in a bigger city, that sort of thing can get lost. We’re in awe of the amount of cooperation here.”
Story by Anna Gustafson, the publisher and editor of Muskegon Times. Photos by Anna Gustafson, unless otherwise noted. You can connect with her by emailing MuskegonTimes@gmail.com or on Facebook, Twitterand Instagram.