While craft beer is typically associated with large Michigan cities like Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Dexter is quickly becoming a destination for artfully crafted beverages.
The city has long been the home of craft beer brands Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak but the addition of The Beer Grotto in downtown Dexter has helped to up the craft availability in town.
Director of Marketing for the Beer Grotto, Jake VanAtta, said that Dexter was always first on the owners’ list.
“It’s been a cool experience to actually be here in Dexter and give people the option to enjoy craft beers,” he said. “At this point it’s been really awesome.It’s kinda where the whole concept started and if we can make it here in this town we can make it anywhere.”
Now, less than a year after opening, The Beer Grotto has gone on to open locations in Ann Arbor and Lansing with Dexter as their brand’s model.
“The people and interactions that we’ve gained here is helping us grow our concept in Ann Arbor and Lansing,” VanAtta said.
VanAtta says the goal of the Beer Grotto is to help “get rid of buyers’ remorse.”
Listen to VanAtta talk about where “taste it, love it, tote it” comes from:
“Craft beer can be very intimidating,” VanAtta said. “Our majority owner Troy (Ontko) saw a niche that wasn’t being met. To be able to try beer, really learn about the beer instead of going up to the bar and paying $8 for a pint and hating it.”
At the Beer Grotto guests can try any beer on tap before taking it home in 64-ounce growlers or 32-ounce howlers. Additionally, all the staff members – affectionately called “beer geeks” and “cork dorks” – are well-versed in craft beer and wine and can help guide hard-core beer lovers and newbies alike.
“What makes us different is the people,” VanAtta said. “When someone comes here they know they’re going to get the customer service they deserve and if not we’re going to find ways to fix it.”
The bar offers 10 to 15 regularly on tap craft beer “staples” like Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and fills the rest of their lines with a rotating stock of seasonal and often hard-to-get brews. According to VanAtta about 80 percent of their beers are made here in Michigan.
“We might not have Miller Lite or Bud Light or domestics of any sort, but we do have some great Michigan craft breweries that make great pilseners or lagers that are very similar but have a lot more flavor and are made here in Michigan, which is what we strive for,” VanAtta said. “We want to support Michigan as much as possible because we’re very, very lucky to have craft breweries here. That is a predominant part of the last 5 to 10 years of jobs and the growth of putting Michigan n the map. We’re the fourth biggest craft beer state in the nation.”
In addition to locally-made craft beers, The Beer Grotto offers national craft beer brands like New Belgium Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada, wine and liquor. The bar is located at 8059 Main St. in downtown Dexter.