“The SBDC played a huge part in helping us take the business from concept into the bankers’ hands."

Barrel + Beam

101

Retail and restaurant accounts

140+

Private events hosted

9

Hired employees

24

Brewed and market distinct products

Initial Situation

While living in Madison, Wisconsin, Nick VanCourt and Marina Dupler happily immersed themselves in the craft beer scene. An avid home brewer, Nick decided to pursue brewing professionally and sought an internship at a local brewpub. From there he enrolled in Siebel Institute, studying in Chicago and later Germany and in several European countries. After working in three Wisconsin breweries, the two happily returned to Michigan, joining a start-up brewery in the Upper Peninsula. The call to create a brewery that solely focused on farmhouse, Belgian and barrel-aged beers led the two to found Barrel + Beam.

How the SBDC helped

Feeling confident in their niche in the craft brewing industry, and armed with a little seed money, the couple had to create a business plan before approaching local banks for funding. They were connected to Lance Wolf, an Upper Peninsula Region SBDC consultant. The SBDC was able to help file LLC’s for both the real estate company and brewing business. Through numerous meetings and conference calls, Lance and Nick created financial projections to include in Barrel + Beam’s business plan, and assisted in structuring the business plan to take to the bank.

Success

Since opening in 2016, Barrel + Beam has grown to distribute their products in over 100 retail outlets and restaurants in both Michigan and Wisconsin. The company focuses on farmhouse ales, in which new and old world ingredients are brought together, and is one of just a handful of breweries in Michigan that specifically focuses on this type of ale. Nick commented, “Without the SBDC we would not be what we are today. The SBDC helped Barrel + Beam go from a nonexistent to a self-sustaining company.”

260 Northwoods Rd
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 273-2559
 

While living in Madison, Wisconsin, Nick VanCourt and Marina Dupler happily immersed
themselves in the craft beer scene. An avid homebrewer, Nick decided to pursue brewing
professionally and sought an internship at a local brewpub. From there he enrolled in Siebel
Institute, studying in Chicago and later Germany and in several European countries. The two
happily returned to Michigan, joining a start-up brewery in the Upper Peninsula. The call to
create a brewery that solely focused on farmhouse, Belgian and barrel-aged beers led the two to
found Barrel + Beam in 2016.

Feeling confident in their niche in the craft brewing industry, and armed with a little seed money,
the couple had to create a business plan before approaching local banks for funding. They were
connected to Lance Wolf, an Upper Peninsula Region SBDC consultant. The SBDC was able to
help file LLC’s for both the real estate company and brewing business. Through numerous
meetings and conference calls, Lance and Nick created financial projections to include in Barrel
+ Beam’s business plan, and assisted in structuring the business plan to take to the bank.

“The SBDC played a huge part in helping us take the business from concept into the bankers’
hands,” Nick commented. “They were monumental for funding purposes. Without their assistance
and support we would have suffered from rejection time and time again.”

With their loan approved, the two could move forward in purchasing an area landmark. “We were
thrilled to be able to call the old Northwoods Supper Club, which was constructed in 1933, the
home of Barrel + Beam,” said Marina. In fact, the building had been vacant for a decade and had
fallen into disrepair. But the log beams were as strong as ever and the name Barrel + Beam is a
nod to them, and the barrel-aged beer the brewery has become known for. After a $2 million
renovation, the building is now re-opened to the public and serves as both a tasting room and
event space.

Since opening, Barrel + Beam has utilized self-distribution, personally delivering their specialty
ales in over 100 retail locations and restaurants in both Michigan and Wisconsin. Primary
locations consist of the Marquette/Keweenaw areas of the Upper Peninsula and the Grand
Rapids and Detroit areas of the Lower Peninsula.

“We specialize in farmhouse ales, in which we bring new and old world ingredients together. We
are also proud to say Barrel + Beam is one of just a handful of breweries in Michigan that
specifically focuses on this type of ale,” Nick explained. “Without the SBDC we would not be
what we are today. The SBDC helped Barrel + Beam go from a nonexistent to a self-sustaining
company.”

The future for Barrel + Beam is promising. Nick and Marina are dreaming of expanded brewery
and event space as part of a phase 2, when the remaining 6,000 square feet of the original
building will be renovated. “Our goal is to be the best brewery of the farmhouse niche, not
necessarily the best value beer,” Nick said. “With the help of the SBDC we feel as if this goal is
in reach, if it hasn’t been reached already.”

To learn more about Barrel + Beam "like" their Facebook page or check out their website!

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