It’s been seven years since Hudsonville Winery opened, and four years since Pike 51 Brewing Company opened. A lot has happened in that time. The Michigan beer and wine community has embraced the two separate-but-together businesses, giving Hudsonville and Pike 51 the freedom and support to serve beverages and food that are fun, delicious and creative. But it took some work to get here.
The biggest challenge for owners Steve Guikema and Ron Snider throughout the past few years was working their full-time jobs while operating and maintaining a winery and a brewery. Due to the split time, Steve and Ron were in a reactionary state instead of a proactive state when it came to their business. When they saw an opportunity to focus on the brewery and winery full time, they quit their jobs and jumped right into their passion. This has helped them to stay on top of the winery and brewery, as well as look ahead.
Now that Steve and Ron are able to focus on Hudsonville and Pike 51 full time, today’s biggest challenge for them is how to stay fresh and current. Being a part part of Beer City, USA, Pike 51 – and even Hudsonville Winery – have to be the ones starting trends, not following trends. One trend the two are proud of are their work with sour beers. Pike 51 has been making this style for the past three years, while the trend is just now emerging on the beer scene. For a brewery of Pike 51’s size, that’s a big feat.
Thinking big while being relatively small is what sets Hudsonville Winery and Pike 51 apart from many other breweries and wineries. Brewer Jeff Williams is a huge part of that innovation. Jeff – who was previously a brewer at HopCat – has been with Hudsonville Winery and Pike 51 from the very beginning. Jeff combines beer science and creativity in order to create especially well-balanced beer to great public response. There have been multiple beer releases where people have stood in line outside in order to pick up a Pike 51 beer. Many times, the beer has completely sold out at the brewery during these release days.
Most recently, the winery has upped the game with its frozen sangrias. The idea came up in a meeting and everyone thought the idea was worthwhile to test out. They rented a machine in April and the response was so overwhelming that they not only had to buy their own machine, but upgrade to a bigger one within the first 90 days. In fact, the day Hudsonville Winery released the frozen sangrias for the first time was during a horrible snowstorm. The product still sold like crazy and has been selling so well that the winery is adding frozen watermelon sangria to the lineup.
Now that the winery and brewery are their main focus, Steve and Ron have been able to fully take over the food aspect. Previously, they rented a food trailer, but the two wanted to step up their game and have their menu match the quality of the wine and beer they sell. Both admit there is more work with complete control of the trailer, but the increased food quality has been worth it. Drive by for a beer, frozen sangria and some fried pretzel sticks. Steve and Ron promise it will be worth it.