By Kait Kisel, student writer
The craft beer industry is booming, with Michigan being the launch pad for many new breweries. And Spartans are paving the path.
The 53rd annual MSU Detroit Executive Forum, taking place on Oct. 24, will hone in on this growing industry through this year’s topic of “The Business and Science of Beer.” The event is co-sponsored by the Eli Broad College of Business and the MSU College of Engineering.
“Michigan beer is a brand by itself. It’s incredible integration of our agricultural and manufacturing roots at its’ core,” said Tony Grant (FTMBA, ’05), CEO and partner of Northern United Brewing Co. and one of the guest speakers at this year’s event. He calls himself “a very proud alumni.”
“Being asked to come to the forum to engage with the business community and MSU alumni in Detroit is an honor,” Grant said. “There is so much investment and growth in Southeast Michigan with Detroit’s resurgence and we are a small part of it, so I’m proud to represent the craft beer industry here.”
In addition to Grant, this year’s panel features Larry Bell, founder of Bell’s Brewery, and Mark Rieth (BA Marketing, ’89), owner of Atwater Brewery. The panel will be moderated by Shannon Long, founder and CEO of Brew Export and host of the “Pure Brews America” television show, which features Michigan’s craft beer industry.
“As a die-hard Spartan it is great to be able to attend this event. Especially in the city I love, Detroit,” said Rieth.
Speakers on the panel will discuss the art and science behind the scenes of the brewing industry, having turned a hobby into profitable and sustainable businesses.
“I’m really excited about this year’s Detroit Executive Forum,” said Broad College Dean Sanjay Gupta. “It used to be a very nascent industry. People thought of this as exotic when you talked about microbrews. Michigan fortunately and in a very exciting way has become one of the key states that has focused on microbrews and shown success.”
In 2017 Michigan was home to 330 craft breweries, fourth-most in the nation, according to the Brewers Association (BA). The number of craft breweries in Michigan tripled between 2011 and 2017, and the average Michigander 21 or older drinks 3.7 gallons of craft beer per year.
The BA defines an American craft brewer as one who produces 6 million barrels of beer or less annually; less than 25 percent owned or controlled by a non-craft brewery; and that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavors derive from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
“It is especially heartening for us that some of our alums have been involved in this,” Gupta said. “MSU is the host to and home to a very strong College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and when you think about the whole microbrew industry, that core competence and strength we have around agriculture, to have that percolate through in the form of the beer industry and for us to be able to celebrate that through this executive forum absolutely is the right thing for us to do.”
This annual forum, started in 1965, has hosted top executives and entrepreneurs from a wide-spanning variety of local and regional Fortune 100 companies. Last year’s event featured Jim Hackett, CEO of Ford Motor Company.
The event is from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Beacon at One Woodward in downtown Detroit. The cost is $70 per person. Each ticket includes an appetizer and two drink tickets. People can make reservations for the event at the forum’s registration page on the Broad College Web site.
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