Are you in the mood for an unusual craft beer, maybe something ‘A-Tibbical’? How about a Celery City, a Fresh One, or Pumped up Pumpkin. If these sound tasty then a stop into Tibbs Brewing Company located at the corner of South Burdick and W. Lovell Street is in order, to peruse a plethora of hand-crafted beers.
Kevin Tibbs, Brewer and Operations Manager at Tibbs, crafted his first beer in 2007 to give away as a Christmas gift. At the time, he was in the construction management business. Not unlike other local entrepreneurs, brewing beer at home was a hobby that evolved into a livelihood.
Tibbs isn’t just any brewery. It is self-funded business started in a home basement- built from the ground-up- by husband and wife team- Cindee and Kevin Tibbs, both of Hartford, MI and now Texas Township. It has been fully-funded from day one. “We are growing as we can,” said Tibbs. “We wanted to do it without debt.”
Brewing the beer at home for five years allowed them to transition and juggle a young family, career changes, and launching a business. By December of 2013, they were in the building on Burdick Street, which has that hometown corner bar feel. Soon after that, they found out they were having their second daughter.
Wife Cindee, a West Michigan native, attended Kalamazoo Valley, then received her BA in Political Science from Western Michigan University. Now owner and CEO of the brewing company, she also works daily at the Department of Defense as Chief of Customer Outreach.
The family front also keeps the dynamic-duo busy while keeping the brewery afloat. The two juggle a hectic schedule for their two girls under the age of six between friends, school, and activities they also make time to enjoy an occasional family night.
On the beer front, they work closely to grow the business on all levels, and the craft beer culture in Kalamazoo is a perfect fit. At any given time, they have six-to-seven mainstay beers on tap, and four-to-five seasonal beers. The weekend beer menu and events are always current and shared on their Facebook page.
For the Tibbs, other breweries paved the way for the craft brew industry which helped in his decision making. “Bell’s set the bar for fine craft beer in Kalamazoo,” Kevin shared. “It was great beer and people wanted more, certainly not less.” Tibbs went on to note that once people have a more discerning palate for hand crafted beer, nothing else will do.
Patron Gee Barger, a North Carolina resident who moved to Kalamazoo, frequents Tibbs shared “I think we figured it out one time, there is one craft beer bar per 7500 residents in Kalamazoo,” Now that’s a lot of beer! Barger went on to share that he still hasn’t found his favorite beer yet, but is willing to keep trying.
Owning and brewing the beer Tibbs’ shared that he and assistant brewer Trevor Sandberg have reached out on social media to stir creativity when naming the beers. “For our first beer, we got well over 100 ideas on Facebook,” said Tibbs. They settled on Hell-Jen Belgian, a Belgian Tripel which is one of their most popular varieties. The flagship beer to date is Ben Jonesin' Chocolate Toffee Porter, not only is it their best seller, but chocolate porter is enjoying new popularity.
Tibbs Brewery latest addition is the Lower Bar open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 6 pm and, is open for private events. The bar area downstairs features live local talent, singer-song writer night, bar snacks, and of course, BEER!
“We are experiencing the good kind of challenges right now,” said Tibbs. “The kind that comes from growth.”
So if you haven’t had a chance check-out Tibbs Brewery do so, and you may end up tasting and naming a new beer!
What is your favorite beer style- a pale ale, a lager or perhaps a porter? There are literally hundreds! Share your favorites and why.