Batch Brewing aims beyond growth to community development in Detroit


Sometimes there’s a lot more to talk about than beer, and that was the case in a recent interview with Batch Brewing Company owner, Stephen Roginson, about their new beer garden scene when the conversation took an unexpected turn about community.

On Saturday, July 2, 2022, we shared a beer with Roginson at the pavilion once affectionately called Fauci’s Fieldhouse. The floor of the pavilion is made of artificial grass, which I assume comes from a football pitch. Lined rows of communal tables like what I imagine a beer garden in Germany fill the field.

The ambiance reminded me of an Italian public square. A family sat behind us; a mom nursing a small baby and a toddler snacking on lunch. Grandma and Dad were handing out towels. A volunteer was collecting signatures for a ballot initiative. Bark Nation, a non-profit organization, was launching its Summer Beer Tour fundraiser. Cheerful dogs were playing between the tables.

Mural by Mike Han inside Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit.

Chuck Marshall – Life in Michigan/For Hearst

A huge Mike Han mural sits on the west side of the pavilion in an empty parking lot. A recent article in Seen Magazine described Han’s work as “black and white murals inspired by graffiti. Han approaches his craft with the precision of a sushi chef preparing a flawless cut of sashimi. I wanted to run through the mural to follow a thick white line to the other side like you would in a hedge maze. Dotted across the mural are tables and umbrellas inviting you to sit down and have a beer. But I wanted to chase people who parked their rental bikes out of the mural. “It’s art. You shouldn’t park your bikes there,” I wanted to tell them.

On the other side of the pavilion are the brasserie and the restaurant. During the pandemic, it got a makeover.

Fieldhouse at Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit

Fieldhouse at Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit

Chuck Marshall – Life in Michigan/For Hearst

“I wanted to lighten the colors and the air. I wanted it to be less cluttered, a little more minimal,” Roginson said. “There are still a lot of communal meals, but there are a few small tables. It’s just a bit more, like a refined experience. We can do all the ridiculous nonsense here now that I want the stage.

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“Tell us about the scene,” I asked.

Roginson gestured to a large shipping container at the end of the pavilion.

“When I build a stage here, I can have shows with 500 people outside,” he said. “The stage will be on the other side of the shipping container. It will be the same general footprint as the pavilion. As wide as it is tall, and it will be 16 feet deep. It will be a legit stage. It’s a riser six inch concrete, one step forward. We can put a riser for a bigger show and do a hip height thing. There will be a 15-20 foot gap between the pavilion and the stage. Standing s “This is a group that people want to be close to. There will always be seats here, more congregational space. I’m going to drill a hole in the wagon. There will be a service window overlooking the outdoor cafe.

Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit.

Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit.

Chuck Marshall – Life in Michigan/For Hearst

Roginson’s smile and enthusiasm are contagious.

“I continue to bring my hobbies to work. I brought my homebrew hobby. And then my barbecue. And now my musical hobby. So here we are, Stephen’s hobby land.

Looking around, I couldn’t help but think, “I love your country of recreation.

“The big takeaway from COVID, you have to take care of your garden, take care of your neighbor, your neighborhood,” Roginson continued. “I mean, your garden literally. We’ve been more mindful of cleaning up and sprucing up, adding art.

One day, I walked out of here and said to myself, I can’t stand the barbed wire on this fence anymore. It has to go down. It’s not my fence. I had to call the neighbors and say, this is what I want to do. I want to remove the barbed wire. I want to install these privacy panels. You know, I’m going to create an experiment here. I think it will add value to the neighborhood, and it’s been small talk like that.

Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit

Batch Brewing in Corktown Detroit

Chuck Marshall – Life in Michigan/For Hearst

“I was thinking of your slogan, ‘Beer makes me happy.’ Do you think it’s community that makes you happy?And beer just makes community?I asked Roginson.

His response came in a rush. As if he was waiting for this question.

“You are one hundred percent right,” he said. “Beer makes a community. It’s a great starting point. You know, community can and should be, uh, deliberately cultivated. It’s something we’re looking for here. As for beer making me happy, beer is one of those great levelers.

Do you know the idea of ​​a third place? As your first place is where you spend most of the time. Is it at home? Is it at work? I do not know. It depends on the person. Your second place is the other. You have an assigned role in these places. You are a mother; you are a father; you’re a girl; you’re a stepfather, you know, whatever. Or at work, you’re a vice president, you’re a peon. You’re the CMO and, you know, you’re the, whatever.”

“The third place is where wherever you gather, people don’t play those roles as a parent or as a seller, they just play the role of who they are inside of the four walls,” Roginson continued. “I think of beer as a mobile third place where if you get together and sit down with someone for a beer, that becomes the context of your interaction and your conversation, the environment. It’s something which makes anyone at that time equivalent to whoever they sit and share with.

I want people to be able to walk into this place and drop all the baggage they’ve been dragging around all week, all day, and just leave it in the car. I’ll come in here and have a good beer, and I’ll have a good sandwich.

The conversation has shifted. I was immediately jealous and started thinking about moving to Corktown when Roginson told us about a community project they were working on with the Detroit Hispanic Development Society.

Jessica Brown, Operations Manager, Jenna Hudy, Bark Nation Investment Coordinator.

Jessica Brown, Operations Manager, Jenna Hudy, Bark Nation Investment Coordinator.

Chuck Marshall – Life in Michigan/For Hearst

“I just did a soft launch for something we call the Porter Street Night Market,” he said.This year, we test it once a month. But next year the plan is every Friday night. We’re closing down Porter Street from Trumbull to Eighth. And we’re going to have about 150 10X10 tents of vendors: exile jewelry, art, laptop or not, food. It’s about helping to incubate and launch the most fledgling small businesses. We’re specifically trying to create a low barrier to entry for Black and Latinx owned businesses.

I want to make conscious choices about the impact of my business on the community. It’s always been part of the philosophy here.

Batch Brewing Company

1400 Porter Street

Detroit, Michigan 48216

“Are there other festivals that cook? ” I asked.

Roginson thought before answering.

“We have Octoberfest every year,” he said. “It’s one of our big things that will probably grow. We’re announcing on Tuesday a partnership between a group of independent breweries in Detroit and the Charivari World Music Festival. It’s August and it’s the second biggest electronic music festival in Detroit.

They came to me about the sponsorship, and I really wanted to do it, but thinking about it, it’s like I could find some money. I can put my mark on it. But you know, there’s something that would be a lot more fun. I went to my co-workers, and they’re now six participating breweries, and we’re doing this Detroit brewery garden.d

A cool cross-promotion for the next six weeks until the festival kicks off. That’s what I’m talking about, reaching out to communities that may not know who you are. They never felt like there was a reason for them to visit.

Plus, it’s more fun to do it with your friends. It’s Lot, Brew Detroit, Let’s do, eastern market, motor cityand Tenacity. All independents.

Dr. Jessica Chronowski, volunteer veterinarian for Bark Nation.

Dr. Jessica Chronowski, volunteer veterinarian for Bark Nation.

Chuck Marshall – Life in Michigan/For Hearst

Roginson’s stick was hovering. We spent almost an hour with him, but it felt like five minutes.

There were so many questions I wanted to ask but I just went, “What do you want? Beyond your hobby ground?

“I have no desire to become the next big retail brewery that has all the headaches of a 15-state territory,” he said. “I just don’t want that. It’s not a priority. So what do I want? What I want to do is have a place that’s where you need to go. When you’re coming to Detroit you have to check this place out. There’s art there. The beer is amazing. The food is killer. They have live music. If you go to Detroit and you don’t Don’t go to this place. You missed the thing. Yeah. That’s what I want. I also want to make sure that while we’re doing this, it’s the friendliest place for locals.

“It’s important to do this deliberately, especially in one of the blackest cities in the United States,” he continued. “What am I doing deliberately to make sure that every inhabitant of the city of Detroit, if they were to walk in here, would feel loved? It starts with the music. And the art. And the menu. Everything the world doesn’t get a beer until it’s drunk the chance to cross its path Most people still in the United States, when they think of beer, they think of a lager, or maybe be they think about the time they tried an IPA. It’s so bitter.

You can’t make someone excited about craft beer, but you can open the door. If we want to be deliberate members of the community, we need to make sure the community knows where the door is in the first place. »

Brenda Marshall is a beginner on the MiBrew Trail, but she’s not new to the Michigan Craft Beer scene. For more than 10 years, she has written about it with her husband, Chuck Marshall. Their stories are published on She graduated from Eastern Michigan University in public relations years ago. While raising a family, she worked at the University of Michigan as an assistant director of an institute providing clinical training. Now does what she loves, writing.

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