Flint's First Craft Brewery Lives Up to its Name
The idea of a bar as a community center, where everyone knows your name, is not a new one. Tenacity Brewing taps into that concept by offering not only beer but also a sense of place.
The founders of the city’s first craft brewery—Jason Caya, Janet Van De Winkle, Tamra and Robb Klaty, and Jeff and Melissa Rasmussen—were already engaged in the community, says Caya, who is director of the Flint Area Reinvestment Office. Van De Winkle is director of the Flint Corridor River Alliance. The Klatys run other Flint businesses including the Flint Crepe Company and Table and Tap. The six founders’ shared passion for Flint brought them together to launch Tenacity Brewing in 2015.
"We all believe in the community and want to be a part of the revitalization,” Caya says. “We are all committed to the city and that’s why, when we started, we really wanted to do this [brewery] in Flint.”
Tenacity is located on the outskirts of downtown in an old fire station in the Carriage Town district. The microbrewery—they’re on pace to brew 250 barrels this year—has 13 taps with 10 dedicated to beer, two for cider and one for root beer. The Midwest Coast IPA is one of their mainstays, but they experiment and offer twists on classic styles using local ingredients. In the summer they released a double IPA called Golddigger featuring local honey.
Other local ingredients finding their way into beers include strawberries for a different version of their popular light blonde ale as well as northern Michigan cherries for cider. Caya says they source most of their hops from Top Hops Farm in Goodrich, using as many of their hops in as many beers as possible. They are also working on sourcing Michigan grains so the beers can eventually be all Michigan made.
To pair with the beer, Tenacity also offers their gourmet Brew Dogs done in house. Bacon-wrapped Koegel franks are topped with fresh ingredients straight from the farmers’ market Thursdays through Saturdays. The rest of the week, Tenacity plays host to local food trucks such as Vehicle City Tacos and Barlow’s Gourmet Sauces, Authentic BBQ & Catering. Eventually the goal is to expand beyond the Flint market and distribute to restaurants and bars in Grand Rapids, Traverse City and Detroit.
Aside from food and beer, Tenacity aims to be a community hub, Caya says. The brewery has played host to parties and events as well as fundraisers. They’ve raised thousands of dollars for the Community Foundation of Greater Flint as well as help fellow breweries such as Redline Brewing Company of Burton, which shut down temporarily after a fire destroyed their first location.
Sustaining a new business is a challenge for anyone, but what about sustaining a business during a public health crisis? The water crisis didn’t hurt Tenacity, Caya says. The brewery already was filtering their water as a matter of course.
“We’re trying to do our part and it’s an opportunity for everyone to do their part whether it’s donating or coming to Flint or being a customer,” Caya says. “Certainly there were times it was tough bringing people downtown right when (the water crisis) hit, but overall we’re resilient people and tenacious. It’s just another challenge we have to overcome and we’ve bounced back pretty well.”
Find out more at Tenacity Brewing