Salt Springs Brewery

by | Apr 11, 2016 | Beer, Food, History, Michigan

Salt Springs Brewery serves great beer and if you are looking, a history lesson too. Beer and history are two of my favorite things so I’m surprised it took me so long to visit.

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Salt Springs History Lesson

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out there is a salt spring in Saline. It does take some tenacity to find the spring! Yes, we “Googled” it before we left the house and knew approximately where it was located but we didn’t know we’d need to bushwhack our way through the brush when we arrived at the address Google provided. (I think Google was wrong btw.)

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While we bushwhacking our way through the brush, I tried to channel Joseph Francis the Deputy Surveyor who first documented Saline’s salt flat in November 1819. The Saline Area Historical Society has many facts about the springs, but I found this one entertaining:

A little before the noon hour, after working his way in the forest, Joseph Francis could see a little clearing through the large oak trees. Since he thought this might be the trail south to Tecumseh and Ohio, he listened and watched carefully. Because of the War of 1812-1815 and the Indian uprising around Monroe, Francis was always cautious in the field. Not seeing or hearing anything, he finally stepped into the path and stood to feel the bare clay ground under his feet. This was certainly the trail, it felt comfortable compared to the leaves, roots, and stones he usually had to walk on.

Since Francis knew a river was north, he explored the trail south for a quarter of a mile and discovered an acre of land cleared of trees. He saw sure signs that caused him to say to himself, I can’t believe it and he wrote in his personal notes, This is probably the encampment made during the War (War of 1812) by General William Harrison.

After 200 walking feet, the river flood plane came into view and was not what he expected. Using his walking stick, he made his way carefully and found that the soil was turning light in color and that vegetation was thinning. The ground below was shining white in the sun. He stooped so he could touch the whitish soil with his finger, which he placed lightly on his tongue. The taste was salty, just as he suspected. This was another exciting surprise a salt flat!

Unfortunately, we didn’t find the spring. I was very disappointed. At one point I even suggested that we taste the water we found to see if it was salty. I figured if Joseph Francis could taste the dirt we could taste the water. Chuck was appalled to say the least and said, “Are you crazy? That is how people get dysentery! We are NOT tasting that water! Lord, I think we need a beer.”

Salt Springs Brewery

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The beer list! So many choices, so little time. “Old-world European traditions with a modern American twist,” Ron Schofield, one of the Salt Spring Brewery owners said in an interview for with Sheryl Rose for the MittenBrew.

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We were there just a few days after St. Patricks Day and their beer to celebrate it was still on tap. So I ordered a Black and Tan. It was perfect!

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Behind the Bar

We had heard about the 32 ounce crowler system they have installed behind the bar. It is a nifty in-house canning device. The cans are recyclable, but I suppose you could add one to your growler collection. The crowler keeps your beer fresh for months, just in case you can’t it drink it right away.

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Chuck snapped a picture of Zach Alexander using the crowler system to can some beer for another customer. Zach recognized us and offered to take us on a tour.

Brew House Tour

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While Chuck was prowling around in the basement where the brew house is located, he met Ed Brosius, one of the brewers and owners.

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Chuck and Ed marveled over each others long and prodigious facial hair. (I dare you to use marveled and prodigious in the same sentence!)

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Methodist Church

I bet you already know that Salt Springs Brewery is located inside a renovated church in Saline.

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If you didn’t know, it is located the former Methodist Church that was built in 1899. It replaced a wood frame church which was finished in 1859. (This I didn’t know!)

The Methodist church at Ann Arbor and Henry Streets, 1857-1899"The Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1837 on the corner of S. Ann Arbor and Henry Street. The house alongside to the north was the parsonage. Photo coutesy of the Saline Area Historical Society

The building, built in 1899, was the home for the Methodist Church until 1990 when it moved to the corner of Woodland Drive and Ann Arbor Road. Bob Conradi wrote and published a series about the building in The Saline Post.

The space is as beautiful and is split between several floors.

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The Michelangelo-esque ceiling fresco of a hand, giving life to hops was created by Dan Barry, who is an investor in Salt Spring Brewing. “There are three things going on. Number one, it pays homage to the church. It pays homage to all creation, and it pays homage to the creation of beer in a secular way. It’s meant to be respectful, not cheeky,” said Schofield in a recent interview with MittenBrew.

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Yes, there is also food available at the Salt Springs Brewery. Chuck was particularly enamored with the Clifton’s Salsbury Balls and salty bar nuts. (For the record, we didn’t eat either but would love to hear a review from someone who has!)

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If you do decide to taste the food, we read in MLive Article, “You are going to get a taste of the local farms. They buy a lot of their product from people who live around here.” This can only mean good things as far as I’m concerned!

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If you liked our little tale about our visit to the Salt Springs Brewery in friendly Saline, MI, then please share it on your favorite social media venue or send it as a link to your friends and family. If you’ve got a story to share or directions for finding the salt spring, please leave a comment. We’ve got a few more pictures in our gallery of the Salt Springs Brewery.

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