Q&A with the Owners of Speciation

What did you do before opening a brewery?

M: I started homebrewing with my roommates as soon as I turned 21, and after the 1st or 2nd batch I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. It took me 3 years to get a job in the industry at O’Connor’s Home Brew Supply. In 2012 I had a personal crisis and thought I needed to grow up and be an adult. So, I decided to quit O’Connor’s HBS to work for my dad’s company selling factory automation parts like sensors, industrial cameras, robotic arms, etc. I learned some great small business skills there, but ultimately I wasn’t happy. Luckily in 2013 Whitney had the travelling bug and wanted us to move to Colorado, so I used that as an opportunity to change my career back to beer. I was hired at Former Future Brewing Company late 2013, and I worked hard to learn as much as I could there.

All along Whitney and I were working on a business plan for a brewery back in MI. We were originally going to open a brewery on a river that focused exclusively on beer under 5% abv. After running the numbers a dozen times, and re-writing the business plan 2 dozen times, we decided to shift gears. I was learning a lot about wild beer working under James at FFBC and Black Project, as well as reading everything I could find about sour beer (thanks MTF!). Whitney and I saw how popular sour/wild/farmhouse beers were on the west coast and in Colorado, so we decided to open an all sour brewery, something that was lacking at the time in Grand Rapids… And here we are!

W: I am a social worker and have worked primarily in the areas of child welfare and adoption. I really like what I do.


How would you describe each other?

M: Whitney is endlessly patient, kind, and unique. All are rare qualities these days. She’s not afraid of just being herself, and all she wants to do is make the world a better place.

W: Mitch is friendly, loyal, hardworking, and endearingly curmudeony. He’s a really good friend and has a good sense of humor.


What are your favorite beers in the world?

M: Bam Biere - Jolly Pumpkin, Orval, Atrial Rubicite - Jester King, Oude Quetsche Tilquin à L'Ancienne - Gueuzerie Tilquin

W: Propolis Zephryos, Rodenbach Caractere Rouge, Black Project Supercruise Tempranillo


What are your desert island beers?

M: Pivo Pils - Firestone Walker, Two Hearted - Bell’s, PBR, Featherweight pale - Cannonball Creek, Fuller’s ESB

W: Fuller’s ESB, PBR, Sam Adams Noble Pils, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils, Bells Oarsman


Why are you opening a brewery?

M: I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do with my life. At this point I need to be my own boss because I don’t like having a regular schedule, and I get my best work done in unpredictable spurts.  Ultimately I’m passionate about crafting unique, high quality beer and cider on my own terms, and sharing them with a part of the country that has been a bit deprived from sour beer due to Michigan’s spotty distribution.

W: Beer has always been our common passion. We’ve dreamed about opening a brewery for a long time in the “it’s fun to think about but it’s never going to happen” sense. When we moved to Colorado we saw a lot of potential in the sour beer market, and thought “well, why can’t we open a brewery?”  Mitch makes incredible beer and we had a good vision for moving forward. I like the idea of creating something that is totally ours and that we have the freedom to evolve into whatever we want it to be.  I think it’s worth the risk to unapologetically chase our dreams.  

What do you listen to while working?

M: Lots of Rap & Hip hop (Vince Staples, Kanye, Run the Jewels, Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown), Lots of Doom/stoner metal (Sleep, Black Sabbath, Yob), balladeers (Nick Cave, Tom Waits), some instrumental stuff (Explosions in the Sky, Russian Circles, Mogwai), as well as Radiohead, Iron & Wine, Arcade Fire, etc.

W: NPR and Podcasts. Some of my favorites are This American Life, Radio Lab, and Invisibilia. (yup, I fully own that I am a geek).


Who are your biggest inspirations?

M: James & Sarah Howat from Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales for being completely brilliant and original. Also, both my grandpa and my dad for instilling a sense of business and entrepreneurship in me.

W: I have to agree that James and Sarah Howat have been some of our greatest mentors and inspirations. We are continually inspired by their creativity. Other breweries that I really admire are Jolly Pumpkin, Propolis Brewing, and Scratch Brewing.


Do you have any other hobbies?

M: I really enjoy hiking, camping, traveling, music, video games, and anything sci-fi.

W: Yoga, camping, puzzles, and I’ve recently been learning how to fish.


Where is your favorite place to travel to?

M: I have to say Iceland. I’ll never get sick of the landscape of waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and volcanoes. Second favorite would be England. I love cask beer and the pub/beer culture in England.

W: I love traveling anywhere that I get the opportunity to, but I mostly enjoy traveling to visit friends. I tend to like colder climates as well, so Norway and Iceland are at the top of my list.


What are your favorite foods?

M: Cheese, lengua tacos, vindaloo, pizza

W: Green bean casserole, Ethiopian cuisine, fresh fruit


What is your favorite animal?

M: Corgis, duh.

W: Cats.