Sparging The News: John Niedermaier

In Beer News by Ryan

When it merits, GuysDrinkingBeer will bring you the relevant, generally-Chicago-centric information about what you’ll be imbibing around town.  Here’s what’s running through our Mash Tun of Information:

Remember him?  John was the balls-to-the-wall brewer that helped put Right Brain Brewery in Traverse City on the map.  He concocted all sorts of crazy brews; a sour barleywine, a honey basil ale and an ancho chili double chocolate porter.

As we first told you in June, John and the brewery parted ways.  We’ve had beer geeks on the ground in Traverse City ever since feeding us little nuggets of info that John would be brewing again soon and that he would be staying in the area.  Now, we have concrete info to back that up.

The Garfield Township Planning Commission is holding a public hearing tonight regarding John’s proposal to open Brewery Terra Firma on Hartman Road between US-31 and Cass Road, south of downtown Traverse City.  According to documents obtained from the planning commission Niedermaier wants to use the majority of the 9 acre lot as an agricultural operation, “that would utilize the by-products of the brewing operation, including spent grains and husks, to assist in the growing operation.”  A bed and breakfast is currently on the lot, which also happens to be next to a Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall.  Niedermaier told the planning commission in August that he is eying the site because of it’s proximity to the Traverse City market and the acreage.

According to the Ticker, a news and events website in Traverse City, the agricultural production to be done on the site will include growing brewing additions like berries, herbs and hops.  The brewery itself will be 7,000 square feet and will include a covered patio and eventually a grain silo for storage.  It also appears, according to the Ticker, that the B & B will remain intact and could eventually re-open.  The brewery could employee as many as 16 people.

From a zoning standpoint, because Niedermaier wants to do so much with the land; producing beer (industrial land use), selling beer (commercial land use) and growing crops (agricultural land use), the land would either need to be rezoned or a special permit would need to be granted.  Call it a hunch, but I could see the fact that the proposed site for the brewery is adjacent to a place of worship coming in to play at some point too.

This is still early in the process, but we’ll stay on top of this and keep you posted on John’s quest to brew again in Traverse City.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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