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Future site of Third Nature Brewing Co.'s 6,400-square-foot brewery and 120-seat restaurant, located southwest of Rockford near the Rogue River. Future site of Third Nature Brewing Co.'s 6,400-square-foot brewery and 120-seat restaurant, located southwest of Rockford near the Rogue River. Courtesy photo.

Partners propose new microbrewery near Rockford

BY Sunday, April 08, 2018 08:21pm

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP — Three Michigan natives plan to open a new microbrewery in the Rockford area.

A company currently doing business as Third Nature Brewing Co. plans to build a 6,400-square-foot brewery and 120-seat restaurant at 7733 Childsdale Ave. NE, located southwest of Rockford near the Rogue River, according to documents filed with Plainfield Charter Township.

According to partner Chad Zitzelsberger, early “work-in-progress” plans for the taproom concept focus on the brewery’s natural setting and play up the local outdoor lifestyle. The site is located close to the White Pine Trail and across the street from access to the Rogue River.

“We plan to have a beautiful beer garden out in the woods, a place where you can drink a beer outside, spend an afternoon and play games,” he said, noting all three partners are into running and cycling.

Zitzelsberger is partnering on the project with his brother, Troy Zitzelsberger, and brother-in-law Bryce Roebke.

Of the partners, Troy Zitzelsberger has prior brewery experience, having founded Hop Mori Brewing Co. in Seoul, South Korea in 2015, where he also serves as the company’s master brewer, according to documents filed with the township.

Representatives from Third Nature went before the township Planning Commission last week for a site plan review and to request a special use permit to build more than 2,000 square feet of outdoor seating. The commission unanimously approved the plans and the special use permit on March 27.

An affiliated entity purchased the 7.4-acre light industrial site on Jan. 1 for $255,000, according to township property records.  

The entity behind Third Nature filed applications with the Michigan Liquor Control Commission for micro brewer and small wine maker licenses. In the business plan submitted to the township, the partners indicated they also could pursue a distillery license to sell liquor at the taproom.

With the Planning Commission approvals in hand, the company expects to take the next two months to formalize the rest of its vision and plans, Chad Zitzelsberger said.

“We love the location,” he said. “Just being out in nature, we want to give people that kind of experience.”

If the plans come to fruition, the brewery would join a growing craft beverage scene in the Rockford area that includes Rockford Brewing Co., which was named the “Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year” at the Great American Beer Festival last fall, and winery Kayla Rae Cellars, which also includes the onsite MI Brewery.

Additionally, Paw Paw-based St. Julian Winery this week announced plans to open a new tasting room at 4425 14 Mile Road NE, just east of U.S. 131. The company said the tasting room is set to open in June and will offer its full range of products, which includes wine, cider and spirits.

Portage-based Genco Properties LLC, which is owned by St. Julian President John Braganini, purchased two adjacent parcels for a total of $433,500 in November, according to property records.

In a filing with the Algoma Township Planning Commission, the company said it planned to redevelop an existing building at the site for the tasting room on one side and a sit-down restaurant to be operated by Flo’s Collection on the other.

Flo’s Collection, owned by brothers Dan Uccello and Davide Uccello, also operates restaurants in Belmont and Greenville and a pizzeria on Plainfield Avenue in Plainfield Township.

In a filing, a representative for St. Julian said the tasting room expects to attract “between 50,000 and 75,000 customers annually.”

“The Grand Rapids and Rockford area have seen an explosion in growth in the recent years, especially in the hospitality, restaurant, brewery, and distillery areas,” Nancie Oxley, winemaker at St. Julian, said in a statement. “During this growth, we have been hearing how many people in the area would enjoy seeing more opportunities to enjoy the great wines that Michigan has to offer, and even more importantly, that they would love to have a St. Julian location closer to the Grand Rapids area. Opening up one of our tasting rooms just north of the city in Rockford was a natural fit.”

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