“We drink all we can and sell the rest.”
In 1996, Atwater’s original owners wanted to bring back the Bohemian-style lager that Stroh’s Brewing Company had made famous in the mid 1800’s and for a time made Michigan the largest beer producer in the country. Atwater purchased a Kaspar Schulz brewhouse (the oldest makers of brewing equipment in the world), and in 1997 made its debut in Detroit, Michigan in the historic Rivertown district.
Enter MSU grad Mark Rieth, who’d been developing a passion for beer when he was living in Boston in the late 80’s and brewing Sam Adams Boston Lager knock-offs in his basement.
Rieth moved back to Detroit in 1997 fully intending to be a part of Detroit’s revitalization, and he stumbled across Atwater. Rieth had an automotive background and a strong grasp of production and distribution, and after realizing Atwater was a German style brewhouse which happened to produce his favorite style of lager, Rieth knew immediately what he wanted to do: In 2002, he personally invested in the brewery, and in 2005 he purchased it outright.
Atwater’s success was almost immediate and bigger than anyone could have imagined. Dirty Blonde and Vanilla Java Porter quickly became two of the most popular brews on Michigan shelves, with Hop-a-Peel (an American IPA) and Decadent Dark Chocolate (the Bronze World Beer Cup Winner) not far behind. It wasn’t long before Atwater expanded distribution to the east coast.
Atwater still holds true to its passion for traditional German style lagers, along with unique boutique ales, and keeps things fun around the brewery, never taking things too seriously. (Their favorite slogan is, “We drink all we can and sell the rest”.) Atwater recently became an international brew when they shipped to Munich, Germany in a partnership with an all-American craft beer tap house.
If you’re trying an Atwater brew for the first time, you might want to go with one of our favorites: