57 Brew Pub & Bistro’s beer and food resonating with customers

Posted by Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 1:52 pm on Tuesday, January 15 2013

Flames erupt from a pan as 57 Brew Pub and Bistro Executive Chef Michael Whalen cooks a batch of “Drunken Mushrooms” for a customer. — Daily News/Cory Smith


GREENVILLE — In the few short months it has opened its unique business in Greenville, the staff of the 57 Brew Pub & Bistro are making sure they stay true to what customers are looking for in its beer, food and service.

The restaurant, located at 1310 West Washington St. (M-57) officially opened its doors on Nov. 1, 2012, to offer a variety of foods, signature beers, club membership and a fun and classy environment.

Robert Olsen and Dorothy Brydges-Olsen are the owners of the 57 Brew Pub & Bistro, which sits where J.R.’s Roller Castle was once situated.


Seven barrel system

Brewmaster Tom Aellen started learning about the art of brewing beer through the help of a consultant and decided he wanted to bring the unique talent to Greenville.

When it comes to brewing beer, Aellen’s days are very different. Each beer he brews is based on the feedback he receives from customers.


He explained there are two processes he goes through on an every two day schedule to keep beer brewing in a timely matter — a brew day and a transfer day.

“Our beers are similar to others, but slightly different,” said Aellen, explaining he experiments with his formulas to gain just the right taste.

One of the qualities of having a brew pub in the community is that it offers a variety of fresh beer with rich taste — unpolluted by added preservatives.

Aellen said each batch of his beer lastS three to four weeks, allowing customers to experience a fresh taste test.

The craft beer comes with a higher amount of alcohol per serving, which for Aellen’s beer, averages out at 6 to 7 percent.

The 57 Brew Pub and Bistro has eight beer selections on tap, including Greenville Stinger Honey Ale, Dirty Blonde, Wayne’s Green Tractor Ale, Red Shedman’s Amber Ale, 57 Chevy IPA, The Dark Knight Stout, Mayan Midnight Stout and Berry Wheat.

The seasonal selections also include Winter Wheat and Victory Double IPA.

The most popular are Greenville Stinger Honey Ale and Dirty Blonde, according to Aellen.

He has been collecting feedback from customers  to figure out how to adjust each beer to make it a return product for customers.

“It’s about trying to make something the community enjoys,” he said. “It gives us something to strive for.”

Aellen reflected over the past few months on the process of brewing, noting brewing beer is very labor intensive.

“There is no glory in brewing beer,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work.”

With the goal of making better beer for their customers, Aellen and his wife, General Manager Sherry Aellen, want to continue to experiment with their beer to make perfect recipes.

“We want to put our brewmaster on the map for award-winning beer,” Sherry Aellen said.


Culinary specialty

Executive Chef Michael P. Whalen came to the 57 Brew Pub and Bistro wanting to make a difference by offering a variety of unique foods to customers.

Whalen has about 40 years of experience and a resume that includes working at the 1913 Room, in Grand Rapids, which closed in 2011, the former Gibson’s Restaurant in Grand Rapids and the Honey Creek Inn in Cannonsburg.

“This is all I have ever done,” said Whalen of his career. “I started when I was 15 years old, and, after 40 years, I never left.”

Whalen’s menu showcases a range of foods from appetizers and burgers to fish and steak, but in the few short months of business, two items have become favorites of customers.

The first favorite is the Pub House Mac-n-Cheese, which includes pulled chicken, smokehouse bacon, peas and sweet onions, topped with bread crumbs and oven roasted.

The second favorite is the 12 Herbed New York Strip Steak cooked in a wood-fired oven.

“They are real popular,” Whalen said of the two dishes. “We cut and trim our own steaks as well.”

Another popular item on the menu is the wood-fire pizza, which is cooked in apple or oak wood to give it an extra flavor.

All of Whalen’s sauces and soups are homemade.

“We want to make Greenville a destination place,” he said.

Starting this week, the 57 Brew Pub and Bistro will offer daily specials. Whalen said a schedule will be created so people will know what days to come in to get their favorite features.


Community service

The 57 Brew Pub has already made changes in its few months of service to better serve the community.

Restaurant staff began collecting feedback from the customers on things the business could change to make it a place that would bring customers back.

Some of those changes included adding additional televisions to the bar area, creating food specials and adjusting the menu.

Sherry Aellen said when they first opened their doors, the restaurant had a large variety of food to see what people liked and ordered. Since then, the menu has scaled back a bit, allowing the business to bring in new items for future feedback.

“We are making adjustments,” Sherry Aellen said.

When talk of the business began a couple years ago, Sherry Aellen said she was nervous at first as the brew pub would be built in a smaller community than is typical for a brew pub.

“I was nervous the support wasn’t going to be here,” Sherry Aellen said.

Then she smiled.

“I learned because it’s a smaller community, they support you even more because they want you to succeed,” she said. “The people here are awesome.”


Upcoming events

On Jan. 29, the pub will be offering a beer-pairing night. The event will cost $30 and include a three-course meal with a beer to go with each course.

A host will discuss which beers go with each type of food.

For more information about the 57 Brew Pub, call (616) 712-6226 or visit “57 Brew Pub” on Facebook.

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