2017 / By Kurt J. Kolka
GRAYLING–When people say they are dreaming about beer, rarely do they mean making it. This is not the case for one Grayling man. Although drinking it is also good for him.
Jason Craig Malone recently opened his dream business, Rolling Oak Brewing Company, LLC, at 509 Norway in Grayling, across the street from Goodale’s Bakery.
He was born in Grayling, but graduated from Roscommon High School.
His hobbies include cheese and maple syrup making. One day, several years ago, he was surfing the Internet for new tasty ideas when he ran across information on fermenting. So he tried his hand at wine making.
“It was absolutely terrible,” says Jason with a smile. But the experience only made him more determined to experiment.
Next, he tried making beer. This also did not turn out well at the beginning. He couldn’t get it to taste right.
His first success was actually hard cider.
“That was drinkable. So, then I started looking back into beer again.”
Jason started growing hops in the backyard of his home on Rolling Oak Lane. He named the beer he created ‘Rolling Oak Ale.’
“He received hugely popular reactions from friends and family who sampled his work. He has supplied the beer for multiple weddings, including his own. After an outpouring of support, it was time to find a way to actually sell the beer,” his wife Heather said.
Jason met his wife Heather after ice fishing with friends one day. He stopped by the Ole Barn for snacks while Heather was working. Even though the kitchen was closed, Heather turned on the fryers just for them, so they could enjoy some spicy cheese cubes. Apparently, that’s all it took for Jason.
They have been married for four years now.
The building they chose for the brewery has a significant history in Grayling. It actually began as the ice house for Grayling. Later it was refurbished into the Ice House Quilt Shop in the late 1970s, a popular business for several years.
“The location, the history, and the unique layout of the building were all key selling points,” Heather said.
Jason and Heather made use of the historical significance of the building in its decor. Its and photos from the early 20th century decorate the walls. While no photos of the original ice house exist, they did find a local photo of men cutting ice from Lake Margarethe, outside of Grayling, which would then be brought to the ice house.
Many family members donated items such as canthooks, sleds and saws which adorn the wood and metal walls join bring back that yesteryear atmosphere to the centennial building.
Jason is multi-talented and put his various talents to use while preparing the building for business. He made the bar top, light fixtures, tap handles, some of the furniture and the metal artwork on the walls for the Rolling Oak Brewing Company’s building by hand.
“Altogether, I probably put about 24 hours into making the bar top,” says Jason. “We got the wood from a local sawmill owned by a friend of mine’s father.”
The Malones believe when people travel to a craft brewery, chances are they will sample every brewery nearby. Then visitors may stay for dinner, see a movie, and even rent a hotel room.
Rolling Oak Brewing Company is neither a bar nor a restaurant. Customers may bring in food or wine to the brewing establishment. Customers are welcome to bring their own bottle of wine and enjoy it for a small uncorking fee. The brewery also has soft drinks available in cans and a homemade root beer on tap.
The brewery will have some merchandise and small scale distribution. The Malones hope to be able to expand this special business in the future.
“We have received so much emotional support and encouragement for Rolling Oak Brewing Company by community members, local businesses, and friends and family, it has been overwhelming and infinitely appreciated,” Heather said.
Considering what was the best part of the experience creating the brewery, Jason said simply, “The beer.”
For more information on the Rolling Oak Brewing Company, contact Jason or Heather by phone at (989) 745-6280 or by email at email@example.com. The brewery’s website is www.rollingoakbrewing.com. It also has a Facebook page and an Instagram account.