By Sue Moore
“Every small town can support a brewery as long as they make good beer,” claimed Dane Bosel, the co-founder of the Distant Whistle, a new craft brewery in downtown Vicksburg at 118 S. Main Street.
He and his partner, Andy Clouse, have been brewing beer in Bosel’s garage for the last two and a half years, experimenting with recipes. Long before that, Bosel and Clouse were students at Northern Michigan University where they met. Clouse was making beer while majoring in outdoor recreation and Bosel majored in digital cinema and worked part time at Wal-Mart. Bosel moved to Vicksburg when his wife Lindsay secured a job teaching at the high school. He is a stay at home dad with their three children ages six, four and two.
The garage brewing began with Clouse and his wife Mary Ann moved to Portage and needed a space to store his beer-making equipment. Bosel suggested his garage, but only if they could actually use the equipment. Thus, the brewery idea was born.
The name for their brewery grew out of hearing the train whistle constantly in the village. Trains come through at the rate of 40 or more per day on the Canadian National railway. “It seemed like a throwback name for a tavern, so we adopted it,” Bosel said.
“Our goal is to achieve consistency in our beer making in our three barrel brewery and seven taps. It’s barley, hops, yeast and water to make beer. We make classic style beer and innovate with a little twist. The important thing is to keep beer fresh as you don’t want it to get stale. We have three flagship brews with something new to try to surprise our customers,” Bosel said.
The classic brews are Paramount IPA with tropical fruit flavors and a citrus fruit finish; Backpackers Blonde Ale, finished with Kalamazoo Coffee Company’s Backpackers Blend; Bilbo Brown Baggins, a brown ale with a smooth light body and chocolate notes.
“We source our ingredients locally as much as possible as we want to support the craft brewing industry here in this area. We even give our spent grain to local farmers as livestock feed,” Bosel explains.
Since opening the brewery in late August, they have started a mug club for the first 100 people who bought in at $100 for a lifetime membership. The mugs are a 20 oz. fill as opposed to the normal 16 oz. fill in a pint glass. The mugs were hand crafted by Lisa Beams and it has already sold out and now they have a wait list. The Distant Whistle has created a social environment in hopes of bringing more business to downtown Vicksburg for all the merchants, Bosel said.
Because their focus is on beer, they didn’t want to be in the restaurant business. They encourage patrons to buy food from the local restaurants and bring it in as a complement to the beer. Growlers half gallon servings are available for takeout. Their customers have come from a larger radius than just the Vicksburg area, Bosel related, with 75 to 85 percent each night from out of town. “We have had a solid retention rate too and have served 300 gallons of beer thus far.” They can be contacted at 269-370-7549.