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Jan. 16

Michigan Brewers Guild Presents Awards to Long-Time Industry Leaders at 2024 Annual Conference in Kalamazoo

The Michigan Brewers Guild presented two key awards to industry leaders at its annual conference Thursday night, January 11, 2024, at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Kalamazoo. The Tom Burns Award was presented to Mike “BrewGyver” O’Brien and the MI Beer Champion Award was presented to Isaac Hartman.

The Tom Burns Award is given to a person who embodies the pioneering spirit of the Michigan brewing industry. This is an individual whose hard work, passion, and perseverance has been a guiding force in contributing to the Great Beer State while being supportive of the entire beer industry in Michigan.

Beer has been a part of Mike “BrewGyver” O’Brien’s life for decades. He built his first draught system at 17, with the help from a local beer distributor. In the late 1970s, while working in California, he discovered Anchor Brewing—the country’s first craft brewery which opened in 1896. Back in Michigan, he met Ted Badgerow of the Real Ale Company in Chelsea who educated him in the world of brewing. Mike was a natural homebrewer and one year he churned out 200 gallons—five gallons at a time—using simple extract beers with specialty grains and his own hops. The beer community came next and early on, Mike joined the Great Lakes Brewers Michigan Chapter One out of a homebrew shop in Garden City followed by membership in the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild in the mid-1980s. His network and knowledge are vast and has earned a solid reputation for helping anyone in need. He has worked with GW Kent providing technical support in their craft beverage sectors, and through the years has assisted countless breweries with a variety of issues related to brewing systems. He has also been a longtime volunteer for the MBG festivals, focused on the beer in the Brewery Hospitality Area.

Past winners of the Tom Burns Award include:

The Michigan Beer Champion Award is given to a person who or organization/business that is a partner of the industry and who continually strives to promote or protect the craft beer industry in Michigan.

Isaac Hartman has served more than two decades at New Holland Brewing Company, starting as a Hope College student working as a dishwasher and then server before becoming the small company’s first salesperson. He is now the Sales Manager representing the beer and spirit brands. Isaac learned about beer and beer sales in a grassroots, self-taught way supplemented by numerous formal training courses. Driven by a passion for beer and the community it serves, he is an unrelenting ambassador for New Holland as well as the overall Michigan beer industry. Isaac served a total of 14 years on the MBG board, from 2008 to 2022, including terms as Secretary and as President. As the founder of the Great Beer State Golf Outing and Protect MI Craft Beer Golf Outing, Isaac is able to merge his interests in politics and golf and is currently planning the 2024 event coming up Thursday, May 16.

Past winners of the Michigan Beer Champion Award include:

The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan beer produced by its nearly 300 member breweries.

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Michigan Brewers Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes more than 17,000 full-time jobs and $700 million in labor income / wages, with a total economic impact of over $2.4 billion. In terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation—supporting its title as “The Great Beer State.”


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