Follow Us Instagram

OAKLAND BUSINESS REVIEW ARTICLE: An interview with Eric Briggeman, president, Michigan Brewers Guild; brewmaster, Rochester Mills Beer Co.

Categories: Executive Profile

Posted by John Turk | Oakland Business Review May 01, 2008 01:07AM

Although the words “beer” and “geek” might not seem to go naturally together, Eric Briggeman, the newly chosen president of the Michigan Brewers Guild, says those two words are what define most employees in the brewing industry.

Briggeman said he has a library dedicated to the pursuit of beer knowledge, and subscribes to many national and statewide beer publications. He says many in the industry follow suit to keep up with the market.

Education: Adams High School; 95 credits toward business degree at OU; some technical brewing classes
Family: Married; 5-year-old daughter; 2 chocolate labs, and 2 cats
Age: 36
Residence: Rochester Hills

Briggeman, aside from being the president of the MBG, has in the past been head brewer at Big Buck Brewery in Gaylord and is currently brewmaster at the Rochester Mills Beer Company in Rochester.

Briggeman said that the guild’s main goal is to promote and market Michigan-brewed beer. That’s why whenever he visits a bar or brew pub, the first question he asks is what kind of Michigan beer it has.

“A bulk of the breweries in Michigan formed when the Michigan Brewers Guild formed. I was active in volunteering from day one,” said Briggeman, who served on the MBG’s board as secretary for four years.

One of the MBG’s events, its Winter Beer Festival, used to be held in Lansing near the guild’s headquarters, and just this year moved to Grand Rapids, where it sold out.

Briggeman said that the recent change of venue obviously has not diminished interest in the event, which was held Feb. 23.

At the MBG festivals, “we take everything we make and use it for marketing Michigan beer,” said Briggeman. “For example, we recently expanded our Michigan beer brochure to about 16 pages of information about pairing beer with food, and things like how beer is made in general.”

The MBG also holds annual technical conferences for industry personnel, and will host its 11th annual Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti on the weekend of July 25.

“We have a $300,000 to $400,000 budget for the events,” Briggeman said. “And the Summer Festival usually totals 5,000 to 6,000 people each year.”

Along with handling festival planning and marketing, Briggeman has a large role in the upkeep of the MBG’s blog, “The Mash,” which is at

With his new position, Briggeman said, there is a little more added to his workload, but he enjoys having a hand in nonspecific marketing of Michigan independent breweries.

His schedule usually consists of board meetings that are up to two hours away, along with his full-time brewmaster career at Rochester Mills.

“It’s time-consuming, but I love it,” said Briggeman.


Best way to keep competitive edge: Keep an open mind; don’t rule out any possibility.

Personal hero: I admire a lot of people, but don’t think I have a “hero.”

How do you motivate people: Never give someone a job or task that I wouldn’t do myself.

How do you motivate yourself: I like to be busy. Hearing feedback from customers.

Three greatest passions: Beer/brewing, building trades, softball.

Most unique office decor: A 15-liter drinking vessel, or my beer bottle collection.

Favorite hobby: Going to concerts, live music.


Best business decision: Accepting my current job at Rochester Mills.

Worst business decision: I plead the Fifth.

Biggest management myth: If you’re the boss you have to be a (jerk).

What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago? Have a plan, but be ready and willing to adapt. Hardly anything turns out the way you expect it to.

Words that best describe you: Passionate, hard-working.


What keeps you up at night? Nothing.

Pet peeve:Bad grammar, especially on resumes.

Guilty pleasure: Anything sweet, but I don’t feel guilty about it.

First job: Worked in a local greenhouse.

First choice for a new career: I wouldn’t want one.


Favorite cause: Supporting the military service men and women.

Favorite book: Any beer-related book.

Favorite movies: “Old School,” “Major League,” “Star Wars,” “Blues Brothers.”

What’s on your iPod/car radio dial? Anything ’80s rock. I love the hair bands!

What do you do to recharge the batteries? My batteries don’t usually need it. If I’m tired I sleep.

Favorite restaurant: Quick – Taco Bell; sit down – Texas Roadhouse.

Wheels: Jeep Cherokee.


Our mailing address: Michigan Brewers Guild • 225 W Washtenaw, Suite C • Lansing, MI 48933

Proud Supporters

  • Imperial Beverage
  • The Country Malt Group
  • Brewers Professional Alliance
  • Alliance Beverage Distributing Co.
  • Craftwerk Brewing Systems
  • GW Kent