Crowe says "a lot went into the thought process" of locating the brewery on the west side. Though partially hidden from view, it's on a main drag a mile from U-M stadium. Trivia nights, live music, foosball, darts, and a party room that holds up to sixty people bring in an "eclectic mix," says brewmaster Oliver Roberts--from families to grad students to older customers.
For its first three years, Wolverine had no kitchen, though customers were encouraged to bring in takeout from nearby restaurants. Even so, the day they opened, "we had a long line of people outside the door," Crowe recalls.
At first, Crowe says, she was "reluctant" to add food because she wanted to keep the focus on the beer. But she's got a "learn as you go" philosophy: "You can have a business plan, a working outline of where you want to go," she says, "but in the end you need to listen to the market." Wolverine added a kitchen last year, and in December started serving sandwiches and daily specials.
Cofounders Thrall and Roy are still involved in monthly management meetings but now leave brewing to Roberts and the marketing to Crowe, a former Reinhart Realtor who is skilled at social media--her "A2 Beer Wench" blog with candid musings about life and beer has been visited more than 150,000 times.