Grand Rapids production company films "Great American Brew Trail" for PBS television series

Sharon Hanks

Crazy about Michigan's craft beer? Love the area's breweries and pubs? Then you'll surely toast to the new PBS television series"Great American Brew Trail" that will be showcasing Michigan breweries in the fall during its first season.

Filming began this month for a series of 13 half-hour programs featuring visits to 26 Michigan breweries, their pubs and hometowns.

The first stopover was filmed on a perfectly sunny afternoon along the lakeshore on Sunday when a six-person crew led by producer Matt Renner and the show's host Amy Sherman descended upon the Saugatuck Brewing Company. It was a promising start for the premier of the program celebrating "Let's drink! One pint at a time."

While the crew went about with their interviews, a live band played hip-hop tunes for indoor and outdoor guests and a crowd of fun-loving customers enjoyed beer and food specials. "It went really well," gushes Sherman.

Next on tap for a visit from Renner Company is Grand Rapids Founders Brewing Co. later this month.

Renner says his Grand Rapids-based production team will focus not only on the brewery's distinctive beer, but also its pub, food, surrounding community, and the pairing of good local beer with good local food. The energetic, fast-talking Sherman seems like the perfect host to offer viewers culinary suggestions.

The Eastown mother of three is a home beer brewer herself who has hosted local TV cooking shows in the past, worked as a pastry chef and brewery waitress, taught cooking classes, and founded the Southwest Michigan chapter of Slow Food USA.

"I've been drinking my whole life for this job, so you have to hire me!" the fun-loving host told Renner after he discovered her talents late last December through a mutual business colleague.

Part of the show will promote an up-and-coming cookbook with recipes from local breweries and Sherman's personal collection along with travel information about the communities they visit. Fans can keep track of the crew's journey by checking their Facebook page.

Assuming the series is successful, Renner says the second season will spotlight a few other Michigan breweries but will primarily focus on others in the Great Lakes states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and New York. Of course, if that's successful, the plan is to visit other regions of the country, such as the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast.

Sources: Matt Renner, executive producer, Grand Rapids; Amy Sherman, host and chef, Grand Rapids

Sharon Hanks is innovations and jobs news editor at Rapid Growth Media. Please send story ideas and comments for the column to Sharon at [email protected] She also is owner of The Write Words in Grand Rapids.