Eric Plata is making a name for himself as the head brew master at DeHop’s Brewing Company and Café in Walker, MI. The Chicago native celebrated his one year anniversary at the microbrewery earlier this month and has his sights set on becoming West Michigan’s premiere lager house. After visiting DeHop’s earlier this month to see the place for myself, I think he’s on the right track for accomplishing that and much, much more.
DeHop’s Brewing Company and Café opened in February 2018 in Walker, MI, which is west of Grand Rapids. More specifically, the brewery is located in the Standale neighborhood off of Lake Michigan Drive. Mark and Cathy DeHaan are the owners and their brewery has a welcoming vibe with plenty of seating for anyone and everyone to stop by, have a drink and a meal, and play a game of pool.
Eric got his brewing start in his home state of Illinois. He was home brewing during his undergraduate years and working to get his foot in the door of Chicago’s craft beer scene with apprenticeships. His first assistant brewing gig was at Peckish Pig in Evanston. After working there for a bit, he landed his first head brewer job at Macushla Brewing Co. in Glenview.
At Macushla, Eric fell in love with brewing lagers and fine tuning beers by adjusting their water chemistry. Eric is the second brewer in Michigan I’ve heard from regarding adjusting water chemistry for each beer. Ed Brosius was the first from Salt Springs Brewery in Saline.
Related: Salt Springs Brewery
After brewing at Macushla, Eric became the head brewer at the recently closed Midnight Pig Beer Company. This guy must like pigs or something, right?! He said he enjoyed his time there, but was looking for a fresh start outside of Illinois and Chicago last year, so Eric and his family relocated to Grand Rapids for Eric to begin brewing on the five barrel system of DeHop’s.
Since Eric’s arrival at DeHop’s the beer and the brewery have seen significant growth. Eric has been brewing collaboration brews with other breweries in and around Grand Rapids, including Perrin Brewing Company, the Mitten Brewing Co., Harmony Brewing Company, and TwoGuys Brewing. DeHop’s has also been attending a handful of Michigan Brewers Guild beer festivals.
All of the beers that I’ve had from DeHop’s have been dynamite. Eric has kept up with current beer trends, while also brewing true to style beers and lagers. My favorites are the Schwarzbier, Mango Milkshake IPA, and Standalicious Juicy IPA.
The soon-to-be-renamed Schwarzbier has won numerous awards, including the U.S. Open Beer Championship – Silver, World Beer Championship – Silver, and the London World Beer Awards – Country Winner Best Dark Lager. DeHop’s has two other award winning beers with Brahm’s Best Vienna Lager winning the World Beer Championship – Silver and Maibock winning the World Beer Championship – Silver. All of the awards are on display in the taproom for all to see and cherish.
Eric entered the Standalicious Juicy IPA into last week’s 2nd Annual Grand Rapids IPA Challenge sponsored by Create TC and 7 Monks Taproom – Grand Rapids. The Standalicious is a juicy NEIPA that is dank and has tons of citrus. The 200 beer lovers who attended the blind taste test challenge thought highly of the brew as well, as it earned a third place finish behind Arvon Brewing Co. and Creston Brewery. The other breweries participating were Brewery Vivant, City Built Brewing Company, Founders Brewing Co., Railtown Brewing Co., Rockford Brewing Co., The Mitten Brewing Co., and Thornapple Brewing Co. Quite the accomplishment to stand out among competition like that!
I cannot wait to see and taste what Eric will be brewing up in the future! Stop on by and check out DeHop’s Brewing Company and Café when you visit Beer City USA or West Michigan either for the first time or the next time.