Sister Lakes Brewing Company has a motto.
Sitting with his sons at a long wooden table inside their building in Sister Lakes, a smile comes to owner Jerry Morin’s face as he recites the motto by heart: “Fostering community one pint at a time.”
Sister Lakes Brewing Company, located at 92500 County Road, Dowagiac, was the first brewery to open in the lakeside town of Sister Lakes. A family-run business, Jerry runs the brewery with sons Dave, Joe and Brian. Since opening their business in 2016, the Morin family has been dedicated to three things: food, community and beer — not necessarily in that order.
Getting their start
Sister Lakes Brewing Company’s origins are small — as small as the home brewing kit that Joe and Dave purchased in 2010. The package contained all the necessary ingredients and instruction for the brothers to make their first ever batch of simple beer.
“We thought we could drum up a hobby of making beer, where we could have something to enjoy at the end of it,” Joe says.
“We didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” Dave adds. “But it turned out really good.”
Dave and Joe kept making more batches and enjoying every one. Just a few months later, Brian took a home brewing class in Indiana, where he was living at the time, getting in on the fun.
“I was the little brother. I couldn’t let them be better than me at something,” Brian says with a laugh. “It was really cool because we would be brewing recipes with our different systems in different states. We would then come together and try them and critique them.”
From there, the brothers were hooked, and beer making became a hobby for the family to share. They started buying better equipment and books on the brewing process. They toured breweries, joined online forums and tested out recipes — always making Jerry their taste tester.
It would take years of talking and debating before the family decided to take the plunge and pour their finances and efforts into opening a brewery. Though at the time they decided to open a brewery many things were up in the air, one thing was not — the brewery would be opened in Sister Lakes.
“We have been coming up here for five generations, and it has always been a place close to our hearts,” Brian says. “So, when we decided to open a brewery, it had to be here.”
Serving Sister Lakes
The Morins’ ties to Sister Lakes go back much further than when they opened their brewery three years ago.
Jerry’s grandfather bought a cottage on Round Lake in the 1930s. From that time on, members of the family would come to visit Sister Lakes every year. For Jerry and his sons, Sister Lakes served as a place to bring them together, even though there were times the four of them were spread across the country.
“No matter where we end up, we keep being drawn back to Sister Lakes,” Jerry says. “It seems to be a place that just draws people together — one because of the lakes and two just because of how beautiful it is. This is a place you can walk in and just be yourself.”
Because of how much of a part of their history and family the town is, the Morins said that they knew quickly that they wanted their brewery to do more than serve beer and make money. They wanted it to help the area that had served them so well for generations.
To accomplish this goal, the brewery hosts many community-oriented events, such as home brewing classes, live music, an annual reading of “A Christmas Carol” and other activities to liven up the town during the slow winter months, among many others throughout the year.
The brewery also opens its doors to local organizations and clubs, such as area lake associations, to host their meetings. One of the business’ most notable acts of service to the community comes in the form of Rescue 21. Rescue 21 is red ale produced by the brewery, and a portion of its profits support the Sister Lakes Fire Department.
“A lot of what we do is for the community,” Dave says. “We saw [the business] as a way to give back to the community and help revitalize the area.”
For Jerry, the reason to use Sister Lakes Brewing Company as an avenue to give back to the community is simple. He sees it as his responsibility to give back both as a business owner and a community member.
“I think we try to look at the needs of the community, and we try to fill some of those needs, whether it is here or out in the community,” Jerry says.
As Sister Lakes Brewing Company celebrates its third anniversary this year and looks forward to the future, the Morins said they hope to see the Sister Lakes community grow and thrive. They also said they want to continue to live up to their motto of “fostering community one pint at a time.”
“Sister Lakes is such a beautiful location. It is such a unique community,” Brian says. “And we are all about the community.”