The obvious question for visitors to Oak Park’s first craft brewery was perfectly placed off a tee, and owner Edward Stencel knocked it out of (Oak) Park.
“You can expect the unexpected,” says Stencel of Unexpected Craft Brewing Company. “Right now we have a beer called ‘As Blue as Michigan,’ made with blue spirulina which has many health benefits, so you can have a beer and something healthy at the same time.”
Now that’s unexpected.
UCBC is located at the corner of Gardner Street and 11 Mile Road in a newly renovated 7,500 square foot space that is both open and inviting with a warm ambience.
“The city has been fantastic to work with and we were the first company to buy into the new development area here and it’s really taken off,” Stencel said. “It’s a nice little neighborhood close to many neighborhoods and communities, easy to get to with plenty of free parking.”
Prior to opening Unexpected Craft Brewing in October 2021, Stencel was co-founder and co-owner of the popular River Rouge Brewing Company in Royal Oak with his wife, Martha, who later had to close the location for COVID-19 related reasons. pandemic. The couple purchased the Oak Park facility in 2018, where they moved their Royal Oak operation with a brand new name.
“We created the name UCBC because we didn’t want to confuse people with two River Rouge brewing companies not located in River Rouge,” Stencel said. “When we opened in Royal Oak, people were confused about the name thinking we were located downstream.”
Stencel, who was born in Michigan, raised in Texas, Missouri and Michigan, graduated from high school in Livonia and has lived all over the world; spent a career in film, working as a cinematographer on films, TV shows, documentaries and commercials.
“The name ‘Unexpected’ is also because I worked 20 years in the film industry and didn’t expect a career out of owning a brewery,” he said. “I actually came back here because of the movie incentives and when that dried up I gravitated more towards the beer industry. I’ve always had a passion for beer and started to working for a small brewery in San Diego and now we’re here.
Since purchasing the building in 2018, Stencel and his wife have completed several renovations, with the help of family and friends, to prepare it for opening. As an extension of River Rouge Brewing, many River Rouge favorites are still on the menu at UCBC, including the hugely popular Peanut Butter Chocolate Stencel Stout. Stencel is head brewer (brewmaster) at UCBC and brews all the beers with assistant brewer Justin Smith.
Unexpected Craft Brewing, which has 30 beers on tap, recently obtained a small winemaker’s license and is currently fermenting four types of wine that will be on the menu this month, as well as ciders.
“We really have an eclectic menu,” Stencel says. “I have pilsners, lagers, Belgian beers, IPAs, an Irish lager. I try to do unusual things. I don’t limit myself to styles. So expect the unexpected.
Unexpected Craft Brewing Company is located at 14401 West 11 Mile Rd., Oak Park. For more information, including schedules, the latest events, and what’s playing, visit unexpectedcraft.com.