Inside The Kitchen: Frankfort’s Stormcloud Brewing Company

It’s a microbrewery with a full menu and even an office space for some, smack in the center of downtown Frankfort. It’s Stormcloud Brewing Company.

Co-owners Rick Schmitt and Brian Confer brewed the idea in 2011 after Confer spent years perfecting his home brew practice. And in July 2013, a serious stormcloud rose over this Lake Michigan port town.

Schmitt expanded, “Stormcloud evokes motion and emotion, which we thinks pretty neat and it’s also a four season message too. There’s a lot going on in the summer but every month we’re open we’re having a good time here.”

And if you’re hungry, the best times are crafted by Chef John Snyder. He’s designed a simple menu of mostly artisanal pizzas, unexpected salads and European-inspired meat and cheese boards. But his go-to app is the soft-pretzel and homemade mustard.

First egg yolks are separated from their whites, then whisked with equal parts champagne vinegar and their flagship Rainmaker Ale.

“It’s a versatile beer for me to use when making things because it doesn’t over power things, and I use it when I make the mustard, I use it when I make the pizza dough…synergy between the kitchen and the brewery,” said John.

From there, ground mustard seed flavors and binds the mixture, then we sprinkle in a colorful chive.

He continued, “So that’s gotta sit awhile so I figured while we wait we’ll make a pizza.” 

Totally normal. Everybody makes a pizza waiting for their mustard to congeal. 

But as for the pizzas, good luck choosing just one off the menu, because these pies are far from the norm. The Thai One On —yep, Thai like the country—is made with curried tiger shrimp.

Why not pepperoni? Here’s what John thinks. 

“Pizza’s like a blank canvas and you can do anything you want with it….and I feel like that translates into a lot of the other stuff I make, it’s taking something that everyone is familiar with and tweaking it to make something unique and different to something you taste every day.”

This canvas is made of flour, yeast, oil, salt, and another helping of beer. It’s sheeted, dockered and tossed for a thin base before we talk toppings.

Then garlic herb oil and curried shrimp make the first layer.

“I put the shrimp on the bottom because they hardly take anytime to cook and you don’t want overcooked shrimp.”

That’s followed up with corn, green onion, roasted garlic and a five cheese blend. From there she’s sent through the oven for a quick 4 minutes.

The final touch is decent dousing of Thai peanut curry sauce, and then you’re in for the kill.

Back to the mustard-in-waiting, after setting, it cooks over a double boiler, whisked as to not overcook the eggs then sweetened with honey and a dollop of mayo. It’s served with soft, salted pretzel sticks, straight out of the oven….Let’s just say it cuts the mustard. 

So call it a microbrewery, gastropub or just a cool spot for a couple of cold ones. But as for co-owner Rick Schmitt…

“We call it our third place. The third place is when you’re not at home and you’re not at work, where do you want to be? It’s your third place.”

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