- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Staton Lorenz discovered craft beer during a motorcycle trip to Missoula, Montana, where he fell for Big Sky Brewing Co.’s Moose Drool brown ale.

He frequented Right Brain Brewery after his return to Traverse City. Those were the days before the brewery canned its beers, so Lorenz carried his favorites home in growlers, or screw-top glass bottles designed to hold beer.

Purchasing, transporting and drinking beer in growlers was easy. Washing them was not. The inside of the growlers didn’t dry when set directly upside down, but they often slipped and smashed on Lorenz’s granite counter when he tipped them to allow for air circulation.

“I broke a couple of growlers in the sink,” Lorenz said. “Then one time I broke something that belonged to my wife and she said that was the end of that.”

The dilemma led to an invention, a patented design and a business: Growler Collar.

Lorenz invented the Growler Collar, a plastic device that screws onto the top of growlers and lifts them off the counter to allow for proper air circulation and drying. He formed the business in 2009, designed a mold with the help of his son, Chad Lorenz, and set to work.

The first Growler Collar went for sale in 2010, the Traverse City Record-Eagle (http://bit.ly/1RoBtOU ) reported.

It wasn’t a simple process. Lorenz is on his second design and third manufacturer, Spencer Plastics Inc. in Cadillac.

Lorenz’s daughter, Brandy Wheeler, created logos for Growler Collars, including designs that say “Brewed in America” or display a wreath of bright green hops cones, a common beer ingredient.

Growler Collars are for sale at High Five Threads stores, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons and online at growlercollar.com. Some area breweries sell Growler Collars imprinted with their logos. The products sell for $10 or $11.

Jessica Bailey, manager of High Five Threads on Front Street, said Growler Collars are popular with home brewers and others who have experienced opening a poorly dried growler lined with mildew.

The products garnered good reviews from industry magazines, including “BeerAdvocate” and “DRAFT Magazine.”

Lorenz hears a common response from friends and family.

“Almost everybody says, ‘I wish I had thought of that,’” Lorenz said. “There’s a lot more to an invention than just inventing it, believe me.”

The 74-year-old is no stranger to entrepreneurship. He started his career running his family’s hotel, The Mayflower Hotel in Plymouth, then launched a series of eight-week wine tasting classes under the name Adventures in Wine Tasting in the 1960s.

He had shorter stints selling products including Instant Romance champagne gift baskets, Elbow Grease waterless hand cleaner and more.

“These are all businesses I started from scratch,” he said. “I never really did apply for a job anywhere.”

Lorenz revved into the job that would be the bulk of his career, motorcycle event promotion, in the 1970s. Lorenz organized professional motorcycle races and equipment sales under business titles including Half Mile Cycle Race Corporation and Giant Motorcycle Swap Meets.

He retired from the motorcycle world in 2007 to pursue other ideas, such as the Growler Collar. Stepping into the craft beer industry made business sense.

“The industry is booming,” Lorenz said. “You have to be almost blind and deaf not to know the craft brew industry is one of the success stories of the current economy.”

Lorenz is ready to scale Growler Collar with increased sales and production, and has reached out to big retailers such as Crate and Barrel and Whole Foods. He hopes to gain attention from large beer festival organizers, who could introduce Growler Collars to multitudes of beer enthusiasts.

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Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com

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