Something Good’s Brewing in Grand Rapids

BOB Brewery

Grand Rapids, MI is home to a number of award-winning craft beers and breweries. Guest Blogger Kirsetin Morello tells us about some unique craft beers brewing in Grand Rapids this fall.

Change is in the air in Grand Rapids, MI, Beer City USA 2013. The crisp, cool West Michigan mornings have local brewers ditching their citrusy summer concoctions, topped with wedges of fruit, and turning their attention towards crafting heartier beer to warm chilly crowds.

At The B.O.B, brewer John Svoboda is looking forward to some substantially darker, deeper caramel malts this fall, rolling out his Oktoberfest beer, and taking advantage of seasonal crops. “In Michigan, we’ve got some wonderful fresh hops at this time, so we can incorporate those into brewing,” he explains. “They’re going to pick them in the morning and I’m going to use them that afternoon.”BOB Brewery

But don’t come in looking just for hoppier, darker beer. As the season progresses, think about spices, too, like nutmeg, apple, and cinnamon. “We try to look at it from a more culinary perspective,” says Svoboda. He describes the fun he has making a small batch of apple cinnamon beer, for example. “What you would do in the kitchen, we try to do in the brewery.”

Brewer Rob Wanhatalo (Wob), at The Mitten Brewing Company, is also shifting his focus this fall. “It’s not necessarily a color shift, but a shift to something a little more warming, like a stout or a porter,” he says. For example, they’ve got a Scottish ale coming up that’s more malt forward. He says customers are likely to see their Country Strong IPA and Triple Crown Brown throughout the fall, as well as a rotating stout and something more seasonal. “Last year I did a pumpkin beer,” he says.

Over at Harmony Brewing Company, co-head brewer Barry VanDyke is considering a pumpkin beer, too. “Ours was made with real pumpkins,” he says, describing the beer they brewed last year in collaboration with other local breweries. They used ginger to spice it, rather than traditional pie spices, which he says gave it a bit of a bite.

The Mitten Country Strong IPA

VanDyke is also looking forward to Jackson’s Joy, an amber colored Oktoberfest-style ale. (His brother, Jackson, is the other head-brewer.) “It’s really rich,” he says, “It almost smells like falling leaves to me. It’s a style of beer that plays perfectly with the change of the season.”

Harmony Star Stuff beer

 

 

 

 

In Grand Rapids, there’s no shortage of breweries for locals and visitors to peruse, regardless of season. With the recent opening of Osgood Brewing and Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply, the number of area breweries jumps to almost 40 (22 in the Grand Rapids area, 16 more within an hour and a half drive).

For a self-guided tour, including HopCat, America’s Best Brewpub (RateBeer.com, 2013) and Founders Brewing Co., the World’s 3rd best Brewery (RateBeer.com, 2013) click here for a downloadable copy of our Beer Tour Map.

Small beer tour map

If you’d rather get an insider peek at the process, both Founders Brewery and Brewery Vivant offer behind-the-scenes scheduled tours every Saturday. (Click their website links for times, cost, and more information.) Many other breweries will offer tours, too, if time permits: just ask.

To get a taste of several Grand Rapids’ craft beers, paired with fantastic food, join the Beer Romp on Saturday, October 19 from 12:00pm – 5:00pm. The Romp will include stops at 15+ local restaurants, including HopCat and Grand Rapids Brewing Company. Tickets are $40 in advance ($50 the day of) and include beer and food samples at each stop. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the local charity, Kids Food Basket.

If all of this sounds so tempting that you want to visit Grand Rapids for a few days, you can indulge yourself with a stay at the JW Marriott, whose Beer City USA hotel package includes 4 local beers served to your room upon arrival.

Or, come for the Grand Rapids Wine, Beer, and Food Festival, happening at DeVos Place on November 21-23. The JW and Grand Rapids’ other luxury hotel, the Amway Grand Plaza, are both offering hotel packages that include accommodations, two tickets to the event, parking, and more.

Hope we’ll see you in Grand Rapids soon. Cheers!

Guest Blogger Kirsetin MorelloKirsetin Morello is a writer, author, and blogger who’s called Grand Rapids home for more than a decade. She’s enthusiastic about yoga, basketball and travel, and is a reluctant runner. Kirsetin, her husband, and their three children love to explore everything West Michigan has to offer. You can find her online at www.KirsetinMorello.com.

 

Have you been to any of these Grand Rapids breweries? Which of their Michigan craft brews is your favorite? 

5 Fun Photos from ArtPrize 2013 in Grand Rapids

ArtPrize 2013 is well underway in Downtown Grand Rapids! Through October 6th 2013, the city of Grand Rapids is transformed into an art gallery where artists and visitors come to display and view over 1,500 pieces of artwork. So far, we’ve seen some very striking photographs of the artwork at this year’s competition. Below is a roundup of some fun ArtPrize photos shared with us by Experience Grand Rapids. 

A colorful view of Grand Rapids during ArtPrize 2013 [Photo courtesy of eightWest]:ArtPrize in Grand Rapids 2013

Artists and visitors enjoy a beautiful day viewing the many displays of unique artwork:ArtPrize 2013 in Grand Rapids

A cool shot of a dragon on display at ArtPrize 2013 from Instagram user @sleepymonkey629:A piece of artwork on display at ArtPrize 2013

The Grand Rapids Public Museum  pays tribute to Grandmothers from around the world with this photography exhibit, Grandmother Power:Grandmother Power

ArtPrize visitors stop to marvel at an artist’s work:Viewing an artists work at ArtPrize 2013

ArtPrize 2013 runs through October 6th. Have you been to ArtPrize this year? What was your favorite display? 

7 Can’t Miss Events at the 10th Annual Grand Haven Salmon Festival

The Grand Haven Salmon Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary September 13-15, 2013 with a weekend full of activities that pay tribute to the area’s bountiful waterways as a natural resource, while coinciding with the region’s annual Salmon migration.

Below, Stefanie Herder of the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau highlights seven can’t miss events happening at this year’s festival. She also shares some festival tips so you can get the most out of your experience at the annual event.

Will you be at the Grand Haven Salmon Festival this weekend? Share with us in the comments section below!

Salmon Festival Fish Boil. Photo credit: Brian Fett.

1)    Friday Night Fish Boil
The Fish Boil is the kick-off event of the festival and is one of the crowd favorite from kids to Grandmas and Grandpas. The Grand Haven Sons of the American Legion are the chefs for the evening, cooking up their secret recipe of boiled salmon and accompaniments. Think tender, juicy salmon served with boiled potatoes, onions, and corn on the cob all covered in melted butter. Ah-Maze-Ing!

Festival Tip: Get your tickets in advance and arrive early. This is a popular event.

2)    Big King Fishing Contest
Before sunrise on Saturday, anglers head out to Lake Michigan in hopes of landing the largest King Salmon of the day with a chance at winning their share of the $2,500 in cash prizes. With local reports of monster salmon in the 25-30lb range, it’s sure to be a BIG year for the tournament.

Photo credit: Ed Post.

Festival Tip: Check out the Big King Weigh-In and awards ceremony around 1:30pm at Waterfront Stadium. If you haven’t seen a Lake Michigan salmon up close before, you won’t believe just how big they can get!

3)    KidZone
This free event on Saturday is chock-full of environmental and educational activities for the kiddos. Here they can have all sorts of fishy-fun by having their face painted, making cute crafts, playing games, and much more. Get up-close and personal with Michigan wildlife, including snakes, turtles, and birds. See live Michigan butterflies inside the Butterfly Tent. Kids can even catch their very own fish at the fishing pond. Again – it’s all free!

Festival Tip: Keep your eyes open for Smokey Bear who will be at this year’s event. It’s a great photo op for the whole family!

4)    Salmon Cook-Off & Wine/Beer Tasting
This premiere event takes place Saturday afternoon under a bright white tents along the Grand Haven harbor. Arrive hungry because you have the opportunity to taste specialty salmon dishes from local eateries. Every year we’re amazed with the creativity of the cook-off contestants who have produced dishes including salmon sushi, salmon sliders, salmon brats and even salmon poppers – salmon stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon. Who knows what the chefs will come up with this year, but we can’t wait to try them all! Over 50 Michigan wines and microbrews are available to sip and taste including wines from Chateau Chantel, St. Julian, and Fenn Valley wineries.

Photo credit: Brian Fett.

Festival Tip: Just like the Fish Boil, this is a popular event. Purchase your tickets in advance to save time and money. Advance ticket holders get to use the Fast Track entrance and skip the line. Kind of like a foodie amusement park.

5)    Purple Romp Grape Stomp
Grape stomping. Pretty much everyone has always wanted to try this. The Purple Romp Grape Stomp takes place during the Salmon/Wine Tasting event and is always a blast for participants and spectators. In this bracket style tournament, Romp Stompers face-off to become the Ultimate Grape Stomp champion.

Festival Tip: Get to the Salmon/Wine Tasting event early for a chance to get entered into the competition. Competitors are highly encouraged to come dressed in their best Stomp “uniform.”  

6)    Fall Harvest Entertainment Tent
Even after a full day of festival fun, there is still plenty to celebrate at the Fall Harvest Entertainment Tent on Saturday evening. Soul’d Out, a local favorite band, will be playing a variety of music including Rock, Jazz, Blues, and Funk. Don’t forget to bring your party pants because you are sure to dance all the way until the stroke of midnight.

Festival Tip: The infamous “King” Salmon and his Royal Court have always made their annual appearance at the Entertainment Tent. This is another fun photo op as you can imagine. 

7)    Geocaching Event
Sunday afternoon you can search for hidden treasures during the 2nd annual Salmon Festival Geocaching Event. All you need is a GPS or a smart phone with the Geocaching app, the special event cache coordinates, and you’re ready go. Teams of all sizes and ages are welcome to participate and everyone has a chance to win great prizes.

Festival Tip: If you haven’t tried geocaching before, sign-up for a free account at Geocaching.com and practice finding a few caches near you before the event. There are currently over 1,000 caches hidden all around the Grand Haven area.

Fun festival fact: As part of the Salmon Festival’s journey towards sustainability, the event uses all compostable and recycled products. In 2012, the event was able to reduce their total waste by over 50% compared to 2011’s festival. Almost 60% of last year’s total waste was either composted or recycled instead of going to the landfill. We have our goals set even higher for this year!

We hope you are able to be our guests at the 10th Anniversary of the Grand Haven Salmon Festival!

Stefanie Herder is the Customer Service Coordinator for the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau – The Grand Haven CVB has planned the Grand Haven Salmon Festival for the past 9 years. Stefanie was born and raised in the Grand Haven area and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management. Stefanie and her husband, Josh, enjoy taking full advantage of four seasons of fun Pure Michigan has to offer including golf, kayaking, camping, snowboarding, and yes – fishing & wine tasting.