Three Reasons Why Grand Rapids is Beer City USA

Home to 15 different breweries (and counting), the top beer grocery retailer in the nation and a number of brewery tour options, it’s no secret that the Grand Rapids beer scene is booming. Today, Blair Giesken of Experience Grand Rapids gives us an inside look at what makes Grand Rapids Beer City USA.

Read her post below and let us know what you love most about the Grand Rapids beer scene! And don’t forget that we’re giving fans the chance to choose a Pure Michigan beer style to be featured on tap at Founders Brewing Co. this July. Click here to vote for your pick.

Grand Rapids is no stranger to delicious craft beer.  It’s a city that proudly serves up big name breweries like the 3rd best brewery on the planetand the #1 brewpub in America, alongside rare finds that dot the outskirts of the city.  A place where small-scale experimental home brewers taste and tinker right alongside master brewers from some of the nation’s most acclaimed names in beer.

#1. Grand Rapids is home to the top beer grocery retailer in the U.S.

These brewers, whether by hobby or by profession, work together to create a blend of beer culture in Grand Rapids that is absolutely unmatched.  “Most of the folks who open breweries were at one time home brewers,” points out Steve Siciliano, owner of Siciliano’s Market.  Named 2013’s Top Beer Grocery Retailer in the United States, Siciliano’s provides one of the largest craft & imported beer selections in West Michigan, along with homebrewing supplies for enthusiastic hobbyists. “Home brewers and breweries feed off each other: there’s a wonderful synergy at work.”

#2. Grand Rapids has 15 different breweries (and counting!)

It’s easy to see why these breweries and pubs collaborate so well— no two are any bit alike.  There are raved-about Grand Rapids’ staples like Founders Brewing Co. and Brewery Vivant that now offer guided brewery tours on Saturdays to give guests insider access to the magic behind the brewing process.  But there are also newcomers who continue to invigorate the beer scene with their unconventional brews and cozy atmospheres.  Take Mitten Brewing Co., a Detroit Tigers-centric baseball themed brewery inside a historic firehouse, where the beers come with names like Crackerjack Porter.  Or Harmony Brewing Co. in East Town, where the focus is on crafting small, balanced batches of beer paired with rustic wood-fired pizzas inside a once-abandoned former party store.  Back downtown is the newly revitalized Grand Rapids Brewing Co., brought back as a modernized version of its original glory by the owners of world-renowned HopCat, who transformed the space just 6 blocks from the original brewery’s location into the Midwest’s first USDA Certified Organic Brewery.

#3. Grand Rapids has unique brewery tours

With so many great beercation spots in Grand Rapids, you won’t even have to work at quenching your craft beer thirst.  There are plenty of creative, crazy – and yes, safe— ways to hit all the stops on your Brew To-Do list.  For instance, you can pedal your way to beer bicycling bliss on the 15-person Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, hop aboard a Grand Rapids Motor City Brew Tour from Detroit to get your first true taste of the Grand Rapids’ beer scene, or snag a GR Hopper Pass to jump safely and affordably from brewery to brewery.

Whether you’re interested in taking your passion for beer out of the brewpub and into the home, or just love to sample and explore the delicious craft beer possibilities, it’s clear that Grand Rapids is quickly becoming our nation’s beer destination.

Already know and love the Grand Rapids beer scene, or waiting (impatiently) to get a taste?  Help us hold our place in the hearts and minds of beer lovers everywhere by dropping your beer ballot for Grand Rapids into the 2013 Beer City USA voting box.  You can cast your votestarting next week (May 6-10) by going to!

Blair Giesken is the Marketing Content Manager for Experience Grand Rapids.  In her spare time she enjoys writing, designing, and taking advantage of the incredible craft beer and local music scene right in her own backyard.

Cheers to Michigan’s thriving craft brewing industry

In honor of Michigan Craft Beer Month, guest blogger Dianna Stampfler fills us in on our state’s beer industry and some upcoming Michigan beer festivals you don’t want to miss!

From coast to coast to coast, Michigan’s craft brewing industry is growing like a fast-acting yeast – with some 100 active breweries – with dozens of expansions and new brewery projects in various stations of development.  

Michigan has a long history of brewing – dating back to the 1800s around mining, lumbering and industrial towns throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. At one time, there were nearly 40 breweries operating in and around Detroit’s Eastern Market. Grand Rapids – recently named “Beer City USA” following a nation-wide online consumer poll – was home to a large number of beer barons throughout the 19th Century.

In recent years, Michigan beer has become even more local. Of course, water is a primary ingredient and being surrounded by the Great Lakes gives brewers access to some of the freshest tasting water to begin their brewing process. Add to that locally-grown hops and barley, as well as the addition of unique herbs, fruits – like beet sugar, cherries and apples, among others, and even vegetables, and the result is a pint-full of freshly fermented goodness! In fact, Michigan craft brewers produce more than 100 distinct styles of flavorful, award-winning beers.

Today’s breweries have become an active part of Michigan’s thriving tourism and culinary industries – under the guidance of the Michigan Brewers Guild, which was founded in 1997. A growing number of beer dinners, tours, festivals and other events are focused on this exciting brewing culture, collectively tapping into tens of thousands of fans from all walks of life.

July is Michigan Craft Beer Month – a time to celebrate these small, community-based businesses rich with passion and pride. There’s even a Michigan Beer Fight Song – a rallying tune sung at every Michigan Brewers Guild festival:

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For more information about Michigan’s craft beer industry, visit or


Dianna Stampfler is a long-time promoter of Michigan and a supporter of the state’s vast culinary and agricultural offerings – including, but not limited to, craft beer!

Michigan: The Great Beer State

Thanks to John Palmer of for helping us celebrate Michigan craft beer month!

July… It’s easily one of the greatest months of the year (in my opinion). Summer vacation is in full tilt and people are out enjoying all that Michigan has to offer; the immense state parks, the vast amount of freshwater coastline, the beautiful weather, and craft beer.

Michigan Beers

Wait, what did I just say? How could I even compare the growing splendor of the Michigan outdoors to the product of a microbrewery? Continue reading