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? 

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 experiencegr.com/votebeer!

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.