Become a “Brewsader” with the Grand Rapids Beer City Passport

Grand Rapids is many things- one of USA TODAY’s Top Ten Best Beer Towns, #6 on Livability’s 10 Best Beer Cities, and the winner of the Beer City USA vote in the final year of the competition in 2013.  It can now add ‘Home of the Brewsader’ to that list of accolades as Experience Grand Rapids pilots GR’s first ever Beer City Passport experience.

What’s a “Brewsader”?

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Brewsader is a brand new term coined by the inventors of the passport.  It refers to a person who is an advocate, enthusiast, and imbiber of great beer, on a never ending quest for the perfect brew.  This has come to describe not just locals, but also the 13,000 annual visitors coming to the city annually just for beer.

“Beer tourism has been a key contributing factor in the tourism growth we have seen the past few years,” said Janet Korn, CTA, Senior Vice President of EXGR. “The Beer City Passport will give beer enthusiasts a new way of documenting and experiencing the Grand Rapids beer scene.”  Brewsader status is earned during the completion of the Beer City Passport challenge.

How does the Passport do this?

The passport, which is actually passport-sized, includes 35 pages of valuable Beer City information.  Visitors can see what area hotels offer as Beer Experience Packages, how to brewery hop responsibly, and where some of GR’s finest beers can be found.

There are 23 participating breweries marked on the passport and the challenge is to visit 8 of them by October 2016.  As you taste and try new breweries, you will get your passport stamped by your brewer/pubtender/server!  With eight stamps, Brewsaders can either mail in their passport information sheet or visit the GOSite in the Downtown Destination Neighborhood to exchange the Brewsader page for a t-shirt!

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5 Things to know about the Beer City Passport:

1. It’s free!  You can pick one up starting Monday, October 19th at any participating brewery or at the GOSite in downtown GR.

2. Participants must be aged 21 and up and can all receive a free Brewsader t-shirt after visiting just 8 out of 23 breweries on the map.

3. The enthusiast’s app Untappd has released a Brewsader badge for any beer lover who drinks five GR area brews.

4. The Beer City Passport pairs wonderfully with the Beer City Ale Trail Map- this map is a comprehensive look at the craft beverage locations all over West Michigan!

5. Grand Rapids is the perfect place to start or continue your never ending quest for the perfect brew- Go forth and enjoy the craft beer this city has to offer!

Beer city map

What do you love most about Grand Rapid’s beer scene?

Four Pure Michigan Ways to Spoil Yourself For Singles Appreciation Day

Now’s your chance to spoil yourself! Our friends at The Awesome Mitten share four fun and delicious ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day’s counterpart –  Singles Appreciation Day.

Being single doesn’t mean you have to stay home on February 14th – Valentine’s Day can and should be celebrated by singles!

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick's Fudge

Photo courtesy of Aaron Murdick’s Fudge

Michigan provides many opportunities to enjoy single life. Of course, there are many Michigan winter outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling or ice fishing to occupy your time. If that’s your thing gather up your group of girlfriends or buddies, bundle yourself up and spend your day in the brisk Michigan winter. I am not what you would call “outdoorsy,” but I still can get a mad case of cabin fever and mid-February is often when that reaches its peak.  If you prefer the indoors, Michigan provides just as many opportunities to treat yourself.

Spoil Yourself with Michigan Chocolates
If you are going to stay in, invite your friends over and treat yourselves to some classic Valentine’s Day Michigan chocolates. My personal favorite is Jackson’s Gilbert’s Chocolates  (mmm I could really go for some chocolate covered potato chips right now.)

The Chocolate Garden is another Michigan favorite that beckons travelers along I-94. With billboards featuring accolades from the likes of the Food Network, I had to stop. When I tasted those delicious truffles, I was amazed at the quality of this seemingly roadside attraction (They sell online too!)

Another popular Valentine activity is to drown our single sorrows in some Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream.  Make it a true Michigan sundae with a little Sander’s Hot Fudge on your Hudsonville Ice Cream.

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Photo by Rebecca Calkins

Chocolate also pairs well with Michigan wine! Mindo Chocolate does wine pairing events including wine festivals which is where I first tasted these delicious dark specialties, including a few varieties with Michigan fruit. They do not have a storefront, but they are distributed in great little shops around Michigan. I know in my neighborhood they are available at Lone Oak Vineyard Estate.  Speaking of alcohol…

Go Out for a Drink…
Choose your favorite Michigan wine or beer, of course! A tour on a Michigan wine or beer trail is just what a group of single girls or guys needs to have a good time this Valentine’s Day.

I’ve taken several tours along the Southeast Michigan Pioneer Wine Trail both with friends and with family. Pro Tip: pack some bread and cheese or stop at your local farmers market on the way and snack between stops. It’s a great way to soak up some alcohol and make your trip a little more delicious. Weaving your way from Adrian in the south to Haslett in the North is at least a two day activity in order to hit them all, but my personal favorites are Sandhill Crane Vineyards and J. Trees Cellars.

I just went on a mini beer tour in Grand Rapids a few weeks ago with a stop at Brewery Vivant and Arcadia. Of course, Founders is usually a requisite stop for me. Near my home, I’ve also made a mini tour right along I-94 with Dark Horse, Grand River and Chelsea Alehouse.

Sandhill Crane - Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Sandhill Crane – Photo courtesy of Experience Jackson

Eat Your Way through Michigan
Although restaurants maybe booked up for dinner, that doesn’t mean a nice singles awareness lunch tour couldn’t satisfy a friends’ trip. Most of my favorites are around my hometown of Jackson, including a few award winning Jackson restaurants  including Michigan’s Best Barbeque at West Texas BBQ.

Work Off the Food with a Dance Party
Since I’m not the outdoorsy type, I have to find some way to work off all of that chocolate, beer, wine and food. There are many great Michigan nightlife hotspots to choose from all over the state. If shaking your booty on the dance floor isn’t your thing, there is always an evening at the casinos or another of my personal favorites, karaoke!

Whether single or taken, we love our fans! Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Headshot 1 originalRebecca Calkins is the Communications Director for Experience Jackson. She grew up in Jackson and returned after attending college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. When not working, Rebecca enjoys cooking and traveling, always looking for the next culinary or cultural adventure.

Give the Gift of Michigan Craft Beer and Brewery Related Swag

Do you have a craft brew enthusiast on your shopping list? Today, our guest blogger from the Michigan Brewers Guild shares a few ideas for spreading holiday cheer with Michigan craft beer.

Photo via Michigan Brewers Guild

Photo via Michigan Brewers Guild

Chances are you have a craft beer lover (or two) on your holiday shopping list. This year, give the gift of Michigan beer, while also supporting locally-owned businesses and the state’s overall agricultural industry.

Stop in your local microbrewery or brewpub and pick up a growler, four- or six-pack of a seasonal brew and build your own gift basket with a selection of brewery swag like stickers, buttons, t-shirts, home décor, bottle openers, gift cards and other unique stocking stuffers. A membership in the pub’s “mug club” would also be a nice offering.

Many retail outlets around the state also feature Michigan-made brews, including 12-bottle variety packs or build-your-own-six-pack options which provide a more personal touch to your gift giving.

BEERGEARMichigan Brewers Guild Enthusiast Memberships also make great gifts, providing a year of benefits like pre-sale dates for the four official festivals and one hour early admission to each, dollar-off pint options at participating breweries, special brewery tours and an official Enthusiast t-shirt — all for just $45. Shop online at MiBeer.com for a variety of logoed items from the Michigan Brewers Guild. You’ll find everything from apparel, backpacks, tote bags, drinkware, eyewear, flags, license plates, beach balls, bottle openers, patches, pins, stickers, tin tackers, umbrellas and more.

A handful of books dedicated to Michigan beer can also be found to enhance a gift pack, including the Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Philosophy of Food & Drink by New Holland Brewing Company’s Beervangelist Fred Bueltmann; Art in Fermented Form: A Manifesto by New Holland Brewing Company’s Brett VanderKamp; Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing by David Bardallis; and Michigan’s Best Beer Guide by Kevin Revolinski.

At Meijer, look for a 2015 calendar focused on a dozen Michigan breweries or head over to the Pure Michigan store for one of their logoed 15-ounce beer mugs. For video fans, DVDs of the inaugural season of the Great American Brew Trail featuring Amy Sherman as well as The Michigan Beer Film from Rhino Media are also great gifts.

Pure Michigan Boomba

The Michigan Brewers Guild was formed in 1997 and held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the Guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its nearly 140 member breweries. The Guild exists to unify the community of brewers, to increase the sale of Michigan Craft Beer, to contribute culturally and economically throughout the state, and to monitor and assure a healthy brewing industry.

By working collaboratively with proponents of craft beer, we strive to achieve a 10% share of all beer sold in Michigan by producing world-class events, increasing public awareness, educating consumers, and encouraging responsible consumption. Michigan ranks #5 in the nation for the number of craft breweries – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State”.

Dianna Stampfler is the president of Promote Michigan and is the publicist for the Michigan Brewers Guild.