Enjoy a Pint and a Lift: West Michigan’s Brewery Hop Transportation Options

Fall flavors are on tap at West Michigan breweries! Today, Experience Grand Rapids shares five ways to enjoy your favorite breweries worry-free with convenient and reliable transportation options. 

Photo courtesy of Brewery Vivant and Experience GR

Photo courtesy of Brewery Vivant and Experience GR

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, the allure of warm breweries and seasonal craft beer grows. Local tap lists have been updated to feature fall flavors like apple, cinnamon, bourbon, and everyone’s fave: pumpkin. Grab a sweater and a pint of autumn-inspired beer, and leave the car keys behind for a fun and responsible experience. We’ve got you covered in Grand Rapids both with a slew of breweries and safe transportation options to get to and fro.

Brian Haik combines his love for beer and history to create a special experience for thirsty locals and visitors alike. GR Beer Tours – the top activity in Grand Rapids according to TripAdvisor – offers a well-rounded beer-focused outing. On the half day tour, Brian shares information about beer styles, tasting approaches, and local beer lore. Go behind the scenes at a brewery to learn about the process and meet brewers, enjoy 12-16 samples of beer, and get chauffeured in a comfortable 15-passenger van.

GR Beer Tours Owner Bryan Haik[1]GR Beer Tours offers a handful of tour options exploring different segments of the West Michigan beer scene, plus walking tours in the heart of downtown GR. Private tours are also popular and an excellent way to celebrate birthdays, bachelors, or business events. Join Brian to head straight to the source, immersed in the history and craft beer flavor of Michigan.

Tickets and Info: www.grbeertours.com | 4-6 Hour Tour incl. beer starts at $50/person

Beer City Runner: Your Ticket to Beer City USA

When I first saw the Beer City Runner (it’s hard to miss) cruising around town a couple weeks ago, I wondered where it had been all my life. For the same cost of garage parking downtown, you can hop on and off this bus all night long cruising between breweries. Beer City Runner circles Grand Rapids every Friday from 5pm to midnight and Saturday from noon to midnight.

Beer City RunnerBeer City Runner has hourly departures from the following popular breweries: Founders, Mitten Brewing Co., Elk Brewing Co., Harmony, Brewery Vivant, and HopCat/GRBC. View the route and timetable online, where you can also grab tickets. Then, grab a pint of autumnal brew and toast your transportation-savvy. I recommend Brewery Vivant’s Pumpkin Tart. It’s not actually tart, but well balanced with the aroma of warming spices and pumpkin. Cheers!

Tickets and Info: www.beercityrunner.com | $8 Hop on, hop off one day fare

Uber: Welcome to the Taxi Future

Uber Grand Rapids ScreenshotUber just landed in Grand Rapids and residents were thrilled. Uber is a convenient, mobile phone based transportation service. Once you’ve downloaded the app and created an account, you simply input your destination and are alerted when your driver will arrive (a matter of minutes in Grand Rapids proper) and the approximate fare. The app stores your credit card information and handles payment, so you can hop out at your destination without fumbling with cash or plastic. This streamlined service is an excellent way to get to and from breweries, leaving your car in park.

Public Transportation

The Rapid bus system is an excellent way to get around town on the cheap. Use the convenient Trip Planner at ridetherapid.org to get directions. The brand new Silver Line Bus transports folks from the suburbs to downtown with ease. We wrote all about it last month here. Ride on!

The Good Ole’ DD

Don’t forget about the age-old strategy for avoiding driving while intoxicated: the DD. Breweries around town are known for more than just great beer. Harmony and Mitten Brewing Co. both have terrific pizza. Vivant has a killer burger and housemade desserts. Founders has terrific live music and peanuts for days. There’s something for everyone, even if it isn’t an Ichabod Pumpkin Ale or refreshing Vandermill Totally Roasted hard cider.

These days deciding how to safely brewery hop is easier than making a selection from each spot’s seasonal tap list. Cheers to that!

Five Reasons Not to Miss Ludington’s Octoberfest Craft Beer & Music Festival

The Octoberfest Craft Beer & Music Festival, happening October 10-12, is Ludington’s signature fall festival and a must see & do for Michigan Craft Beer lovers! Brandy Henderson of Pure Ludington shares five reasons why you don’t want to miss this festive fall event:

glass with beer and flyer1.   Michigan-made brews from Bell’s Brewery
Michiganders love their craft beer and Ludington is making sure they are serving up some favorites this fall. Bell’s Brewery is the title sponsor of the Octoberfest Craft Beer & Music Festival, which means festival-goers will be able to drink some of Bell’s best including: Amber Ale, Kalamazoo Stout, Lager of the Lakes, Best Brown, Two Hearted and of course, Octoberfest.

Beer connoisseurs can purchase VIP tickets, which are limited to 100 tickets, and take part in a pre-festival VIP Beer School with the Bell’s Brewery staff on Friday, October 10. VIP ticket holders will be able to sample the beers and learn a bit more about each brew and how it’s all made. VIP Ticket holders will also enjoy private accoustic set by the healdiners, Simplified, and a meet and greet to follow.

2.   Live Music from some West Michigan Favorites and Beyond
Ludington’s Octoberfest is as much about the music as it is about the beer. The live music lineup includes national touring artists Simplified and Sophistafunk as well as some West Michigan favorites like Billy Strings & Don Julin, Dutch Henry and Funktion. The music will start at 3pm on Saturday and carry on throughout the evening.

Octoberfest MittCritThe music doesn’t stop on Saturday either. Live local musicians will also take the stage at Sunday’s Open Fire BBQ.

3.   MittCrit Criterium Bike Race
Have you ever ridden your bike through a bar? Well here is your chance! The MittCrit Criterium is a short race, where the route actually takes racers through Barley & Rye and the Mitten Bar in downtown Ludington. Even if you aren’t up to race, it is a sight to see!

4.   Open Fire BBQ
Barbeque. Need we say more? Festival-goers should bring their appetites because the weekend is full of gourmet food for all! Sunday’s Beer & Steer BBQ event will feature 4 local and regional restaurants who will be showcasing their best BBQ! A $5 ticket gets you in and from their you can gather around a bonfire, enjoy more beer from Bell’s Brewery, local music and some tasty BBQ!

BBQ Ribs5.   50% OFF Second Night Stay
Fall in Ludington is a season of value. Great deals on lodging make it easy and affordable to stay for you to enjoy a long weekend in Pure Ludington. Now through the end of October, you can take advantage of half-off a second night stay (Sunday through Thursday). Take your pick from a hotel, motel, bed & breakfast, cabin or resort and enjoy an extended fall getaway in Pure Ludington!

Tickets for the 2014 Octoberfest Craft Beer & Music Festival are available online. For all your trip planning needs, visit: PureLudington.com

Brandy HendersonBrandy Henderson is the Executive Director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. She is a lifelong resident of Ludington and a Michigan enthusiast.

From Our Fans: 18 Favorite Fall Traditions in Pure Michigan

Happy first day of fall! Brisk autumn air and vibrant fall foliage have arrived in Pure Michigan. The changing of the seasons holds a special meaning to everyone, and many Michiganders have created unique traditions to help them welcome and celebrate fall. We asked our fans on Facebook and Twitter to share theirs.

Here’s a roundup of just some the fantastic fall traditions our fans hold near and dear. 

Making apple butter, eating hot foods like chili, stew, soup again, wearing hoodies, decorating inside and outside with autumn things, smelling and feeling the crisp fall air. - Cathleen Lechowicz
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Picking fresh Michigan apples, taking one last camping trip and eating hot soup. - Donna M. Tardiff

Going to the cider mill to get cinnamon doughnuts. Yummy! - Deborah Buoncompagno

A trip to the farmers market, a stay on Mackinac Island, bonfires with marshmallows and fall color drives on the back roads. - Kerri Tang

Cider and donuts, pumpkins, fall color tours, trips up north, bonfires, hikes, farm days at Greenfield Village, first pot of chili, apple pie with apples from the orchard. - Shelly Bahr

My husband and I go camping with our son, daughter in law and two grandsons. The whole family goes to the cider mill together. Cider, doughnuts, hiking. It’s great. I love fall! - Lori Sikora

Pumpkin and apple pies, orange pumpkins and yellow mums on the porch, soups, stews, flannel shirts, down vests, boots, jeans and the smell of fallen leaves in the cool dusky evenings. - Lisa Hadden

Opening duck season with family. - Kyle Ransom

Photo by Dine Clark near Verona Township

Photo by Dine Clark near Verona Township

Crunching leaves on the trails.  Thanksgiving with my family – When the turkey is finished, we all watch the Lions vs. Packers game. - CaSondra Maass

Going to Treetops in Gaylord and taking in almost 360 degree view of Autumns splendor. - Kathy Brisbin Wagner

Canoeing down the river and fishing while the leaves float by! - Phillip Olt

I can’t forget Historic Bowens Mills for caramel apples, hot apple dumplings, and other treats. A great place to relax and enjoy a peaceful afternoon. - Ken Blum

Taking a trip down the Dowagiac River to see the fall colors. - Steph Bliss

Apple picking at Crane Orchards with my grandchildren, then making applesauce for the freezer. - Cinde Heston

Photo courtesy of Johnson's Giant Pumpkin Farm

Photo courtesy of Johnson’s Giant Pumpkins

Bell’s Brewery’s Best Brown Ale, Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm, and Southern Michigan Railroad’s Fall Color Tour! - Paul McKellip

Visiting BlakeFarms is a must. #Fall. – Twitter user @DonnaMargara84

Evening walks in the crisp fall air, bonfires, decorating for Halloween, Witches Brew wine from Leelanau cellars. – Twitter user @JaimieMae1222

Taking friends up to Tahquamenon Falls. Can’t wait to be up north! – Twitter user @JandiPrich

What are your favorite ways to celebrate the fall season in Pure Michigan?