by Bri Kilroy • photography by Two Eagles Marcus
The swift evolution of beer culture in and around Grand Rapids feels fairly recent, but the presence of many breweries (including Founders Brewing Company’s original dwelling) along what is now Monroe Avenue shows that Grand Rapids is no newbie to harboring some of the country’s best brewing facilities. We are also well-rehearsed in showing our enthusiasm for being named Best Beer Town and, like our brewery population, our enthusiasm has only grown.
“Being Beer City, we wanted to sustain the hype for longer than a week.” -Kate Herron
Last year, Experience Grand Rapids celebrated the 4th annual Cool Brews. Hot Eats. The 11-day event challenged local restaurants to create new beer-infused dishes or beer pairings to add to their menus. Locals and visitors alike reveled in experiencing GR’s culinary talents in a new way, and the only critique was 11 days wasn’t long enough to get a full helping of the event. In response, Experience GR extended the celebration to bring us Beer Month GR.
“Beer weeks are popular throughout the country,” Kate Herron, director of marketing at Experience GR, said. “Being Beer City, we wanted to sustain the hype for longer than a week.”
This means the special restaurant and brewery concoctions are available to indulge in from February 15 to March 15, rather than us trying to stuff ourselves with a city’s worth of food and drink in less than two weeks. Along with enjoying special menu features, Beer Month GR surrounds a variety of beer events including the 12th annual Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark (February 24-25), Easterseals’ Corks, Pucks and Brews hosted by Grand Rapids Griffins at the Goei Center (February 21), Founders KBS Week (early March) and tap takeovers along with other small events that give reason to raise your glass through the entire month.
In other brew news, Beer Month GR gives the community a chance to sip the results of a partnership between Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and the Beer City Brewers Guild called Tree Beer. The project manifested as a way for local brewers to give back to the city’s parks by planting trees in celebration of being named Beer City USA.
“In the fall, the brewers actually go out and have a little party in the park and plant trees,” Herron said, adding that Tree Beer has helped plant over 100 trees since 2013.
Tree Beer widened their creativity and benevolence a bit further for Beer Month GR by brewing a number of beers that include an element of a tree. The Tree Beers are appearing on tap around Grand Rapids and, for each pint purchased, $1 is donated to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to support their effort to enhance, expand and protect our public green spaces. A kick-off Tree Beer Tap-Takeover is happening on Feb. 15, 6 p.m. at Harmony Brewing Company (1551 Lake Dr. SE). Find more details about the partnership at FriendsofGRParks.org/brewers-grove.
Ultimate Brewsaders who have filled their Beer City Brewsaders passport are also being rewarded for taking on the tough task of visiting the 32 breweries listed in the booklet that has been expanded to include GR’s newest brewing facilities like Atwater Brewery in GR (201 Michigan St.), Creston Brewery (1504 Plainfield Ave.) and The Knickerbocker (417 Bridge St.). Find out what your Brewsader passport will do for you by clicking “Ultimate Brewsader Deals” along the left column at BeerMonthGR.com.
Take Beer Month GR to explore Grand Rapids’ collection of breweries and restaurants, and discover the individual personality that each one harbors and infuses into their craft. Find a list of participating breweries, pubs, events, hotel packages and information on the GR Hopper–a shuttle that safely transports you from Grand Rapids to the Winter Beer Festival so you can indulge responsibly at BeerMonthGR.com.
Raise ‘em up, Grand Rapids! We’ve earned this.
What: Beer Month GR/Cool Brews. Hot Eats.
Where: Participating Grand Rapids restaurants and breweries (list at BeerMonthGR.com)
When: February 15-March 15
What’s cookin’ and brewin’: Click the links below to see menus for Beer Month GR and the beers brewed for Tree Beer.
Sip this: Raging Centaur 2.0 from Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
Hop aromas and flavors of blood orange, dank tropical fruit and pungent herbaceousness. Malt character is toasted sweet grain, caramel and a touch of toffee.
A beautiful deep copper hue, medium bodied with moderate carbonation. This is the first of a vintage series from Jake the Brewer’s old Hopcat recipes.