“It tastes like nature,” said James Evans about the first course at Derby Station during Wednesday night’s BeerSocialGR. The first-time event was held at the East Grand Rapids restaurant, and featured beers from around Michigan, paired with five unique small food plates.

The event is a collaboration between MittenBrew, L&B Portfolio and local marketing guru Josh Leo. It centers around tweeting thoughts and summaries of the event, using the hash tag #beersocialGR on Twitter. The push is to have heavily-followed users influence their followers throughout the community, and therefore bringing interest to everyone involved in the event.

And like Evans stated, the event was filled with a portfolio of nature-like and fall flavors. The first course, Root Vegetable Salad, was paired with Short’s Spruce Pilsner (7% ABV). The beer was strong, hoppy, and like the name suggests, very pine-y. The sweetness of the salad brought the hops even more to the forefront than they already were.

From there it kept getting better. The second course, one of the evening’s favorites, was Beer Cheese Soup, paired with a Michigan Brewing Company Screaming Pumpkin (6% ABV). The soup was creamy and delicious — the popcorn on top made for a bit of a crunch with each bite, offering a diverse flavor and slight change to the texture of the soup. Its base was surprisingly made from a Rolling Rock beer.

The pumpkin beer, on the other  hand, was a perfect complement. The common response was that it tasted exactly like pumpkin pie, featuring hints of molasses, pumpkin and ginger. It was compared to walking into a Yankee Candle store.

Needless to say, it was fall — in every bite and sip.

The rest of the meal featured three other Michigan libations — a cask-style New Holland Mad Hatter (5.3% ABV), Bell’s Oktoberfest (5.8% ABV) and VanderMill Wit Cider (6.9% ABV). They were paired with pretzels and mustard, spaetzle and banana custard, respectively. The pretzels with German-style mustard was also a favorite of the night, offering a bit of spice after the otherwise warm, relaxing soup.

Throughout the night,Derby Station head chef Eric DeWaard and Logan’s Alley manager Tim Wille spoke to great lengths about the food and beer, and how they paired well together, noting how certain flavors of each dish complemented the different nodes in each beer.

All together, the event reached 7,142 Twitter users, all coming from the event’s 10 guests and the restaurant’s @DerbyStation account. Some of the things tweeted about included:

  • @joshleo: Piney juniper beer is very strange. Oh shorts you so crazy!
  • @czoladz: Shorts Spruce Pilsner, paired with a root vegetable salad. It tastes like camping.
  • @mommaneedsabeer: MBC Screaming Pumpkin tastes like fall! Pretty sure this is my fav of the night. #moreplease
  • @FensterV: ‘mind your p’s & q’s = mind your pints & quarts. #edumacation
  • @moorekat: @DerbyStation Please bottle that mustard & sell it. @wanttotakeithome
  • @ekuhn: New holland mad hatter on cask is sooo good. Much less carbonation lets the flavor come out.
  • @james_evans: Bells Oktoberfest w/Spaetzle. Oh my… the Spaetzle, cabbage, and bratwurst was amazing.
  • @emhorton1: I’m liking the Bell’s Oktoberfest. And even being green and kinda crunchy, the spaetzle is good.
  • @dustindwyer: “Holy s—, did they just fill up my beer again?” – final tweet from #beersocialGR

Based on the successful event, plans are already under way for the second BeerSocialGR. For more information about the event, please contact Josh Leo on Twitter, username @joshleo.