GRAND RAPIDS — Tucked away in the bowels of Brewery Vivant are some aging brews that will be ripe for public consumption when they’re tapped in less than two weeks.
These barrel-aged brews — some of which have been aging for up to three months — are rolling out for customers Oct. 22, as the Belgian-/French-inspired brewery celebrates an event its calling “Wood-Aged Beer Celebration.”
“(Brewmaster) Jacob (Derylo) has been delving into aging a lot of the beers we do,” Vivant manager Rick Muschiana said. “A lot of the beers we are putting in the barrels are great beers themselves. He made the decision to purchase a lot of barrels and play around with some stuff.”
Barrel-aged beers can take on many forms, and Vivant’s Derylo — with the blessing of owner Jason Spaulding — is not afraid to jump outside of the box in the brewing process. Belgian Sours are a much-anticipated favorite, a brew that is purposely spiked with healthy bacteria that gives the brew a slightly tart flavor.
All of these take an expert eye to make, and because of the unique nature of each individual oak cask, Derylo insists that “the beer will tell you when it’s ready.”
“We kind of taste them every week and see how they’re doing,” assistant brewer Brian Kuszynski added. “Cool things happen when you age beer. It makes the beer more complex and interesting.”
Some of the brews have been aging for just a few weeks, while others have spent two or three months aging. After six months of planning for the event, the brewery has 12 brews ready to be tapped for its Wood-Aged Beer Celebration.
“I think it’s unique that we’re going to have so many,” Kuszynski said. “It’s not something everyone is doing — having a festival that is completely based on wood-aged beer. It’s giving people an opportunity to really run the gamut and see what the beer can do inside a celebration. We’re really passionate about wood-aged beer in the brewery.”
Starting at 1 p.m., the wood-aged barrels will be tapped outside in Vivant’s beer garden. Muschiana said a few of the specialty brews will be available inside as well.
Admission is free with a token system for tasting the high-ABV beers, which include myriad styles for every palate — bourbon and rum to name a couple. In addition, Chef Drew Turnipseed is pairing food, including sauerkraut and homemade sausages for the event, which runs til 9 p.m.
“The celebration is a culmination of all of the beers we’ve been brewing,” Kuszynski said.
Located in the East Hills Neighborhood on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side, Brewery Vivant was founded in December 2010 by former New Holland Brewing Co. founder Jason Spaulding and his wife Kris. The brewpub, 925 Cherry SE, is housed in an old funeral chapel constructed in 1915. The establishment focuses on French and Belgian styles of brewing, paired with food.