It might not be the most well-known brewery in Grand Rapids, but B.O.B.’s Brewery is poised to continue its increasing beer production.
And it’s not a shot in the dark for the brewery. It’s more of a response to the trend in craft and microbrew beer consumption overall, especially in the Mitten.
“In the last four years, we’ve seen 100 percent increases in our beer sales,” head brewer John Svoboda said. “We did just over 600 barrels in the past year, which is a lot of beer for a pub.”
Svoboda said 500 barrels produced is “a fairly good threshold,” so he is very pleased with the overall growth of the downtown brewery, located inside the B.O.B. (aka Big Old Building), which houses eight restaurants and bars (owned and operated by the Gilmore Collection).
The brewery typically keeps 10 beers on tap with space for up to 12. Its brews are also served at other restaurants and bars inside the building, with more emphasis on this as part of changes to create awareness of the brewery and consumption of its brews.
“We’re adding 25 percent volume every year and that’s good,” Svoboda said. “Part of that is awareness of the BeerCity USA. We were already moving in that direction anyway. It certainly is helping us in terms of momentum. ”
In May 2012, homebrew godfather Charlie Papazian named Grand Rapids BeerCity USA, based on votes from online voters. The result has been increased awareness of Grand Rapids’ prowess in the brewing scene.
For the B.O.B., part of emphasizing the brewpub and its brewery is a new image. Along with the menu, artwork on the walls and tap handles and overall décor is changing.
“We’re going through a metamorphosis down here,” Svoboda said. “We really want to try to get toward the pub-grub realm. It’s all brewery-centric.”
Local artists were commissioned to give the B.O.B. brewpub a new look, as it furthers its emphasis on beer complemented by food.
“It’s always been important to us to combine beer and food — to showcase the talents of the chefs as a complement to the brewery,” Svoboda said. “They change bits and pieces — it’s a growing process.”
This process includes specialty brews like Michigan Chestnut Ale, which can be paired with a number of food items utilizing chestnut as an ingredient, according to Svoboda.
“We want to try to really show people that beer and food are a great combination,” he said. “We want to use it as a vehicle to allow the chefs to do something with the beer. It’s all one thing. It supports the creativity of the chefs. “
Describing the first of these food-beer paired brews, Svoboda said with Chestnut; “I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m really happy with it. It came out quite dry and clean.”
B.O.B.’s Brewery is located inside the Big Old Building in downtown Grand Rapids at 20 Monroe Ave. NW.