GRAND RAPIDS — It’s no surprise that Barry and Jackson VanDyke are good brewers — they know a thing or two about taking raw materials and turning them into something great.
Before opening their own brewery with their sister Heather VanDyke-Titus, the VanDyke brothers were real estate developers. They renovated several buildings that now house well-known Grand Rapids establishments, including the Meanwhile, the Electric Cheetah and Brick Road Pizza Co.
Now they’ve renovated a space of their own.
Harmony Brewing Company is unique among Grand Rapids microbreweries in that it doesn’t feel like a bar. Though small, it’s airy and open, and you can usually hear yourself speak. The VanDyke brothers wanted to create a family-friendly atmosphere that could serve as a neighborhood pub. “We’re very intentional about making everyone comfortable,” says Jackson.
That includes Eastown hipsters as well the East Grand Rapids affluent.
Because Harmony is a neighborhood establishment and not a distribution brewery, the VanDyke brothers feel free to experiment. They can put 200 gallons of a certain beer on tap, Barry explains, without worrying about replicating it next month or maintaining a consistent brand. The experimentation has led to some provocative but popular brews, most notably the Black Squirrel, which tastes like a campfire.
It’s worth noting that Harmony is one of our favorite small breweries. It’s got a relaxing vibe but galvanizing beers — a contrast, to be sure, but somehow it all works out. They don’t call it Harmony for nothing.
Here’s what you can expect on a visit to Harmony Brewing:
Brews. An experimental but well-balanced tap list starts on the hoppy side with the Fiddle Stix IPA and runs all the way to the smoky Black Squirrel and the Albius Vanilla Porter. A favorite for this summer is the Cavendish, aged in a cherry bitters barrel and boasting an aroma like that of a good pipe.
Fare. Harmony’s nearly Neopolitan pizzas are some of the best in town; each is made from top-notch ingredients. Standouts include the Good Earth (spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, Jarlsberg cheese, balsamic and fresh basil) and the Crispy Pig (pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, mozzarella and basil).
Prices. Most pints are $4, while pitchers are $12. Pizzas run from $10.99 to $14.99 and feed one very hungry person or two moderately hungry people. A build-your-own pizza option starts at $7.99, with bar snacks starting at $2.99.
Atmosphere. The space is bright, airy and relaxed with something of a coffeehouse vibe. The natural light and wooden elements make the place feel modern, as does the wall of Mason jars that take the place of the more traditional steins for mug club members.
Specials. Mondays: All day happy hour. Tuesday–Friday: Happy hour from 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays: $5 cheese pizzas and $6 pepperoni pizzas. Wednesdays: Mug club discounts and $1 off signature cocktails. Thursdays: $10 pitchers after 9:00 p.m. Sundays: $2.50 well drinks.
Location: 1551 Lake Dr. SE in Grand Rapids, right between Eastown and East Grand Rapids.