It’s obvious to the rest of the city, state and country. The present state of Grand Rapids beer is thriving. Between being named BeerCity USA, winning multiple other polls — including the recent “Best Beer Town” by USA Today — local craft beer is here to stay.
But what most people might not be aware is that Grand Rapids beer has been thriving much longer than the past few years.
Author Pat Evans explores this history in his book, “Grand Rapids Beer: An Intoxicating History of River City Brewing.”
Evans, who also contributes to MittenBrew, serves as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He began planning for the book in December 2013, and sent it to the publisher in November.
“I had most of the backgrounds of the current breweries done, so really it was just a lot of time at the [Grand Rapids Public] Museum and library,” he says.
“Not a lot of history books cover beer. I think beer is often forgotten.”
The book, now available at bookstores, brew shops and at Amazon, focuses heavily on some of the major players in the craft beer industry — before people knew exactly what craft beer was.
“There’s not a lot about Christoph Kusterer out there, which is interesting, because multiple sources said he was the most prominent businessman in Grand Rapids,” says Evans, referring to the owner of the now-defunct City Brewery.
Kusterer’s influence was felt for years beyond his death in 1880, with his two sons joining forces with five other breweries to create the Grand Rapids Brewing Company in 1895.
“I think people will be surprised that there’s that much of a beer history in Grand Rapids — to know that Grand Rapids Brewing Co. back then was bigger than Founders is now.”
Evans will hold his first signing for the book on Tuesday, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Schuler Books location in Grand Rapids.