It’s a Monday night in Grand Rapids. To most that means the mourning of a weekend ended while another work week begins. But tonight something’s different — there are cheers and toasts on the air here at Harmony Brewing Company, located in the Eastown neighborhood.

It’s Grand Rapids Beer Week, and locals have kicked off the festivities with a tap takeover hosting five unique brews that have been created in collaboration with Fermenta: Michigan Women’s Craft Collective.

The beers offer a colorful variety of flavors: from Harmony Brewing Company, an amber ale with beets; from Pike 51, a refreshingly bitter IPA; from Our Brewing Company, a salted caramel milk stout; from Saugatuck Brewing Company, a lemon IPA; and from Unruly Brewing Company, an IPA with black rye. Together on a flight, these selections test the tastebuds in brilliant ways.

“When I came to Ben [Isbell, brewer] and Josh [Chilcote, brewer] about hosting a takeover, they just said ‘sure,’ and got in touch with all of the Grand Rapids distributors to make it happen,” says Manda Geiger.

As a west side local, assistant brewer (Pike 51) and Fermenta member, she said organizing this event was simple because everyone here in the industry are friends.

Celebrating the west side craft industry this week is more than beer — it’s friendship and family.

“The Grand Rapids brewers are very tight-knit. We’re friends who talk everyday,” she says.

This is the week when everyone comes into town. Whether it’s your first time experiencing the west side hospitality or not, the line between strangers and friends becomes family.

“Beer Week here is a family reunion,” says Geiger. “We’ve all grown up together, just as the industry has grown. Some of us have joined other breweries or have left to start their own. But this week everyone comes back.”

Grand Rapids has several more events that feature the spirit of collaboration and friendship in the craft industry this week. And all of the excitement culminates at the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival this Friday and Saturday. Until then, preview more great beers and craft activities at your local west side breweries and taprooms.

Embrace the beer and the family that this great city offers.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery