dutch girl brewery

Dutch Girl Brewery has added a lot to their plate recently. It is not a surprise how quickly breweries are learning the importance of having good food readily available for their guests. Thus, DGB has literally added plates to their tables, with the opening of a kitchen inside of their brewery. It was always in DGB’s plan, they just didn’t expect it to happen this soon. A tough situation a lot of breweries without food face is the simple fact that their customers can only drink so much before they need to put food in their stomachs.  

Finding the right person was always going to be the determining factor as to when the kitchen would open its doors. Having an owner with a background in the culinary arts, the expectations were high before they even set out to find their Head Chef. Much to their surprise, the problem was easily solved with Aaron Shapiro. An excited California native, he’s ready to bring the flair and flavor he has cultivated with over 20 years of culinary experience working in breweries, preparing banquets, and cooking in large and small scale restaurants – to the Lakeshore. You can have all the experience in the world, but one thing Shapiro always keeps in mind is his clientele.

“Whenever I’m looking at what I want to serve, there are three elements I always look at. Most importantly, who is my audience? What type of clientele being served is of the utmost importance when deciding on flavors and dishes. Second, I look at what has worked in the past. Third, I consider the cuisine I am serving, at the time. When I have used these items as factors, my successes have increased exponentially. I take a lot away from international cuisine, and in particular street foods,” said Shapiro.

DGB’s kitchen offers a menu with a lot of gourmet deli style sandwiches. Even with a ‘small’ kitchen, it isn’t stopping some amazing flavors coming out of there. Their approach to their menu is simple.

“The least amount of ingredients tastes best – five or six ingredients in each dish. We are around the world when it comes to food with our weekend features. It is a unique item that is a one off and offered at $10. Most of our weekend features sell out before the weekend is over. The features starts on Friday around 4pm and go until gone,” said Kelly Finchem, co-owner of DGB.

Keeping with the simple theme, DGB likes to leave beer out of the food menu. Everyone’s palates can be so different that it is hard to list a catch all for the guests with each food item. However, Shapiro does have a soft spot for one beer in particular.

“Our Just One More lager has a great flavor profile, and will lend itself to many different flavors. More times than not, I will lean into that one for a suggestion to our guests, when discussing beer that goes with our food, it’s just a good marry. But for me… it’s the Big and Tall Pale Ale,” said Shapiro.     

dutch girl brewery

In addition to a new kitchen, DGB is kicking up dirt and making their debut with their very first bottled beer, Dirty Boots. Dirty Boots is an imperial milk stout brewed with seven types of grain and milk sugar. It is one of their most popular beers and has a name near and dear to the owner’s, Kelly and Luke Finchem, hearts—it is named after their German Shorthaired Pointer, Bo, and his notorious muddy paws.

The actual recipe for Dirty Boots came from Luke practicing a milk stout at home for a couple years, then collaborating with Josh Lentz, DGB’s head brewer, to perfect the recipe. It is their most popular and highest rated beer.

“We are doing our first run, 90 cases, so 1,080 bottles of beer on the wall. We are hand bottling and hand labeling this run. The label is from Blue Label Digital, who was able to do a nice metallic design on it. It was important to get this metallic look to go with the watercolor design done by Jacob Zars. Zars worked collaboratively with Mark Curtis of C3Designs to place our logo into the artwork. It went through eight or nine renditions to make it happen. We are very happy with how it turned out,” said Kelly Finchem.

Dirty Boots was released to the public on Black Friday at 10 a.m. along with a continental breakfast. The 22oz bottle sold for $8.99 with no limits. If you missed out on Black Friday bottle release, don’t worry, there are still bombers available at the pub. Keep an eye out for Dirty Boots distributed around town, future beer pairing dinners at the brewery, and in case you weren’t aware, DGB also serves hard cider, wine, and moscato wine for those looking for something different to try.

Catch Kelly and Luke for a taste of Dirty Boots on Sat, Jan 7 from 4-6pm at Siciliano’s Market.


traverse city beer week

Typically, November in Northern Michigan means dark skies before 6:00 p.m., shorter business hours, and an exodus of summer and fall visitors. However, Traverse City Beer Week keeps the area energized with a wide array of special events meant to highlight the creativity and successes of the Traverse City beer scene. This year’s Traverse City Beer Week took place from November 11-17, and contained over 50 events.


And while Traverse City Beer Week might attract some outside visitors, it is also a great opportunity for locals to enjoy their hometown before winter settles in. With special tastings, exclusive tappings, and unique pairings, it is easy to find a quick stop after work or enjoy an evening out with friends.

This year, The Little Fleet held a different themed event each night of the week. Monday was Founders Bingo. It was free to play, and various Founders brews were on tap, including some exclusive free samples. The Founders rep was also on site to call numbers and give away prizes.  

On Tuesday, The Little Fleet hosted a rare release from Lagunitas, a world premiere of Slow Tako from Brewery Vivant on Wednesday, a sour beer night on Thursday, and a Seafood Dinner on Friday.

Most of these events were casual, making it easy to stop in after work for something special. For instance, Sour Beer Night featured sour beers on tap from various breweries, including Jolly Pumpkin, Short’s, and various cellar exclusives. The weather was warm enough to sit outside, which made an exclusive beer after work even more enjoyable.

Other breweries and taprooms throughout downtown held similar style events. Rare Bird Brewpub hosted a Founders and Dark Horse Tap Jam. Upon walking into Rare Bird, it appeared to be an average evening. However, with a closer look, brewery reps were giving away swag and taps featured an equal selection of Founders and Dark Horse brews. Founders KBS was on tap, as well as Bourbon Barrel Aged Plead The 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse. This was only the second time that the barrel aged version of Plead The 5th Imperial Stout had been on tap in Traverse City.

7 Monks Taproom has become known for its unique pairings and themed events during Traverse City Beer Week. This year, the taproom dedicated an evening to Traverse City’s brewing history. The Filling Station brewed a historically inspired Kratochvil Bohemian Pilsner to be a featured tap for the evening, and a large beer history timeline was on display. So, with a pilsner in hand, many visited with friends during happy hour while also examining the timeline. The timeline featured artifacts, maps, and interesting information regarding some of Traverse City’s first breweries.


Despite what some of you may think, there are those of us around Thanksgiving that are not daydreaming about wolfing down turkey for the feast. Some of us are looking for an alternative to the traditional centerpiece and main course, and I figure it’s only fitting that we get some beer to pair with our new entrees as well. Thankfully, Michigan provides some killer beers for us to pair it with.


I wanted you all to know that, yes, there is such a thing as stuffing stuffed pork chops. It’s exactly what it sounds like—in that our beloved stuffing is in fact jammed right into your juicy chops for an extra level of enjoyment. The pork lends its meaty flavors to the stuffing, while the stuffing itself creates an almost “inside-out” sandwich like effect. I’m thinking that we’ll want a beer to resonate with, or connect matching flavors in both the food and beer, for this dish. Cedar Springs Brewing Company offers up the Küsterer Munich Dunkel, and I think it would be the perfect accompaniment. The bready and slightly nutty flavors along with the subtle chocolate aromatics of the beer will match with the obvious “breadiness” of the stuffing. The clean and balanced profile of the beer, as well as its carbonation, can cut through some of the fats from the pork. This creates a balanced back and forth between both the beer and food, because the beer acts as an extension of the stuffing flavors to connect the pairing. Though the beer is not bottled or canned, be sure to grab yourself a growler of it on tap at the brewery or from local bars carrying their product.

thanksgivingHoney glazed ham is a personal favorite of mine, and it finds quite the companionship when paired with beer. Because of its sweeter flavor, and its powerful salty and savory deliciousness, we’ll need a beer that matches in intensity. I’m proposing Odd Side Ales’ Barrel Aged Sweet Potato Souffle Rye. It’s big, bold, boozy, and—quite literally—a sweet potato pie tasting beer. When lining up its sweetness (though not cloying in any manner) with the honey sweetness of the ham, you find a tasty similarity. Even the honey and the sweet potatoes will find harmony together! The rye and spice characters from the beer are then highlighted by the sweetness and create the added layer of difference or complexity to the pairing. The alcohol warmth will cut through the fat, meld with the sweetness, and make your insides feel hot and happy. I mean, hey, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of booze and ham having a relationship together (rum ham anyone?) so let’s see what the delicious fuss is about. This is one of those pairings that can create a lot of interesting flavor combinations, so sip slowly, savor every bite, and enjoy the layers.

thanksgivingSausage stuffed butternut squash is a new one for my list, and of course it sounds oh so perfect for beer. With the combination of potential herbs and spices in the sausage, and the sweetness of the squash, this portion of the meal would be quite happy with Stormcloud Brewing Company’s 228 Tripel. It’s a Belgian Tripel, built ‘to style’, that would tackle just about any combination of sausage or squash types that one would want for this dish. Squashes tend to lend a subtle sweetness that can be whisked away with the drier, more highly attenuated and more highly carbonated body from the Tripel. It can also contrast and create layers with the various spices and herbs that are in the sausage, depending on which variety you choose. Pepper, sage, garlic, and beyond, the Tripel’s yeast and their resulting phenols and esters will highlight and enhance the spices you encounter. The Tripel is a beer lover’s ultimate pairing tool, especially when a multitude of flavors are present. In this situation, with a couple of unknown creative opportunities with the recipe (again, type of sausage and squash), all you have to worry about is cracking it open and enjoying it, because this beer will be able to stand up to the job regardless.


Though we see this next dish on many occasions, it can make a seamless transition into your Thanksgiving meal as well. Beef short ribs are savory little niblets of awesome that can be absolutely crushed and enjoyed thoroughly with the Penetration Porter from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company. We’re once again encountering salty and savory characteristics in our entree, so let’s take a new route and join it with the roasty, toasty, citrusy, and bitter brew that is the Penetration Porter. The roasty bitterness of the beer will cut through the meat’s fats, as the toasty bits will gain a friend along the charred and crispy edges of our beef. Add that layer of citrus to gain a roast and orange citrus tasting blend, and the meal has officially transformed.

thanksgivingGoing on the ‘gamey’ realm, duck can make for a delicious alternative bird to the traditional turkey. I recommend doing a roast duck with a cranberry glaze, and pairing it with Greyline Brewing Company’s Schadenfreude German Wheat. The soft and pillowy mouthfeel from the wheat is going to coat the duck and embrace it. The cherry glaze is going to find a home in that wheat and allow itself to be highlighted by it. Those roasted, caramelized edges on the duck will contrast beautifully with the sweet cherries, and the higher carbonation from the beer is going to absolutely clear our palate between each bite so we can keep diving into more food and never stop because it’s Thanksgiving and we must press on. Be sure to grab the Schadenfreude from Greyline Brewing’s taproom, which offers 32oz sealed crowlers of their beers as they are not in bottles and cans for distribution.

You see? Turkey isn’t the end all be all for Thanksgiving. Go a different route if you are so inclined, and we’ll just keep providing ways in which you can enjoy it thoroughly with our favorite beverage. For this day of thanks, I just want to be sure you all have some suggestions for imbibing on those fine hours of gluttony. It seems to only make sense.

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving to you all!


Are you about to eat some of the worst Halloween candy? Do you have kids who gave you all the crap they don’t want after pillaging the neighborhood? Are your pockets filled with terrible treats you drunkenly took from that bowl at the party? Did you encounter old people who insisted you not leave until you’ve taken a piece with you? Are you worried about what to do next with your undesirable treats?

MittenBrew’s got your back. Just pair the worst Halloween candy with beer!

halloweencandy-4I think we all know this first culprit: candy corn. This last resort in a candy dish is this unenticing looking kernel, whose only credibility stands on the fact that if you stack up all the kernels, it looks like an ear of corn. When pairing it with beer, the best way to choke your way through it is with Tapistry Brewing Company’s Mr. Orange, their Witbier brewed with blood oranges, chamomile, and rose hips. The soft nature from the wheat malt in the beer will coax out the slight marshmallow like quality of the candy corn. Now that this base of mallow sweetness is established, the chamomile and rose hips can be featured and shine through, thus enhancing the experience and creating more complexity. Starting to feel fancy yet?


You remember that Bazooka Bubble gum and how it loses flavor within 15 seconds of chewing it?
No problem for us. The best thing to pair with something that loses its flavor entirely, is yet another thing that has next to no flavor—Natty Light anyone? No, in all seriousness, just spit the damn thing out and take a big step up and drink
Our Brewing Company’s Vienna Lager as you cheers to Bazooka Joe instead. Maybe buy him a beer too, because his wrapper comics blow (get it?) just as much as his bubble gum so he probably needs it.

halloweencandy-5Circus Peanuts have a weird, marshmallow banana flavor and soft texture that I think can only be tamed by coating it with Roak’s Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout. The banana flavor finds companionship in the beer’s roasty bitterness and bready burnt toast notes, making it almost taste like some sort of chocolatey banana baked dessert. Plus, part of the proceeds for the beer go towards a local VA hospital in Detroit. Now you can genuinely feel good about eating this candy, so long as you steer clear of eating it on its own…

halloweencandy-1I know this one is rated low on Halloween candy lists, but I personally love this stuff, besides the fact that I feel like I might choke to death every time I have one. Those hard Butterscotch Candies that make you feel like you’re at your grandma’s house create a fun pairing with the Cranker’s Coconut Porter. There’s just something about chocolate, butterscotch, and coconut that really make the palate sing.

Black Jelly Bhalloweencandy-3eans are ominous looking. More of an acquired taste, it’s not exactly a crowd pleaser amidst all the super sugary, waxy chocolate covered, non-complex candies out there. Perhaps Short’s would resurrect their Black Licorice Lager for it? But in the meantime, I’ll settle for pairing these unfavorable beans with an appropriately spice-forward Grand Pumpkin from Harmony Brewing. It’s brewed with pumpkin, chai tea spices, ginger root, cinnamon bark, darjeeling tea, cardamom pods, nutmeg, clove, and vanilla beans. The multitude of spices and herbs together can now combine with the black licorice notes of the jelly beans to create a sweeter, more harmonized pairing with plenty of complexity.

(P.S. I recommend bringing your unwanted Good & Plenty to this anise party too.)

I choose Dots candy with Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja for our next pairing. Partly because this candy is fruity, and partly because this beer is sour, but mostly because this candy tastes awful and I need a powerful, funky, tart cherry, balsamic-like, Flanders sour to wash it down. You’re welcome.


Candy buttons. They confusingly don’t look like candy, their flavor is lackluster, and each button comes with a piece of paper stuck on it. What’s not to love, right? Love it even harder, as you pair this sheet of sadness with Latitude 42’s very own Nectar of the Goddess, which is a blood orange and passion fruit, honey-infused wheat beer. Just pop in a button, take a sip of beer, pop another button, take another sip of beer…and soon enough you’ve got an inebriated sugar buzz to prepare you for handing out candy to strangers. The softness from the wheat, and the sweetness from the honey align with the sweet candy, while the passion fruit and blood orange characteristics resonate with the artificial “fruitiness” of these bizarre buttons.

halloweencandy-6Taffy candy never really reveals its flavor due to the opaque wrapper, but insteads shrouds itself in mystery by only revealing its Halloween themed wrapping. What’s inside? Untrustworthy taffy candy of course! What better beer to pair with an unknown, chalky, chewy, kind of fruitiness than Rockford Brewing’s Michigan Weisse! Their take on a German style Berliner Weisse, lends tasting notes of banana, pear, and clove, that combined with its slightly tart character, will quell any further disappointment caused by dear, sweet mystery taffy.

Mints. Do you think I just came back from dinner or are you simply trying to tell me something? These “candies” make such a heartbreaking “thunk” when dropped into the candy bucket, but at least you’ll have something to aid your foul beer breath before you unleash it on the person you were about to talk to. However, since this is a place for pairing, do the traditional ‘mint and chocolate’ route by eating these with Dark Horse’s Plead The 5th Imperial Stout to cap off your night.



Beer pairs with all, so don’t underestimate the power of boozy goodness on top of sugary, sweet sadness to make a perfectly palatable night. It can change a meal, make or break a pairing, and can now officially resurrect your Halloween. Eating copious amounts of sugar for no real reason never felt so good!

brite eyes brewing

In August of 2015, Kalamazoo welcomed its newest brewery, Brite Eyes Brewing Co. Just like the other local breweries, Brite Eyes wanted to add their own twist to the craft beer scene in Kalamazoo. So they decided to serve their delicious Michigan beer with breakfast!

Owners Brian and Shelby Pierce wanted to open a brewery in Kalamazoo that would offer something for everyone to enjoy. They began by brainstorming different types of drinks each of them enjoyed.  Brian was a craft beer enthusiast, while Shelby loved to have a hot cup of coffee or tea. Their interests then led to the idea of opening a coffeehouse brewery.

“A coffeehouse and a brewery crowd are very similar. A lot of them are probably the same people so why not just be a one stop shop. Plus, we can make really fun tea beers and coffee beers because we have the stuff in house,” said Brian Pierce.

brite eyes brewing


Once word was out about this new venture, many people showed their support and gave the owners ideas for the new coffeehouse brewery. For example, the idea of serving coffee on nitro. Brian and Shelby loved the idea and did tons of research on how they could build upon it for Brite Eyes.

To go along with their nitro tap, Brian and Shelby partnered with the Michigan-based coffee company Johnny Java’s. They connected with the family-owned company during their visits to the Kalamazoo’s Farmer’s Markets and thought Johnny Java’s freshly roasted coffee would be perfect to serve at Brite Eyes.

When it came time to decide on food options, breakfast ended up being accidental during a soft opening while waiting for their beer license.

“Breakfast was kind of a mistake. When we soft opened, we were experimenting with morning hours because we’re a coffeehouse also,” said Brian Pierce. “We thought, lets first try being open at 6:30 in the morning and see if people would get out of their cars and come in since we don’t have a drive thru. And if we’re going to be open, we need to have scones or something, so let’s try breakfast.”

Their location on South Burdick St. in downtown Kalamazoo also gave Brite Eyes the idea of catering to the morning crowd because of the businesses surrounding them.

“The hospital is right down the street and the police station is across the street, so we knew we would have a lot of morning traffic,” said Shelby Pierce.

The morning traffic heading into Brite Eyes is not only from people heading into work, but also for those leaving work. When Brite Eyes learned they could start serving their beer at 7am, they immediately adjusted their opening time. This allowed them to offer a cold brew with a hot breakfast to workers who have been working all night.

So, the next time you’re hungry and thirsty after your overnight shift, or wanting to explore a new brewery offering more than just creative beer, consider Brite Eyes.  Their bright and open space with the smell of coffee provides a coffeehouse feel as you enjoy your hot breakfast. While your personalized dark and tan with nitro coffee will remind you that you are at a Michigan brewery.  


Puerto Rico

Michigan beer lovers vacationing in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico, can get their fix by visiting a former Michigander’s craft beer haven, La Taberna Lúpulo. Situated between two famous forts in the heart of the colonial section of the city, this oasis serves Founders and Bell’s goodness to local residents as well as tourists looking for refreshment. The building has an inviting open air atmosphere that allows for an occasional visit from one of the city’s many friendly wandering cats while you enjoy your beverage and the island breezes.

Puerto Rico

Getting there is easy, it’s accessible by foot from many sightseeing origins and destinations including the cruise ship port on the southern shore. If your timing is right, you may be able to save a few steps by catching one of the free local trolleys that circle the perimeter of the neighborhood and stops nearby.

La Taberna is partly owned by General Manager Milton Soto, who was born and raised in Royal Oak, Michigan and is now living in Puerto Rico.

“I came down to study and just stayed. Fell in love with Puerto Rico. Never thought in a million years I would be here almost twelve years later,” he said. “I think my friends thought I was insane. My dad is Puerto Rican and my mother is Cuban but I came on my own and figured it out on my own. Now everybody wants to move down here,” he said. Visit his part of paradise and you’ll begin to understand why.

Soto has been working diligently to develop the seven year old bar into a craft beer destination. They’ve carried Michigan brews for over five of those years. He says he has partially convinced brewery representatives to get on board with his ideas by escorting them around the main island and encouraging them to feel the pulse of the vibrant territory. There is much to love about the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s varied topography of beaches, mountains, dry desert-like areas, and rainforests. Soto speaks highly of time spent showing folks from Founders around his adopted home. “Jeremy’s a hoot. We had a good time in the rainforest!” Soto said of Jeremy Kosmicki, Head Brewer at Founders, who visited to check out the scene. It paid off for both companies.

During this writer’s visit in December a good chunk of the Bartender Favorites board had Founders listed. “We don’t force anybody to like Founders, those bartender favorites are literally what they like — and people love Founders,” Soto said, accounting for the brewery’s presence on eleven of the fifty taps. “Our local brews are good but they’re still up and coming, they’re still starting,” he said. “Here in Puerto Rico the craft beer market is really only 6 or 7 years old. We were the ones that started this movement,” he added.

Puerto Rico

Of the many bars and restaurants competing for customer attention, La Taberna was “the first one to have a tap system in Puerto Rico, and we started as a small, hole in the wall bar”, Soto claims. It progressed rapidly to its current popular status and larger space. “People love good beer, and we get so many great people coming through here all the time.” Puerto Rico is “a small place but we know how to drink, we definitely know how to drink!” he laughed.

Puerto Rico“The Puerto Rican palate, in the last six years, has gone through an extreme array of changes. Traditionally we were used to pilsner lager type beers, going into more amber, pale ales, wheat beers then IPAs, then to the point where you have people drinking stouts in the middle of summer like it’s going out of business. It’s like ‘wow it’s kind of warm for that’ but they love it here. A lot of Puerto Ricans grew up with this drink called Malta which is a malt beverage and it almost tastes like a stout but it’s non-alcoholic,” Soto said. Malta is brewed with barley, hops, and water and resembles beer that hasn’t been fermented. Kids take it to school in their lunches and it is widely enjoyed in social gatherings. Soto thinks this could be a contributing factor to the immense popularity of Bell’s Kalamazoo and Expedition stouts and Founders Imperial Stout and Porter in the bar in spite of the tropical temperatures.

IPAs are also appreciated there, cans of Founders Centennial and All Day IPA are sold as fast they can be stocked. On tap you might find such gems as Devil Dancer when it’s in season. “Because we’re the main craft beer bar in Puerto Rico we get all the special releases allocated to us,” Soto said, including Bell’s Hopslam when it hit distribution recently.

The list of Michigan breweries Soto dreams he’ll eventually have on tap in the future is topped by Witch’s Hat, not only because he considers them one of the up and coming Michigan breweries to watch, but also due to his friendship with the company’s founders and owners Ryan and Erin Cottingim. “I moved out to South Lyon right after high school and that’s when I met both of them,” he said. “They’ve always been fucking amazing people and that’s what makes amazing beer,” he added.

“I think New Holland would be a contender. Shorts would be awesome, I would cry if I could get them,” Soto said frankly. Jolly Pumpkin previously had a presence in Puerto Rico some time ago but has since exited the market. Soto believes they may have a better reception now that consumers have opened their minds a little more to the idea of sour beer. “Every time I go home I’m in Ann Arbor drinking Jolly Pumpkin, I’d love to see it come back,” he said.

“Michigan is super important down here. We have a lot of people from the midwest that live here,” he added. Soto sees similarities in the cultural attitudes of midwestern mainland USA and the island territory, especially the willingness of people to go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant. The team at La Taberna Lúpulo takes care to exemplify those values. Perhaps our mutual love of Michigan beer has something to do with that joviality. Go visit them and experience it for yourself. Tell them MittenBrew.com sent you.

new holland

New Holland Brewing Company, firmly established near the southeastern shore of Lake Macatawa in Holland, is rapidly progressing on their latest addition near the west bank of the Grand River in Grand Rapids’ West Side neighborhood. Aiming to open in September 2016, this location will offer an unparalleled opportunity to revel in life’s finer points of good drink, food, and conversation by showcasing the company’s Stop and Taste philosophy.

new holland
“This has been a process; it’s been a long arc, if you will,” President and Co-Founder Brett VanderKamp said. Over the decade that his company had been contemplating adding a physical presence in the Grand Rapids area, three serious potential locations arose before the perfect one clicked and allowed them to go forward with their intentions.

The winning proposal came from Mike VanGessel, owner and CEO of Rockford Construction whose headquarters are a few blocks away from the new development.

“We’ve all got deep ties to Grand Rapids; it’s somewhere where we’ve always been. We’ve got a solid following there with huge fans, and we’ve been wanting to be closer to them obviously for quite some time now,” said Joel Petersen, vice president of marketing.

“We wanted what is an area that we think over the next 10 to 20 years will develop in an absolutely beautiful enhanced investment part of Grand Rapids,” he added. “We couldn’t be more excited about Harmony Hall being down the street, with Atwater coming in, and The Black Heron across the street. All of the different businesses that either currently have plans or are looking at plans along that corridor. I mean, one block away you’ve got Mitten, and you’ve got Two Scotts BBQ. It’s palpable in that area right now. There’s a lot of new businesses going down there and we loved that!” 

new hollandNew Holland Brewing Company believes in spending time, money, and effort wisely. Fred Bueltmann, partner and Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle, asserts: “We didn’t want to expand just to expand. We didn’t want to go to Grand Rapids just to add seats. We wanted to go when an opportunity presented something that we couldn’t do in our existing places.”

With the intensity of craft fans in the Grand Rapids market he knew their contribution had to be outstanding. “Our mission is to enhance people’s lives with remarkable choices, remarkable experiences, and I think that’s about providing them choices. So we put it through that litmus test, too, that if we’re not contributing something to the neighborhood, if we’re not contributing something to the city, if we’re not providing quality choices for people that make the overall whole better, then we don’t need to go,” said Bueltmann.

According to VanderKamp, the new place is nearly double the size of the Holland pub and will need the participation of the neighborhood to be successful. “We’re really counting on the West Side. It’s not something where we’re running in thinking we’re saving the West Side, the West Side has really got to come out to support us,” he said.

Moving forward with the Grand Rapids location won’t lead to New Holland Brewing Company abandoning their birthplace. Holland is in their name and in their blood; that’s where it all started. The city will continue to be the heartbeat of the company for many years to come. Their downtown pub on 8th Street will remain a strong presence for the brand, and long-term expansion plans ensure the headquarters of operations will stay at the production campus across town.

Since opening in 1997 New Holland Brewing Company has earned their share of the market through hard work and steadfast commitment to their vision. They’ve gathered a loyal following across their distribution footprint, as well as at their downtown Holland pub where Steve “Bert” Berthel will continue brewing his exclusive pub-only offerings. Having the Grand Rapids location, according to VanderKamp, “is going to allow us, really, these pilot batches that we can then bring immediately to a broader audience.”

There will be an indoor-outdoor beer hall open year-round. VanderKamp is proud to say they fought hard in spite of expense to keep the elements of the beer hall. The team feels it will be impactful as part of the entrance to the west side of town from the city center.

The new building’s impact extends beyond the visual aspect. The planned business model will take patrons on a journey through the full range of the craft movement. Every aspect is addressed thoughtfully and thoroughly.

The restaurant’s menu will focus on rustic traditions presented in a current way, according to Bueltmann. A whole animal butchery within the complex will allow every part of an animal to be used to make stocks, soups, rillettes, charcuterie and sausage in addition to typical meat dishes.

Rocktoberfest (10)

The on-site brewing and distilling will be of the same caliber New Holland fans have come to expect. The new space will allow for more room to be creative and take on projects that have been waiting in the wings.

“We’re going to focus on gin production and other botanical spirits,” Bueltmann said. He plans to undertake extensive exploration of gins, cordials, and liqueurs to complement the company’s existing cocktail program.

The beers in planning will be a “Euro-American wide range of beautiful and comfortable beers that celebrate some of the Old World traditions that may not get a whole lot of daylight,” Bueltmann said.

New Holland Brewing Company’s standard lineup will also be available at this location. Mainstays will draw long time customers in, and experimental brews will keep them coming back. “We are continual students of balance, so I think we’ll always want to see a good balance between the comfort level of things you know and encouraging you to stretch and invite you to adventure and try something new,” Bueltmann said.

“New Holland’s Stop and Taste Philosophy is about remembering and encouraging people to take a minute to enjoy what this is all about––which is connecting, communing over food and drink,” Bueltmann said. “This project is very much in line with that philosophy in that we’re trying to build the space that is a community gathering place where people can come in and set aside the distractions of the day and connect over a meal, connect over a drink, connect over a story, and enjoy themselves and enjoy what this is all about.”

You can find a full-length multimedia version of this article here, as Episode One of New Holland Brewing Company’s Storyteller Series.

Photography: Steph Harding

pretzel necklace

Like coffee beans to an overly fragranced nose, the pretzel has often been used to cleanse the palate between beers. Traditionally, the history of the pretzel dates back to the 600s with monks giving pretzels to young pupils as rewards for remembering prayers. Others may say the shape represents someone folding their arms in prayer. Like a lot of things that survive through time, their purpose changes and takes on a new shape or meaning. The pretzel has gone from soft to hard, from simple to extravagant, from small to large, from knotted to sticks. Whichever you prefer — there is an undeniable love for a good ol’ pretzel in your life.  

At the Winter Beer Festival, the pretzel takes on a new meaning. A meaning that one can only really wrap their head around upon witnessing themselves. Like a male peacock opening its tail to show off its beautiful feathers, the pretzel is a masterpiece adorned around the necks of beer drinkers — the bigger and more extravagant the better! Sure all you really need is a necklace strung all the way around with store bought hard pretzels for keeping your stomach full and cleansing your palate, but why not get creative and see who can out do the rest. Last year at the WBF, necklaces strung with ziplock bags filled with slices of pizza, cheese sticks, hot dogs and beef jerky made their appearance. What will be the head turner this year?

pretzel necklace

To get a head start, Baked by B offers homemade German Pretzels at Sugar Momma’s on Wednesdays. Bea Jockusch brings her German heritage into her baking and creating pretzels that are unlike any other. If you want to go with the idea ‘the bigger the better’ then Bea is your lady. Make sure you get your pictures taken at the beginning because I guarantee you won’t be able to stop yourself from eating the whole thing!

If you’d like a one of a kind pretzel for WBF this year, send Bea an e-mail: jockusch@comcast.net


Photography by: Steph Harding & Bri Luginbill