great american beer fest

The popular refrain from the 1971 Gene Wilder classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory seemed the most appropriate way to describe my excitement when I found out I would be attending the Great American Beer Festival in Denver. As a lover of craft beer I was vaguely aware of the festival but never thought I would have the opportunity to attend. I’ve been to several West Michigan beer festivals but I was not prepared for the wonders that awaited me in scenic golden Colorado. Oh, and Golden, Colorado is the home of Coors… right? Get it? Golden ticket? Never mind…

The Great American Beer Festival was started in 1982 and had 24 breweries, 47 beers, and roughly 800 attendees in the Harvest House Hotel in Boulder, Colorado. Fast forward to 2017 where some 60,000 attendees, 3,900 beers, and 800 breweries were crammed into the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. Tickets sold out in just over four hours.

In an attempt to the make the trip as affordable as possible we packed up the MittenBrew-Subaru and made our way from the Midwest to the Rockies. We agreed to make the drive casual and did so by stopping at some cool places like 3 Floyds, The World’s Largest Truck Stop, several Kum & Go gas stations as well as a Pump and Pantry (no, I am not making those last two up). Once in western Illinois, the long straight highways were lovingly hugged on both sides by vast expanses of corn, grassland, and not much else.

We intentionally arrived two days early to hit some of the amazing breweries that call Colorado home. In no particular order we hit Avery, Oskar Blues, Crooked Stave, Bull and Bush, Left Hand, Wynkoop, Great Divide, Bootstrap, Mockery, Black Shirt, and Colorado’s own—Coors. At each location we were greeted warmly, treated well, and welcomed back. It’s a town very much in love with its beer, both macro and craft.

Returning to luxurious hotel accommodations after each day of exploring might have been nice, but we chose to camp with some great friends from Railtown Brewing and City Built Brewing. Warm, clear sunny days gave way to frosty cold nights (we’re talking 3 layers to sleep cold). I dreamt of having all 4 of Charlie Bucket’s grandparents on my air mattress to keep me warm. Ok, that may have been an overshare.

Thursday, the opening day of the festival, arrived and it was lovely outside—warm, sunny and just really pleasant. We attended the Michigan Brewer’s Guild gathering at 1-UP-LODO which was a lot of fun to watch. Brewers talking beer, the local sites, and playing vintage arcade games. I used to be a decent Galaga player, I am sad to report I am not any more. I was much better at KISS pinball. After some great laughs and beers we headed to the festival.

great american beer fest

The Colorado Convention center is monstrous and appears to be guarded by a frozen two-story tall blue bear. The general admission line was wrapped around the building and I never actually saw the end of the line, and this was almost 45 minutes before the gates opened. People were enjoying the sunny weather and the glorious anticipation of tasting some of the best beers in the world. It was very much like the 5 golden ticket holders meeting Willy Wonka at the gate when we arrived at the event door to get our media credentials—except that there were 2 of us.

I have attended large techie conventions before, but to see that many brewery booths was really overwhelming. Media attendees were granted early entry so I got to walk in and see the place before the onslaught. I casually strolled in trying to maintain my composure while planning my dark beer “must haves.” While perusing the giant map and list we began to hear bagpipes which meant the festival was about to open to the attendees. Reading that 60,000 people attend over the 3 days was a neat fact but it didn’t occur to me what that would look like. There must have been 2,000 people just standing inside the main door waiting to go through the gates. It was literally a river of beer shirts, beards, cargo shorts, weird hats, costumes, and smiles. The vibe was really positive. It was also clear that many people knew exactly where they were going right away, some even running to get that first pour of their favorite libation.

From that moment on it was elbow to elbow with people laughing, smiling, and celebrating the wonderful gift of beer. I was ecstatic to get some fantastic beers that I hadn’t tried before like Double Barrel Baptist from Epic, Barrel Aged Ten FIDY from Oskar Blues, Tweak from Avery, and to close out the festival I had a pour of Utopias from Samuel Adams. What an amazing journey of beer and community.

great american beer fest

These are my tips for first time attendees:

  • Cell phones are only good for taking pictures of your drunk buddies or co-workers. Don’t plan on making calls or getting texts in the convention center during the festival.
  • Know where the bathrooms are. It’s a long walk to anywhere on the convention floor and it takes 10 times longer trying to move through the crowds.
  • Pace yourself and stay hydrated #betterdrinkingculture
  • Smile and take it all in. The sooner you settle into the scene, the sooner you’ll realize you’re with friends.
  • Try something new. I am a dark beer lover and I had a sour or two—I let my hair down.
  • If you find yourself on a brewery tour and are invited to hold a hop pellet, might I recommend that you don’t eat said hop pellet. Trust me.


It was an amazing adventure and while I didn’t win control of the chocolate factory I did get to meet some great people. Dates for the 2018 Great American Beer Festival are September 20th – 22nd in 2018. I’ll be seeing you then Denver, and not as a green newbie this time!



Photography: Steph Harding & Ray Ashley

great american beer festival

LANSING, Mich.—Seven members of the Michigan Brewers Guild brought home a total of nine medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world, presented by the Brewers Association.  Michigan-based Rockford Brewing Company was recognized as the “Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year”

In all, 293 medals were presented in 98 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen out of 7,923 competition entries from 2,217 breweries in 50 states plus Washington, D.C. (a 15 percent and 24 percent increase respectively from the 7,301 entries and 1,783 breweries in 2016). The competition took place in six sessions over a period of three days and was judged by 276 beer experts from 13 countries, including the U.S.

great american beer festival


Michigan Brewers Guild members received the following awards:


  • Barrel Aged Sweet Potato SouthNorte Rye, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Shipfaced, Silver Harbor Brewing Co., Saint Joseph


  • Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Imperial Stout, Cranker’s Brewery, Big Rapids
  • Rye Hipster Brunch Stout, Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
  • Sheehan’s Stout, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford


  • Antwerp’s Placebo, Batch Brewing Co., Detroit
  • Rogue River Brown, Rockford Brewing Co., Rockford
  • Passionfruit Gose, Perrin Brewing Co., Comstock Park
  • Pilgrim’s Dole, New Holland Brewing Co., Holland



The Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. The judging panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising.

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Michigan Brewers Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

great american beer festival

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”


beer goggles

beer goggles

“Coldest Beer in Town.” For anyone too young to know, that’s the old marketing technique used by convenience stores to get a leg-up on the competition. However, in our current world of tulip glasses and Belgian dubbels, this idea seems as antiquated as renting VHS movies from a grocery store. These days, ice-cold, mass-produced lagers are supposed to be consumed exclusively by NASCAR fans or old men who call women ‘gals.’

But maybe those guys are onto something. Do you know who else drinks that swill? Me. Do you know who else should? You. That’s right, all of you highbrow haters, it’s time to admit that sometimes nothing tastes better than a dirt-cheap, corporate-owned, golden, American macrobrew.

Some things are just meant to go together. Like pork and beans or Cheech and Chong—summer and cold, cheap beer are a match made in heaven. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to spend the day canoeing down a river, what’s in the cooler—a 7.2% IPA? Only if you think an aluminum canoe makes for a comfy bed. If you’re headed to a music festival what are you going to buy—some Scotch Ale? Only if you want to spend a hundred bucks on a ticket and not make it past the opening act. If your perfect summer day revolves around sunlight and hours of drinking, some Corona’s or Busch Lights’ are the only way to go.

And it’s not just the lower alcohol content that makes them great. If it’s 85 degrees, and you’ve just finished working in the yard and the sweat is pouring, look right past that special nitro stout, grab the Miller High Life and quench your thirst with the Champagne of Beers. It’ll taste great and you won’t have to worry about finding the appropriate glass or making sure it’s at the ideal serving temperature. Not to mention that all of those beers are still ‘twist-offs’ and there’s a million ways to do that while looking like a badass.

I know what you’re thinking. You think that I’m just another hipster who likes to buy his PBR’s ironically and it’s more of a self-flagellating style statement than truly reflective of my tastes, but I’m married with two kids and the size of my love handles make ‘skinny jeans’ a physical impossibility. I assure you that if I’m holding a can of Blue Ribbon, it’s not as an accessory.

And speaking of tastes, there’s this notion that macrobrews taste like someone dropped a bunch of dirty pennies into a bottle of club soda and called it beer. But just because your palette has been tainted by sour beers and the bitterness of hops doesn’t mean that lagers and pilsners don’t have their place. And that place is setting right beside a bacon cheeseburger or a pizza. An Imperial IPA might pair well with an artichoke and arugula flatbread, but don’t overlook the beautiful simplicity of a double pepperoni pizza with a tall glass of Bud. Whether we’re talking about music, movies or whatever—the classics are classic for a reason.

Let’s also not overlook the simple economics. My wife recently bought me a $26 four-pack of beer. I’ll repeat that…a $26 four-pack. Of beer. Now, I liked that beer quite a bit. It was delicious. But I don’t make nearly enough money and I drink way too often for that to be commonplace. Sometimes it’s perfectly acceptable to channel your inner 22-year-old self and buy the cheapest beer you can find. (except Natural Light…I mean, we’re not animals, here.) Have you ever hosted a barbeque and wanted to buy craft beer for everyone at the party? You can spend $200 and it doesn’t even fill up your cart. There’s no shame in a keg of LaBatt’s.

I’m not arguing that you should ditch your growlers and give up on your neighborhood brewery. The craft beer industry has grown for a very simple reason—they make awesome beer. Large, corporate, macrobrews have a stranglehold on the American beer market that they arguably don’t deserve and they’ve abused their position of power. In the past, we bought our beer because of marketing gimmicks. There was a time when our buying decisions weren’t based on taste but rather on which group of retired jocks we thought were cooler. Today, small brewers are unquestionably making a superior product. They’ve taught us to expand our horizons and actually give some thought to what we order when we belly up to the bar.

I love craft beer. But they aren’t always the appropriate choice. “Casablanca” is an incredible movie, but in certain situations, “Die Hard” is the better viewing option. That expensive barleywine may be amazing, but I guarantee you the Coors Banquet Beer will make your next tailgate complete.

So don’t be afraid, my beer-loving friends. You too can live the High Life without regret. Spuds Mackenzie is a cool dude and all are welcome at his party. Just remember, no fancy glassware around his pool.


burning foot

Organizers of the Lakeshore Brewers Guild know how to throw an epic end of summer bash. They hosted 65 breweries from all around the shores of Lake Michigan, brought in several legendary bands to play live music, set up a couple community bonfires, offered overnight camping on the shore of Lake Michigan, and mixed it all together at Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Beach.

The park’s vast stretch of white sand and fresh water was the ideal location for the appreciative crowd of attendees to savor gathering with friends at this year’s 3rd annual event. Cool breezes off the lake kept everyone smiling on a day of perfect summer sunshine.

A friendly reminder printed on the event program says “Be sure to enjoy yourself while you’re here, which shouldn’t be too hard since you’re on one of the most beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan, taking in the sights, and sounds, and friends all around you, cheers!”

Beer enthusiasts had a fair share of options from local and regional breweries. Participating guild members are mainly located in counties that border Lake Michigan, with a few inclusions from further inland.

burning foot fest

burning foot fest

burning foot fest

Music filled the air throughout the event, including Melophobix, Southpaw, and Tropidelic‘s synergistic sounds. Festival favorites Badfish returned this year to please the crowd with retro Sublime hits. Headliners Less Than Jake ended the evening with a raucous pit of revelers in front of the stage doing their thing. Guests left the festival grounds with grins on their faces.

“Where else can you go and enjoy beer from over 60 breweries on arguably the most beautiful beach in Michigan? Burning Foot has become one of our most anticipated days of the year—we liken it to Christmas for the beer-lover. It’s worth every penny that we spend to enter. We already have it on the calendar for next summer!” said Amy Silvis, who has attended all 3 years along with her husband Josh.

Next year’s festival is slated for Saturday, August 25th. Tickets will go on sale in June.



Photography: Steph Harding

city built brewing

As they finish their third month of being open to the public, we checked in with City Built Brewing Company to see what they have learned along the way.

Though the brewery had been slated to open in September 2016, it actually became open to the public in May 2017. Brewery Co-Owner Edwin Collazo doesn’t see that as a failure.

city built brewing

Edwin Collazo

“I think we had a really strong opening because we had lots of time to prepare and change our minds, and change our minds, and change our minds again. In hindsight, it was a blessing,” Collazo said.

City Built is located in Grand Rapids. It occupies 6,800 square feet at 820 Monroe Ave, just north of the Sixth Street Bridge–an iconic structure in Grand Rapids. City Built is owned by Collazo, the brewery’s general manager, and Dave Petroelje, chief brew officer. The two have over 25 years combined brewing experience. Petroelje is accompanied in the brew house by Rob Qualls, a seasoned homebrewer who used to work in a local home brew shop.

The largest change Collazo and Petroelje have made is that they are now open on Tuesdays and have Happy Hour specials. From now on, guests can celebrate “Taco Tuesday” at City Built. Additionally, they tweaked their hours a bit to make them less confusing. City Built is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 11am-11pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11am-12pm and Sundays 12pm-10pm. Happy Hour is during the week from 3pm-6pm, offering $2 cream ales, $2 off all full pours, 50% off drinks for lifetime members of City Built’s mug club, and a special Happy Hour food menu.

Collazo and Petroelje consider City Built a restaurant first—one that just happens to also make beer. They serve Puerto Rican-inspired food, beer brewed in-house, locally made mead, cider, wine, and pop.  

city built brewing

Dave Petroelje

Speaking of the menu, Collazo is fully aware that tacos are not a Puerto Rican thing. Collazo is, in fact, Puerto Rican. Sometimes, he said, he’s too Puerto Rican for his own good.

“I have never been accused of not being Puerto Rican enough. If my grandma walked in, she would ask what did you do with the food?” said Collazo.

Tacos and tortas are on City Built’s menu, two things that traditionally are not found on the Puerto Rican dinner table. Collazo’s wife Karen is the mastermind behind the menu. Though not Puerto Rican herself, Karen Collazo spent many hours learning from Edwin Collazo’s uncle, aunt, and sister on what Puerto Rican food is and how to prepare it. The menu at City Built is a combination of what she learned, the ingredients we have available in West Michigan, and her own Dutch twist.

The Bori Balls, for instance, were created by having leftover rice—and in the Dutch culture, nothing should ever go to waste.

City Built Executive Head Chef Elizabeth Ebel and Sous Chef Kyle Murray have taken the base flavors Karen Collazo learned and freshened them up.

“It is really a Puerto Rican-inspired flavor in a very familiar vessel in West Michigan,” said Collazo. “I wanted to open a place where Hispanics could come to in a nice part of town. I knew that if we had it they would come. They are coming. For the most part, it has been really positive. They dig it.”

City Built was made to be a home away from home, allowing guests to use the taproom how they want to—including families with children.

city built brewing

“We both have kids, and we would like to bring our family out. It isn’t as prevalent in the U.S. that people bring their families to the brewery.” Petroelje said.

Petroelje believes that allowing people to bring their children helps encourage a better drinking culture. City Built doesn’t have a lot of high-ABV beer. It is a place where one can enjoy a couple beers and still get themselves and their family safely home. Just like there are plenty of beverages for adults to enjoy at City Built, there is also a kid’s corner overflowing with kid activities. There is also a kid’s food menu.

City Built is all about showing the love for craft beer by making the strange become the familiar, and the familiar fresh and bold, while making their beer with strength through diversity.


Photography: Steph Harding

short's fest

“Today is obviously a beautiful day,” said Eric Tranchell, Beer Liberator for Short’s Brewing Company.

August 5th was, in fact, a perfect day for the brewery’s annual Short’s Fest: blue skies, 70 degrees, and plenty of beer on tap. Held against the backdrop of the Elk Rapids production facility, it was a casual summer gathering compared to the spring rave of an anniversary that happens every April at the original pub and brewery in Bellaire.

short's fest

It had a different feel, first of all. It was still a celebration of Short’s beer, but everything was less frenzied, more contained and more intimate. It was like attending a neighbor’s backyard barbeque.

The production facility, more fondly known as the “pull barn,” has  become a spot for summer pit stops. Trying something new, Short’s opened its Elk Rapids grounds to patrons for casual evening eats, Short’s and Starcut Ciders beverages, and facility tours. It has been a great success and has bonded the company with the Elk Rapids community even further.

This more casual gathering was a breath of fresh air following the previous week’s announcement of Short’s new partnership with Lagunitas, which created quite a frenzy in the Michigan craft beer world.

The Short’s staff at the Elk Rapids celebration were generally excited and glad to be together for a night, serving beer and toasting another summer amidst local patrons.

“There are a lot of unknowns for Short’s right now, but Short’s has always been good with unknowns. It just means a lot of possibilities,” said Tranchell.

Owner Joe Short was spotted scaling one of the beer trucks, maybe to better take in the crowd and enjoy the festivities.

“We never imagined Short’s was going to be this big,” said Tranchell, “and now we have a big family to take care of—and I mean every Short’s employee. And Joe himself has told me that he is responsible for every person here. He wants to know everyone is taken care of, from top to bottom.”

That united front of Short’s staff—their family—was what made the atmosphere of Short’s Fest so relaxed and welcoming.

“Short’s Fest is the pinnacle of summer,” said Emily Sullivan, marketing communication associate for the company.

Short’s beers and Starcut Ciders flowed from multiple stations on the fest grounds. Favorites of the evening were Always on Vacation, a beautiful and simple session IPA, and Gose Good With Wood, a French oak passion fruit Gose that was a perfect blend of tart, salty, and fruity. Fest-goers also had the opportunity to purchase the specialty bomber release of She Uses Tangerine, a Belgian Strong Ale made with tangerines.

short's fest

Music for the night featured Red Herring, The Mark Lavengood Band, The Go Rounds, and Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers.

Short’s Fest always takes place in conjunction with Elk Rapids Harbor Days, and tonight the last call for beer coincided with the town’s fireworks display over the harbor.

Short’s Brewing Company has lived by the mantra, “stay awesome hungry” over their 13 years of existence.

“Tonight,” Sullivan said, “I feel ‘awesome fed.’”


Photography: Kaitlyn Rickman

beards brewery

The first time I ventured out to Beards, I nearly missed it driving through downtown Petoskey. The sign was relatively small on an easy-to-miss building. The brewery itself was tucked in the back of a building, down a stone path in what looked like an enclosed outdoor space. The taproom was small, cozy, full of board games, and a record player was playing in the background. It felt like a secret you only wanted your good friends to know about.

Fast-forward five years, and Beards has become a staple in the Petoskey community. Now on the corner of US-31 and Lake Street, the brewery resides in the former Whitecaps building and is one of the first things you encounter as you enter downtown.

beards brewery

And while the space is larger, feels more expansive, and has extraordinary views, it maintains a similar atmosphere as the original space.

“We wanted to keep as much of the old place as we could,” said Ben Slocum, Beards co-founder.

Upon entering, a stone path that pays tribute to the original guides you to the taproom surrounded in natural elements. And, if you look closely, you might be able to spot the original bar and large Beards logo.

At the same time, the new space on Lake Street feels more “grown-up” with intimate booths, more community tables, and a grand staircase. There’s also an opportunity to escape upstairs to a more intimate space, where the board games and vinyl records can still be found.

The move from a small, intimate space to a large, inviting one exemplifies Beards five-year journey. Starting on a one-barrel brewing system, Beards had a humble beginning. Word spread quickly about the excellent beer and atmosphere, and after just two years, a 4,000 square foot production facility was opened in Charlevoix. The production facility contains a 15-barrel system and has allowed Beards to expand its production and distribution.

“We sold more on July 2 than we did during all of our winter months combined,” said Slocum, referencing their continuous growth and expansion.

Beards is now canning and can now be found throughout Northern Michigan, the Kalamazoo/Grand Rapids area, and throughout Wayne County. Recently, Beards released its first bomber: Gin Barrel Aged Luna.

beards brewery

And now that the brewery has taken over an old restaurant and has more space, it also features a full food menu. As much as possible is made in house, from brat buns to braised lamb shank, which compliments everything Beards has become known for.

“We craft beer, why not craft food?” said Slocum.

Beards will officially be celebrating its five years of success from August 17-19; the new taproom is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11a.m. to midnight.



As they appraoch three years of business, Tripelroot, Zeeland’s first and only brewpub, is maintaining a focus on crafting an experience that is simple, sustainable, and social.

The space was designed using only three materials: brick, wood, and metal. Same goes for the menu, which exclusively offers stonebreads, appetizers, and salads.

The pub was developed and is consciously maintained to be sustainable through constant efforts to reuse, recycle, and repurpose.

The folks at Tripelroot love to pair good beer with great company, and the atmosphere of the pub reflects that mentality by fostering a social experience for the community.

Until recently, the space was previously uninhabited for nearly a decade. Now it’s home to Zeeland’s only brewpub—and in February, they were approved to double in size by moving into the adjacent building.

We decided to pay Laura Gentry a visit to ask some questions about the budding brewpub and their plans for the future.




Tripelroot is Zeeland’s only brewpub. When you opened in 2014, were you looking to fill a hole in the market, or were you inspired by something more personal?

I’d say a little bit of both! Even though we didn’t grow up in Zeeland, we fell in love with its quaint hometown feel as soon as we arrived. It was close to home, close to work, and it offered a great environment to raise a family.

So we knew we loved the people, and we knew those people were in need of a place to gather and share great beer. On top of that, we had always dreamt of opening our own brewpub. The pieces seemed to fit together so we had to go for it.


What was the inspiration for the name, Tripelroot?

The idea for the name was supposed to reflect two aspects. First, we wanted a subtle beer reference with a nod to the Belgian Tripel. The second half, “root”, eludes to stability and a source of life for plants…a fitting reference for how we see ourselves in this community.


Zeeland was “dry” until 2006. With a town that has been relatively slow to develop its dining options, how do you think Tripelroot has affected the community?

It has been amazing watching the town transform in recent years. Although we can’t take credit for all the change, we’re happy to say Tripelroot has become a centerpiece of the community.

When we moved here, downtown was empty after 5 o’clock. Now, people have difficulty finding a parking space on weekdays.


Sounds like a good problem to have! So you were approved for expansion in February. What are your plans for the new space?

Yes! We are very excited about the new space, which opened around Memorial Day this year. With the beer garden, our capacity is approximately 100 people, which often isn’t enough on our busy nights. So when the space next door opened up, we jumped on the opportunity to expand. We’re excited to say we already have 15-20 private events booked for for 2017 as well as overflow space for the busy evenings.



What hurdles have you been dealing with in the first two years of business?

Great question. I definitely think the city of Zeeland recognized that the town needed places like Tripelroot. In the beginning, however, the city required us to meet 60% food sales. With beer being our main product, we had to collaborate with the city to better align their expectations with those of the state.

Another one of our biggest challenges has been keeping up with demand. Hiring and retaining good, dependable employees has been tough with the pace we’ve established.


Simple. Sustainable. Social. I love it. Why did you choose these three words? Can you tell me what they mean to you personally and how they influence the brewpub?

We feel that our lifestyle can be boiled down to these three words. Living simply is key for us. It’s one of the reasons we love Zeeland so much. And we wanted to reflect simple living in the design of the space by using only brick, wood, and metal.

Sustainability is another aspect of Tripelroot that we find important. Most of what we consume in the kitchen and taproom is compostable. We actually only produce 1 – 1.5 pounds of trash every day! Even our food scraps go to good use. Some of our mug club members have a pig named Mini that gets the best of the best from our kitchen.

Creating a social environment has always been top-of-mind for us. We feel that a good brewpub is a place for community, it is a comfortable environment where friends and family can meet and share stories and reconnect.


Where did you draw inspiration for your food menu?

European beer and food culture has always been interesting to us. A lot can be said about people who’ve been brewing for hundreds of years. The stonebreads are actually our interpretation of a traditional German street food that we’ve always loved. We reuse the spent grains for our beer to make the dough in the bread.



Let’s talk beer. What is the plan for Zeeland Brewing? Are the two entities working in tandem or are they be separate?

They are separate entities, but we are contracting Zeeland Brewing to brew and distribute Tripelroot beer since we can’t do this with a brewpub license. As a brewpub, we can sell other breweries’ beer, which is a freedom we enjoy and want to continue.


The beer catalog is tremendous. How have you crafted your selection?

We definitely like to maintain a range of beers to appeal to all drinkers. So we’ll have Wheat, IPA, Double IPA, Belgian, and Stout, enough variation to keep things interesting. We want Tripelroot to be educational in a way. Despite the beer culture in West Michigan, we still have many customers who are new to craft beer. Offering a wide variety of beer, including our Cellar Series and some fun cocktail creations, we plan to give the Zeeland community a taste of the craft the we love and appreciate.


Wonderful. Is there anything else you’d personally like to touch on?

Yes! I’d love to talk about some of the events coming up this summer.

On August 19, we have the Mud Flap, which is our second year hosting the event. It is an “Amazing Race” style event where contestants compete in a scavenger hunt on bicycles around the city. Last year, we had a great turnout that raised over $3,100 for Susan G. Komen, and we hope to keep building and growing the event as time goes by.

Lastly, there is Wednesday’s Training Session Day where we invite community members to go for a bike ride in the trails around town. We also invite runners and swimmers to join in on the physical activity. Then, we all meet at the pub to enjoy our Session Ale and recover after a hard day’s work.

So come out and join for one of the many events this summer!

Thanks so much for your time, Laura. It’s been great talking with you.


Photography: Amee Rutan