Ada, Mich. — Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery will open the doors to its new facility as part of the Ada Village redevelopment project on May 11, 2018.

The new space is larger, but it still offers a familiar, cozy feel the neighborhood brewery proudly evoked before the renovations.

gravel bottom

“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into making this feel similar to what the other Gravel Bottom was: welcoming and comfortable,” said Owner Matt Michiels.

The new building boasts a suite of upgrades. The new bar offers 20 taps, which means mainstays can remain while Gravel Bottom’s ever expanding cast of experimental styles rotate.

“That gives us the opportunity to offer that variety that you’re used to here,” Michiels said.

Gravel Bottom’s brewing equipment has also received an upgrade. The new location will have a new brite tank and new 3- and 7-barrel jacketed fermenters, enabling brewers to experiment with temperature and larger batches.

gravel bottom

“This was the opportunity to upgrade our equipment so we can brew more styles and be even more creative,” Michiels said. “And we’re able to brew bigger batches of some of those mainstays.”

“Gravel Bottom has become a well-known pillar of the Ada business community and we’re excited about their move,” said George Haga, Ada Township supervisor. “Their new home and highly-visible location on Ada Drive are another example of the transformation that is taking place in the Envision Ada project.”

“It’s very important for us to be a part of this community. This is where we started. And it’s exciting to have this chance for renewal,” Michiels said.

The homebrew shop will not be integrated into this new space, Michiels said. But customers can look forward to a new kitchen serving meals designed by Chef Eric Benedict. The menu will feature locally sourced, seasonally influenced dishes, including small plates designed to pair with Gravel Bottom beers.

The brewery is also acquiring a vintner’s license, meaning customers can look forward to wines, meads and ciders both made by Gravel Bottom and wholesaled in.

gravel bottom

The new building brings some exciting changes, Michiels said, but it’s also a renewed declaration of the brewery’s original values.

“When I first started Gravel Bottom, this was a business plan of lifestyle. I wanted to be part of a small community,” Michiels said. “We were able to come into Ada and really make a positive impact in this community before this development happened.”

fetch brewing

“There’s got to be more to life than this,” said Jen Hain, owner of Fetch Brewing Company alongside her husband, Dan.

They didn’t plan on opening a brewery. They had both come from different careers, but they realized after meeting, marrying, and starting a family that they did not want those jobs forever.

So, the Hains took a risk. Dan, a local from the neighboring town of Montague, knew Whitehall very well. Jen married into the community (and laughingly says after 12 years she’s still not considered a local). They both wanted to bring something that would not only support their family and dreams, but also extend that reach to their fellow neighbors and friends.

 

In 2013, they found and bought an old bank on the corner, right in the middle of Whitehall’s downtown, that had been empty for over 20 years.

“Ignorance is bliss, and we fell in love with the building right away,” said Hain. “We had no idea what we were doing and this building needed everything, and I mean everything.”

Nothing was up to code, the interior was in shambles, and odd collections of old furniture and wood were in heaps everywhere. But Jen and Dan tackled all of this with excitement—they had a vision and it was all coming true.

Luckily, they were already great at the beer-making thing.

“Dan has been a homebrewer for 20 plus years!”  “Before it was cool,” she adds. With a huge laboratory, chemistry, and natural resources background, Dan Hain had a great foundation for the Fetch beer portfolio.

fetch brewing

Jen & Dan Hain

On a fun side note, according to Dan Hain, the term “fetch” refers to “the distance that wind travels across open water to create a wave.”

This is an image that reflects the Michigan craft industry’s growth and enthusiastic followers to be sure, but it also reflects the Hain’s family, hometown on the water, and business mission statement.

Their mission from the start wasn’t to conquer the world. The belief was that Michigan caters to the craft industry big and small, no matter the growth plan or distribution reach. The Hains aimed to make small waves in their community by offering quality product and a quality destination for all.

“We’ve always been on the slow plan,” said Hain.

They mark their milestones by improving in their education, quality, promotion, and production; and sometimes that means just making enough beer to keep the taps flowing.

After putting in a lot of hours and elbow grease, they opened back in 2014 to great success and great support from their community. Since then, Fetch Brewing Company has become a community meeting spot for the towns of Whitehall & Montague, as was their goal.

Their beer portfolio has favorites in their Distracted Pale Ale, Riptide Rye, and Tree Stump Stout, and they always have a running variety of other recipes to make sure every customer is happy. Dan Hain runs everything on a Michigan-made, five barrel Psycho Brew system.

“If I had my way, there would be IPAs all day every day,” said Dan.

Alongside the beer game, Fetch plays host to a local running group, a cycling group, and local music. A City Council member and brewery regular even comes in on certain nights to spin vinyl!

Whitehall and the surrounding area have very small town, quaint vibes to those people who just pass through occasionally—“Very Norman Rockwell on the surface, but we have an artistic underbelly. Opening a brewery gave the community a platform for exposing the artistic personalities of town,” said Hain.

“Some people don’t even drink, but that’s ok, too,” said Jen. “We like being the go-to place.”

They refer to their community as their “Fetch Family,” and it very much is. When they premiered their Mug Club, the first 100 sold out in the first week, the second batch of 100 sold out in a day, and the third in less than a month; and these were all taken by locals. Since they’ve fulfilled their community mug club demands, they have expanded the club here and there for special occasions.

“We’re our own little island,” laughed Jen. “Our regulars keep us going—they’re our heart and soul.”

Going into their fourth year, the Hains have proved that a brewery can really revitalize small town pride. The brewery has opened up and strengthened collaborations with their watershed council, food pantry, local farms, charities, events, and other small businesses. Jen Hain now even sits on the City Council.

Fetch Brewing Company is a destination for new and repeat visitors and that brings further growth to the economy as well; and it was just announced that the Hains bought a new building downtown to expand their production facility. By mid to late summer, it will be a renewed space enabling the brewery to keep mainstays on tap, increase distribution and give brewer and co-owner Dan Hain more room to experiment. Stay tuned as they renovate the old site from the ground up into a vision of their future.

“We are a family growing up around beer,” said Hain, “and beer is a small part of it—it’s business, it’s socialization, it’s community.”

 

Photography: Steph Harding

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Coldbreak Brewing Equipment started modestly: Boyd Culver, a home brewer working in the tool and die industry at the time, needed an immersion chiller. So he made one himself. He made another out of leftover materials and sold it on Ebay. That was the beginning of his small business.

coldbreak brewing

Chris Musil & Boyd Culver at City Built Brewing Company

Over the course of a decade, and with the help of Culver’s middle school friend Chris Musil, the company has evolved into much more. Coldbreak Brewing Equipment’s innovative jockey boxes have put them on the map for breweries large and small across the United States.

“We’ve branched out nationally, but we’ve really developed a stronghold on the industry in Michigan,” Culver said.

At the 2018 Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival, 62 of the more than 140 Michigan breweries in attendance poured from Coldbreak Brewing Equipment jockey boxes. Coldbreak’s Michigan clients include such breweries as Founders Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery and New Holland Brewing Company.

Around the country, Coldbreak jockey boxes are used by the likes of Alaskan Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery and Russian River Brewing Company, among others.

“It’s pretty cool that the two beers that battle back and forth every year for the best beer in America, Bell’s Two Hearted and Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, are both being poured through our boxes,” Culver said.

Culver and Musil started making jockey boxes when their friend Matt Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery, requested one.

“We purchased an example to follow and thought, ‘We can make this better,’” Musil said. “That’s kind of our philosophy whenever we make something.”

Culver and Musil started selling their jockey boxes to other breweries, and now the product accounts for over 70 percent of Coldbreak’s business, Musil said.

Coldbreak’s jockey box performs because it was designed with breweries in mind. It serves everyone from the brewer to the consumer.

“We use only stainless steel equipment, so a brewer doesn’t have to worry about corroded chrome fixtures affecting the taste of their beer,” Culver said. “We put our inlets and outlets on the same side, so when a festival bartender’s keg blows, they get to see that it’s blown before they get covered in beer.”

Coldbreak is the only company that offers custom wrapped jockey boxes, enabling breweries to showcase their brand. The design also supports heavy custom tap handles, so even a brewery’s marketing director can feel good about pouring from a Coldbreak jockey box.

Culver and Musil’s dedication to creating the best product for their customers comes from their relationships within the craft beer industry.

“We’re equipment guys, but we find ourselves in the mix a lot with brewers,” Culver said. Those friendships motivate Culver and Musil to constantly seek quality.

“People in the craft beer community take a lot of pride in their products, but they also have an incredible amount of humility,” Culver said. “Everybody is so willing to help each other, and that’s so fun to be around.”

Catch Coldbreak Brewing Equipment at the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, booth 3224, hosted by the Brewer’s Association in Nashville, April 30-May 3.

new hollandHolland, Mich. — New Holland Brewing will release a new addition to theirDragon’s Milk Reserve program in April. This time, brewers tried a classic flavor pairing on Dragon’s Milk’s bourbon barrel stout canvas: Cherry Chocolate.

The beer will be available in New Holland pubs starting April 13. It will hit store shelves and across their bar and restaurant distribution footprint on April 16. Consumers can look forward to a rich stout that balances creamy chocolate flavors with a delightful cherry tartness.

“Chocolate is a flavor that is already present in Dragon’s Milk when it comes out of the barrel, but we’re able to play that up and really bring out the wonderful chocolate smoothness. Obviously, that just couples extremely well with the cherry flavor,” said New Holland Vice President of Sales Joel Petersen. “That combination plays nicely against the backbone of this beer.”

For most breweries, a bourbon barrel stout clocking in at 11 percent ABV is a limited release. New Holland Brewing works hard to make Dragon’s Milk available year round. The Reserve series is a chance for brewers and consumers alike to see the favorite beer in a new light.

“I think Dragon’s Milk speaks for itself. It’s a strong beer that our customers love on its own,” said Petersen. “The Dragon’s Milk Reserve program gives us the platform to build on that strong base and create a variety of exciting new flavor experiences.”

“The Reserve series allows our brewers to express their creativity,” said New Holland Brewing President Brett VanderKamp. “We continue to be amazed at the ways Dragon’s Milk can play with different flavors.”

New Holland Brewing welcomes those interested in learning more about Dragon’s Milk or the process to attend a tour where Dragon’s Milk is being brewed and cellared.

new holland

fermenta

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Fermenta: Michigan Women’s Craft Collective, is co-hosting a spirits event at New Holland Brewing‘s The Knickerbocker Sunday, April 22 from 2-4pm.

For this “Shaking & Sipping” hands-on event, attendees will learn how to properly taste gin, rum, and bourbon while also making historically significant cocktails with each base spirit.

The event is open to the public, welcoming both Fermenta members and non-members to participate and partake. Ticket price includes samples of each liquor, three cocktails attendees will prepare and a light snack.

Limited tickets are available for purchase here: https://shakeandsip.eventbrite.com

Prices are $25 for non-members and $20 for members.

With each event Fermenta hosts, the non-profit raises money towards their scholarship fund to further women’s education in the craft beverage industry. This allows members to apply for and attend workshops, classes, and seminars around the state.

 

About
Fermenta is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit trade group initiated by Michigan women, committed to diversity, camaraderie, networking, and education within the craft beverage industry. The organization hosts events with an educational focus and networking opportunities and provides a network that encourages conversation about the importance of diversifying the craft alcohol industry, ways to foster progress, and provide opportunities for a variety of voices and visions

 

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Early this spring, Harmony Hall will switch out their menu full of handmade sausages with one full of wood-fired pizzas.

The change responds to a demand Harmony Brewing Company Co-Founders and siblings Barry VanDyke, Jackson Arthur VanDyke and Heather VanDyke-Titus have received since they opened their brew pub’s second location in 2015.

harmony hall

Jackson Arthur VanDyke, Heather VanDyke-Titus, Barry VanDyke

“Since we’ve opened our doors at Harmony Hall, people have been saying, ‘Where’s your pizza?’,” said Barry VanDyke.

The Grand Rapids brew pub’s thin crust, wood-fired pizza is widely popular. It was named Fourth Best Pizza in Michigan by MLive twice and Best Pizza by Revue’s “Best of the West” Reader’s Poll twice.

Now customers will be able to get it on the west side of town, but with a twist that pays homage to Harmony Hall’s unique personality.

Harmony Hall’s new menu will share a selection of flagship pizzas with the Eastown location, along with a few of its own specialties. Where Harmony Brewing Company has its Eastown Folk Funk pizza, Harmony Hall will have a Stockbridge pizza “that has actually got mustard and kapusta on it, which sounds weird, but it’s delicious,” Barry VanDyke said.

Bringing pizzas to Harmony Hall means some big changes have to happen in the kitchen—and on the menu.

“Our pizza is famously wood-fired pizza, and according to code you can only have one fuel source underneath a single hood,” Barry VanDyke said. “Because we want to move to pizza, we have to unfortunately get rid of all our grills and our fryers and everything else.”

That means Harmony Hall won’t be serving its sausage dishes. But those flavors won’t disappear entirely.

“Chef Liza Marvin is riffing on some of the sausages that we had, so she’s got a bulgogi pizza and others,” Heather VanDyke-Titus said.

In addition to pizzas, the new menu will keep some of Harmony Hall’s favorite appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Harmony Hall’s kitchen will have to undergo some construction to accommodate the new wood-fired equipment, which is expected to take two weeks. Demo started on Mar. 19. The new menu is slated to launch Apr. 11, if all goes according to plan.

In the interim, Harmony Hall is serving a limited version of their sausage menu out of the prep kitchen, but the co-founders expect the inconvenience to be minimal.

“Liza is such a crazy hard worker that her limited version of the menu looks a lot like the full version of the menu,” Heather VanDyke-Titus said.

Once the kitchen is finished and the new menu is in place, customers can look forward to some previously impossible opportunities. People will be able to host events catered with Harmony pizza in Harmony Hall’s banquet room. And the staff will have more room to experiment.

“Having the two locations both provide the same product allows us to do a lot of new things, like handmade mozzarella and making our own sausage for the Italian sausage,” Barry VanDyke said.

Ultimately, the change means a more consistent brand for Harmony Brewing Company.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to unify what Harmony is all about and get down to the roots of we do, which is good, handmade from scratch food,” Barry VanDyke said. “This is what Harmony is: We’re pizza, we’re beer, and I think the customers are going to really respond well to it.”

 

gray skies distillery

Grand Rapids, Mich – Gray Skies Distillery will release their first straight bourbon whiskey March 22. It will be available for purchase exclusively in their downtown Grand Rapids tasting room. Subsequent releases beginning fall 2018 will be available through licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan via statewide distribution. Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey was aged in charred new, oak barrels for over two years and bottled at 90 proof. Following their Breakfast Rye and Single Malt Whiskey, Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the third American whiskey Gray Skies Distillery has released.

Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey, like all Gray Skies whiskey, is crafted from grain, double pot distilled, and aged in their Grand Rapids, MI distillery. Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey is truly a craft whiskey created from scratch in 500 gallon batches.

“Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey is simply named to highlight what it is – straight bourbon distilled and aged in Michigan” said Steve Vander Pol, co-owner of Gray Skies Distillery. “The straight designation signifies the bourbon was aged at least two years and has no additional flavors added. Grain, water, yeast, oak and time were the only ingredients used to create this exceptional whiskey. Our recipe is 70% corn, 15% rye and 15% malted barley creating a classic bourbon profile that uses time to balance grain with oak and produce hints of caramel and vanilla familiar to bourbon enthusiasts. The increased presence of barley in the recipe adds notes of coffee and chocolate that make for a versatile whiskey that drinks well neat and stands out in cocktails.”

“This is one of many whiskey releases planned in 2018,” said Vander Pol. “As our whiskey stock continues to mature we are excited to follow our straight bourbon with a straight rye release. The second batch of our Single Malt Whiskey was bottled in March and our popular Breakfast Rye returns this summer. We plan to follow Breakfast Rye with a rich maple flavored Breakfast Bourbon for the holidays.”

Gray Skies Distillery was named Michigan Distillery of The Year in 2016 at the 7th annual New York International Spirits Competition on the strength of its gold medal winning Barrel Finished Gin. The Gray Skies Distillery line up of spirits are available in hundreds of licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan. Distribution is currently limited to Michigan but the distillery plans to expand into additional states with future whiskey releases.

 

About Gray Skies Distillery:

Grain to glass, locally made in Grand Rapids.

At Gray Skies Distillery, we don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, we focus our attention on our process, flavors, environment and those looking for the unexpected. We take pride in introducing traditional spirits – like gin, whiskey and rum – with a surprising flavor twist, making them unique to Gray Skies Distillery. Our small-batch process is married with traditional methods to create a spirit that is innovative and exceptional in quality. We are committed to working with local businesses whenever possible to craft our flavor-forward spirits. From local malted barley to repurposing Michigan maple syrup barrels, our innovative ingredients push the limits on what good spirits truly embody.

 

Grand Rapids, Mich. – Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales has made its way to Beer City USA. The original proprietor of barrel-aged sour ales will open its sixth pub concept – Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery-Grand Rapids – 11 a.m. Thursday, March 22.

“Grand Rapids is a craft beer mecca, and we’re honored to finally establish a presence for our barrel-aged sour beer,” said Ron Jeffries, Jolly Pumpkin president and master brewer. “We’re looking forward to meeting our new neighbors and raising a glass together.”

Located at 428 Bridge St. N.W., the 5,000 square foot location will feature a bar with more than 30 pours on tap, indoor and outdoor seating and an urban, rustic vibe. Featuring a casual order-and-eat approach, patrons place their orders at a cash register and take a seat at a table of their choosing where a staff member delivers their meal. Large picnic tables set the scene for communal dining to encourage conversation and create a vibrant, welcoming experience.

The interior of Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery calls attention to both the shipping and brewing side of the business by incorporating wood pallets and barrels into its design. Giant oak barrels can be found throughout the brewpub – inspired by Jeffries’ open fermentation barrel-aged brew process, while reclaimed wood pallets cover the location’s walls from floor to ceiling, contributing to the brewery’s warm, inviting atmosphere.

The Grand Rapids brewpub features a wide variety of sour brew selections, from year-round favorites like Bam Biere and La Roja to seasonals like Noel de Calabaza and La Parcela. For non-sour beer fans, a selection of craft beers brewed in Michigan from Jolly Pumpkin’s partners at Northern United Brewing Co. are also available, including North Peak Beer, Nomad Ciders, Bonafide Wines and Civilized Spirits.  

Hungry patrons will love Jolly Pumpkin’s menu, packed with artisan dishes crafted to compliment the brewery’s signature artisan ales. The Grand Rapids menu features a selection of artisan pizzas, signature sandwiches, appetizers and salads, from the other Jolly Pumpkin locations as well as a couple items available exclusively in Beer City USA. Some popular favorites include:

  • Farro & Brussels Salad featuring shaved Brussels sprouts, kale, farro, dried cranberries, feta cheese and roasted almonds served with whole grain mustard vinaigrette
  • Fried Chicken Sandwich served with sesame cilantro slaw, turmeric aioli, sriracha and spicy pickles on a sriracha roll
  • Bridge Street Vegan Pizza topped with roasted red pepper hummus, basil pesto, balsamic roasted vegetables and kale chips

“High quality ingredients is the secret to our delicious dishes,” said Neal Crawford, general manager. “We’re committed to sourcing only the freshest ingredients and locally produced whenever possible. In fact, we’re proud to be working with Grand Rapids’ own Field and Fire Bakery for our breads and Louise Earl Butcher for meat.”

For more than a decade, Jolly Pumpkin has brewed its signature barrel-aged, sour ales for the enjoyment of beer enthusiasts around the world. Established in 2004 by co-founders Ron and Laurie Jeffries, the pair set out to create something different – the first craft brewery to foray a line of all barrel-aged sour ales.

While Jolly Pumpkin beers start out the same as other traditional brews – mashing, boiling and fermenting – the sour ale enthusiasts put a funky twist on the maturation step, placing all its brews into oak barrels where the beer ages to perfection. In the oak barrels, the beer’s flavor profile sours, taking on the unique bitter notes and character that make Jolly Pumpkin so iconic.

“Each of our pours are one-of-a-kind, hand-blended creations that constantly inspire us to push forward and find new unique tastes and flavors,” Jeffries said.

Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria and Brewery is located 428 Bridge St. N.W. in Grand Rapids, Mich. The pizzeria will operate with normal business hours from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

About Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and restaurants

Established in 2004 and based in Dexter, Mich., Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is widely recognized as the first craft beer brand to foray into a line of all-sour barrel-aged ales. The brand is distributed nationwide and available at the brewery’s five restaurant concepts in Michigan and one pizzeria and brewery in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Each location features a unique selection of artisan pizzas, fresh salads, handcrafted sandwiches, appetizers and coveted truffle fries. For more information visit www.jollypumpkin.com or call 734-426-4962. Connect with Jolly Pumpkin on Facebook (@JollyPumpkin), Twitter (@JollyPumpkin), and Instagram (@JollyPumpkin).