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Grand Rapids, Mich. — Grand Rapids’s Harmony Brewing is expanding. The addition of a second kitchen and an indoor/outdoor beer garden has more than doubled the brew pub’s seating capacity at its Eastown location. The new space opens June 13.

harmony

“We will be able to welcome more people to Harmony,” co-owner Heather VanDyke-Titus said. “We’ve prioritized nice big tables. People will know if they want to come with a big group on a Friday, there will be room.”

The expansion will center Harmony Brewing at the “pinnacle of Eastown,” on the corner of Wealthy Street and Lake Drive. The new space promises to maintain the character people have loved about the original Harmony.

“We’re still working within the fabric of what was already there,” Barry VanDyke said. “What people love about that coziness of that side of town–it’s still going to feel that way.”

The expansion also comes with a new feature: pizza and beer delivery. Harmony Brewing will start delivering their wood-fired pizzas, craft beer and retail merchandise this June.

Alcohol delivery has become increasingly popular in recent years. Drizly, an alcohol e-commerce platform, started delivering beer, wine and liquor in select cities in 2012. A variety of Chicago craft breweries started delivering growlers in 2016. More recently, major pizza companies like Pizza Hut and Papa Johns have experimented with delivering alcohol with their pizzas.

But Harmony Brewing is unique in delivering its own craft beer alongside its signature wood-fired pizza.

Delivery will be first available to the neighborhoods surrounding Harmony Brewing, including East Grand Rapids, Eastown and Downtown Grand Rapids.

“We’re going to start fairly small with our delivery footprint until we get our wheels underneath us, so to speak, then we’ll hopefully be expanding from there,” co-owner Barry VanDyke said.

Customers will be able to order pizza, beer and merchandise over the phone and online through Harmony’s new website. Each order must simply meet a $20 minimum. Payment will only be accepted in the form of credit or debit cards and can be processed online or in person.

Harmony Brewing delivery drivers will be equipped with an app to check IDs. During the transaction, the driver will take a photo of the customer’s ID, and the app will store it with the driver’s name and the date and location of the delivery.

“This is a way to bring your whole Harmony experience to your door,” Barry VanDyke said. “Seeking Harmony? Have it delivered.”

When you hear that brewing is a family affair at Eastown’s Harmony Brewing Company, you can’t help but wonder if there isn’t some family feuding involved too. Brothers Jackson and Barry VanDyke make the beer there, and how many brothers can merely exist together, not to say work together, without some friction?

Apparently these two can. Sitting next to each other, talking about their beer and their business, they are the epitome of, well, harmony.

Fraternity means fairness, says Barry. Half the recipes on the tap board are his, half are Jackson’s. The labor of owning and running the business is shared evenly too. This allows them to swap duties and work shifts now in Harmony’s second year, but in its first year, when they both had to work all the time, it allowed them to share the psychological burdens of the job, the stress of a fledgling business. Barry still remembers those late nights that ended with them “falling asleep in the booth trying to talk to each other.”

One of the duties that doesn’t keep them up at night any more is the brewing itself — that is, the physical work of beer-making, the boiling, fermenting, kegging, etc. This falls to Benjamin Isbell, Harmony’s barback-turned-brewery manager. “We quickly saw that Ben had the brain for it,” says Jackson, and they worked to hand those duties off to him.

Isbell is a perfect fit for the position. He’s a hyper-local brewer for a hyper-local brewpub — he can see his own driveway from Harmony’s offices — and he’s someone the VanDykes trust.

That trust is essential. It’s the first thing both he and the VanDykes mention when asked about his role. The VanDyke name is on the line for a product that Isbell makes, and Isbell acknowledges that for such a young business, “every little detail could mean failure — or success.”

Isbell makes sure those details translate to success. His method is simple: “They tell me what they want to happen and I make it happen.”

With Isbell manning the equipment, making things happen at the end of the process, Jackson and Barry can work more freely on the initial, creative stages. They now have time to “do a lot of critical thinking,” says Jackson, and that means they have more time to think up the kind of experiments central to their brand.

Harmony has “the funky stuff,” admits Barry, alluding to beers like the Black Squirrel (a porter brewed with a “peated” malt) and the Star Stuff Belgian Dubbel (brewed with bona fide meteorite dust). “We want to be idiosyncratic,” echoes Jackson.

“Funky” fits a brewery like Harmony, first because it aims to serve the quirky clientele of its Eastown neighborhood, and second because it doesn’t aim to bottle and distribute its beer. Its beers don’t have to rely on mass appeal.

And yet Harmony appeals to a crowd massive enough that its booths and church pews are usually full. Some of their funkier beers, like the love-it-or-hate-it Black Squirrel, might start a few arguments — “which is awesome,” says Jackson — but their tap list is broad and balanced enough for everyone to find at least a few new favorites.

GRAND RAPIDS — It’s no surprise that Barry and Jackson VanDyke are good brewers — they know a thing or two about taking raw materials and turning them into something great.

Before opening their own brewery with their sister Heather VanDyke-Titus, the VanDyke brothers were real estate developers. They renovated several buildings that now house well-known Grand Rapids establishments, including the Meanwhile, the Electric Cheetah and Brick Road Pizza Co.

Now they’ve renovated a space of their own.

Harmony Brewing Company is unique among Grand Rapids microbreweries in that it doesn’t feel like a bar. Though small, it’s airy and open, and you can usually hear yourself speak. The VanDyke brothers wanted to create a family-friendly atmosphere that could serve as a neighborhood pub.  “We’re very intentional about making everyone comfortable,” says Jackson.

That includes Eastown hipsters as well the East Grand Rapids affluent.

Because Harmony is a neighborhood establishment and not a distribution brewery, the VanDyke brothers feel free to experiment. They can put 200 gallons of a certain beer on tap, Barry explains, without worrying about replicating it next month or maintaining a consistent brand. The experimentation has led to some provocative but popular brews, most notably the Black Squirrel, which tastes like a campfire.

It’s worth noting that Harmony is one of our favorite small breweries. It’s got a relaxing vibe but galvanizing beers — a contrast, to be sure, but somehow it all works out. They don’t call it Harmony for nothing.

Here’s what you can expect on a visit to Harmony Brewing:

Brews. An experimental but well-balanced tap list starts on the hoppy side with the Fiddle Stix IPA and runs all the way to the smoky Black Squirrel and the Albius Vanilla Porter. A favorite for this summer is the Cavendish, aged in a cherry bitters barrel and boasting an aroma like that of a good pipe.

Fare. Harmony’s nearly Neopolitan pizzas are some of the best in town; each is made from top-notch ingredients. Standouts include the Good Earth (spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, Jarlsberg cheese, balsamic and fresh basil) and the Crispy Pig (pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, mozzarella and basil).

Prices. Most pints are $4, while pitchers are $12. Pizzas run from $10.99 to $14.99 and feed one very hungry person or two moderately hungry people. A build-your-own pizza option starts at $7.99, with bar snacks starting at $2.99.

Atmosphere. The space is bright, airy and relaxed with something of a coffeehouse vibe. The natural light and wooden elements make the place feel modern, as does the wall of Mason jars that take the place of the more traditional steins for mug club members.

Specials. Mondays: All day happy hour. Tuesday–Friday: Happy hour from 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays: $5 cheese pizzas and $6 pepperoni pizzas. Wednesdays: Mug club discounts and $1 off signature cocktails. Thursdays: $10 pitchers after 9:00 p.m. Sundays: $2.50 well drinks.

Location: 1551 Lake Dr. SE in Grand Rapids, right between Eastown and East Grand Rapids.


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