brewers grove

Tree Beer Release kicks off on Feb. 15

Grand Rapids, Mich. — From Feb. 15-Mar. 15, many of your favorite Grand Rapids breweries will be serving tree-themed beers to support increasing the city’s urban forest and tree canopy. Brewers Grove is an annual collaboration between Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and Beer City Brewers Guild that raises funds for a tree planting and tree-beer party in the fall.

Participating breweries, distilleries and cider houses have created tree-themed beers to sell during Experience GR’s Beer Month GR. When the month wraps up, they’ll make a donation to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, a nonprofit organization working to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks, green spaces and trees in the city.

The funds raised from tree beer sales will be used for a community tree planting and tree-beer party where the public can chat with brewers, plant trees and enjoy music and yard games. The trees planted will improve tree diversity in the city, provide a source of food to wildlife and park users and replace removed ash trees lost due to the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic.

“Everyone can agree that we need great green spaces and parks and that planting trees is a good thing,” said Jackson VanDyke, president of Beer City Brewers Guild. “Planting trees is also a concrete way that we can all participate in giving back to our city and the citizens who support us.”

Tree Beer Month will kick off with a celebration at Harmony Hall on Feb. 15.

brewers groveThroughout the month, fans will be able to find tree beer at 26 participating brewers. Harmony Brewing Company will offer DePeach Mode: Peach Gose a traditional Gose brewed with coriander and salt, and fermented on fresh peaches. Brewery Vivant’s feature is Nordhouse IPA brewed with juniper berries, MI-grown Chinook hops, and their farmhouse yeast. It is made in homage to the sprawling juniper trees in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Elk Brewing will offer Black Trumpet Ale brewed with wild harvested mushrooms that mainly grow on Beech, Oak or other broad leaved trees. Black Trumpet mushrooms tend to leech a blackish color and will give a nice earthiness to the beer.

Brewers Grove started in 2013 when local brewers with the Beer City Brewers Guild asked Friends of Grand Rapids Parks how they could give back to parks and public spaces. Since its inception, 159 trees have been planted and over $30,000 have been raised for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

The event helps the City of Grand Rapids get closer to its goal of 40 percent tree cover, adopted in 2011 Green Grand Rapids plan on the recommendation of the City’s Urban Forestry Committee.

“In addition to helping achieve the City’s tree canopy goal, we also want to increase the city’s tree canopy because of all the health, economic, safety and energy benefits trees bring to our community,” said Tori Power, development coordinator at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

Learn all about Brewers Grove on the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks website.

About Beer City Brewers Guild

As a group of greater Grand Rapids area brewers, in collaboration with beer-centric businesses, the Beer City Brewers Guild works to celebrate, promote and raise awareness of the craft brewing culture in the Grand Rapids community. The nonprofit guild was founded in 2016 to function as a vehicle for collaborations, charitable giving and knowledge sharing around the subject of craft brewing.

About Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is an independent, citizen led, nonprofit organization founded in 2008, working closely with but separate from the City of Grand Rapids. Their mission is to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks, trees and green spaces in the Grand Rapids community. The organization envisions thriving parks and a sustainable urban forest that actively supports the community’s economic, environmental and cultural health.

GRAND RAPIDS — Collaborating for the third year in a row, Grand Rapids area breweries and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks are teaming up once again to raise money for The Brewers Grove Fund. A project created to maximize the tree canopy within the city. Translation: More trees to enjoy savoring our craft beer under! This beer is amazing.

Starting Monday, Aug. 31, stop into any of the participating Grand Rapids area breweries* to order a tree-inspired craft beer, like a Bourbon Barrel Oak Aged Tree Bucket Belgian-Inspired Double IPA from Brewery Vivant, and a portion of the sales will support plantings and expand The Brewers Grove concept started at Riverside Park in 2013, where brewers planted 30 trees with the money raised, and another impressive 75 trees in 2014.

Because of the success of the last two years, the Grand Rapids area brewers have found that Riverside Park’s tree canopy is nearly full, therefore, The Brewers Grove will be expanding to other city parks and public green spaces. This year, local brewers will assist in finishing up plantings in Riverside Park and expand into Covell Dog Park in October.

“Trees are crucial to our community, and advocating and supporting our urban forest is a footprint we leave for future generations to come,” said Margaret Studer, Urban Forest Project Coordinator. “I can’t think of a better way to advocate for forestry than with a mug of tree beer! I think it is safe to say that local beer lovers will enjoy the tastes and complexities of tree beer all the more knowing that is going to a good cause.”

The tree beers will be tapped city-wide Monday, Aug 31. A Kick-Off Tree Beer Tap Takeover event will be held at Harmony Brewing Co. on Monday, with a toast at 5:00 p.m. Several tree beers will be featured on tap. In addition to Harmony’s Jubilation Cherry Saison IPA, Jaden James Silver Maple Lager, with notes of maple from freshly tapped maple trees, Pike 51 will offer a 100% Michigan Hopped Saison aged in Red Wine Barrels. Schmohz tap will pour a Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale Wee Heavy, White Flame will put a twist on a Black-IPA Cider hybrid, and The Peoples Cider Co. will be offering a Cherry-infused Cider.

“We want to be a benefit to the community that is incredibly supportive of us and our industry,” said Jackson VanDyke, co-owner of Harmony Brewing. “This is a great way for the breweries to collaborate and do something positive for our city.”

Another tree beer tap-takeover will take place on Friday, Sept. 4 at 57 Brew Pub & Bistro in Greenville featuring their Cherry Houdini, a Cherry Vanilla Porter, along with a Cedar-Aged Pale Ale from Gravel Bottom, Pike 51’s Bon Belle Saison and Rockford Brewing’s Peach Pit Peach Brown, brewed with local peaches and nectarines grown and harvested at Homrich’s Under the Pines family farm. Head Brewer Tom Payne will be donating a flat rate based on sales, plus rounding up to an even amount.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks will also host a Brewers Grove Planting and Party on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Riverside Park. Beer lovers are invited to the park to get their hands dirty, plant a tree, and chat with the brewers while enjoying live music from two local bands. Enthusiasts are encouraged to stop by a Grand Rapids area brewery to fill a growler with their favorite tree beer or cider to enjoy at the event, as an open-container permit will be in place at the park. More details will come in mid-September.

Find the latest information as well as a Tree Beer Map at

*Participating Breweries and Corresponding Tree Themed Beer:

57 Brew Pub
Cherry Houdini, ABV 5.5%
Cherry Vanilla Porter

B.O.B.’s Brewery
Tangerine Trees, ABV 6.0%
Belgian Wit with citrus fruits and candy.

Brewery Vivant
Devastation, ABV 9.3%
Bourbon Barrel Oak Aged Tree Bucket Belgian Inspired Double IPA.

The Cellar
Apple of your Rye, ABV 4.5%
Fruited Rye Beer.

Cheery O’Dark Cherry Wheat Ale, ABV 5.5%
A light clean crisp wheat ale with an organic cherry finish.

EB Coffee & Pub
Fuzzy Nuts, ABV 6.8%
Coconut Porter

Willow ESB, ABV 6.4%
Extra Special / Strong Bitter

Grand Rapids Brewing Company
Coconut Kaiser Chocolate Macaroon, ABV 5.8%
Dunkelweiss with Roasted Coconut and Chocolate.

Gravel Bottom
Cederino, ABV 7.1%
Cedar aged Pale Ale

Harmony Brewing Company
Jubilation Cherry Saison IPA, ABV 7.1%
Brewed with Summit and Hull Melon hops with sour cherries added during fermentation.

Naughty Nicodemus, ABV 4.7%
Gruit beer with lime, juniper berry and cucumber.

Jaden James
Silver Maple Lager, ABV 5.5%
Notes of maple from freshly tapped maple trees.

The Mitten Brewing Company
Olut Kaupunki Saht (Beer City Sahti), ABV 6.1%
Finnish Sahti made with juniper berries

Peoples Cider
Cherry Adams Tart, ABV 7.4%
Cherry-infused Cider

Pike 51
Bon Belle Saison, ABV 5.8%
100% Michigan Hopped Saison aged in Red Wine Barrels

Railtown Brewing
Dutch Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, ABV 8%
Imperial Porter with a full, creamy body.

Rockford Brewing Company
Peach Pit Peach Brown, ABV 4.8%
Brewed with local peaches and nectarines grown and harvested at Homrich’s Under the Pines family farm.

Barrel Aged Kiss My Scottish Arse ABV 9.3%
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

White Flame
Bad Apple, ABV 7%
Black IPA Cider hybrid with a rich roasted black pour and a crisp apple finish.

GRAND RAPIDS — It’s the time of year for the second annual Brewers Grove event. I’ve had the chance to try four of the 24 tree beers at the Brewers Grove kickoff party, held Friday at Harmony Brewing Company.

All of these beers, in addition to the 20 others available, will be on tap at participating breweries through Sept. 12. All of the beers have some sort of interpretation around the idea of trees, with each brewery using its own creativeness to work this idea into a beer.

Harmony Brewing Sumac Attack, 5.5% ABV

A cloudy brew sits before me that looks just like apple cider. Hints of ruby red highlights appear among the dark amber liquid. It has a creamy mouthfeel, but with an excellent acidic tang throughout. This finishes bright and slightly tart.

I detect subtle notes of lemon zest, clove, and a vegetal character in the flavor. Banana notes that are in the background and latch onto that creamy mouthfeel, enhancing each other. The malt character is overpowered by the acidic tang, but does still come through as subtle bread notes.

In the nose this beer comes to me as pear and apple with just a little dab of bread forward malt.

White Flame Nut Job, 5.5% ABV

A pitch black beer with a tan head. Upon tasting, I detect a thin body and overall mouthfeel. It feels perhaps thinner than one would expect from such a robust looking brew. In the nose I smell burnt grain/toast and this carries into the flavor as well. I’m also detecting a slight nuttiness — perhaps walnuts — right before the finish.

Despite the foreboding appearance, this beer is extremely sessionable, though pretty one-dimensional. A more diversified grain bill might have given this beer a bit more complexity. Giving it a slight creamy character and playing more on the nuttiness of it would be to their advantage. Despite the fact that it is playing on one note, that feature would make it a pretty good pairing with french vanilla ice cream. It would add that roasted quality but wouldn’t overpower the somewhat delicate nature of the vanilla and would instead allow it to shine through.

Brewery Vivant Devastation: Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Style DIPA, 9.3% ABV

A very slight haziness in the beer and white head sit on top of the burnished gold to light amber colored liquid. The flavor includes exceptionally strong notes of bourbon with a bit of vanilla. The light spice character is reminiscent of clove. In the aroma I detect mango and very ripe peach, along with strong vanilla and a punch of Bourbon.

The brew drinks quite hot and has medium-high carbonation levels. The sweet and boozy character sticks to the roof of the mouth. In the finish I get that strike of hot booziness as well as a hint of dark cherry while the vanilla lingers.

Gravel Bottom Cedarino: Cedar Pale Ale, 7.1% ABV

The beer has dropped very bright and is a perfect light amber/honey brown color. There are subtle notes of sweet cedar, honey and bread on the nose and an almost rye grain-like spicy character that moves all the way into the finish.

I have confirmed with the brewer that there is in fact no rye in the grain bill, but the way the America hop varieties and the Spanish cedar interact it causes a spicy and biting character (similar to rye) for my tongue.

Both the hops and the cedar are working well together to create new flavors. I applaud the close attention the brewer paid to this interaction because it’s not easy to do. The mouthfeel is also smooth and silky all the way until the medium dryness in the finish. Besides the cedar, I detect resin, pine-forward American hops and granola in the flavor, but it’s more cedar-like and hop forward in the nose. Overall this is well balanced and is just begging to be paired with food.

GRAND RAPIDS — The Brewers Grove Project kicked off its second consecutive year at Harmony Brewing Company Friday night. Tree-themed beers from different West Michigan area breweries will be available at their locales and different area bars and pubs.

The evening started with a toast from the Heather and Jackson Van Dyke — owners of Harmony — and Steve Faber — Executive Director at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, an independent, citizen led nonprofit whose mission is to work on specific park projects, mobilize the community and generate resources to enhance and expand Grand Rapids’ parks and public spaces.

Local politicians, brewers and craft beer aficionados were in attendance to sample four of the different offerings. Harmony’s Sumac Attack — a Hefeweizen — Pike 51’s Maple Almond Belgian Brown Ale, White Flame’s Nut Job — a Black Walnut Ale — and Cellar’s Apple Ridge IPA were all on tap for tasting and pints.

The Brewers Grove initiative works specifically with the Urban Forest Project, supporting Grand Rapids goal of a 40% tree canopy. Area brewers are giving back, supporting parks and public spaces by creating tree-themed beers, with one dollar from each pint going directly to the Brewers Grove Fund. This fund helps to expand the Riverside Park tree canopy and will add additional trees to the thirty planted last year.

It’s a pretty easy thing to do [make a tree themed beer], and there are lots of ways to spin it — everything from oak aged to fruits and nuts, and all kinds of things. Now we have 21 different breweries making different beers,” says Steve Faber.

This event will continue until Sept. 12th. Support your local brewery and Beer City USA by grabbing a pint or helping with other Urban Forest projects. More information is available on the Beer City USA website.

Benjamin Isbell and Josh Chilcote of Harmony Brewing Company start the brewing of the brewery’s tree-themed beer, Sumac Attack.

For the second year, Grand Rapids breweries will join together, creating a tree-themed beer for the Brewer’s Grove project. The project, in collaboration with Team Beer City and the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks organizations, helped to plant 30 trees last year in Riverside Park. This year, a tree planting party is slated for Sept. 12.

GRAND RAPIDS — When one thinks of trees and beers, the barrel aging process might come to mind. Or, perhaps the hop growing community. What you wouldn’t immediately think of is 18 breweries teaming up to plant several trees throughout a community.

But that’s just what’s underway in the Greater Grand Rapids area.

Members of the Grand Rapids Society of Beer (GRSOB) have teamed up to produce tree-themed beers, different for each brewery, but all with the same goal — to raise money for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

“I think it’s really a good opportunity for us to give back to the community,” said Bob Bonga, owner of Jaden James Brewery.

Bonga’s Little Full Lota Sap (6.4% ABV) — a play on the famous Christmas classic, “Christmas Vacation” — is an ale with hints of pine and citrus. Featuring a moderate amount of bitterness, this ale has some IPA-like qualities, but is produced for the masses.

“We’ve been doing almost all of the collaborations that the Society of Beers have done,” said Bonga. “It’s fun, it adds a really nice, friendly challenge amongst the group.”

Larger breweries have gotten into the game too — including Founders, Brewery Vivant and Perrin. Vivant’s Whiskey Rooster (6.3%) takes its recipe in a different direction, aging its Big Red Coq brew in Jack Daniel’s barrels. A subtle fruit flavor is met with whiskey throughout each sip, providing for a much fuller bodied brew, but still keeping a respectable ABV level.

Up and coming Harmony Brewing Company out of Eastown held the kickoff for the collaboration on Aug. 5, and debut its Dryad Brewers Grove (4.4%). A lower ABV offering from the collaboration, Dryad is a dry ale brewed with Linden Tree flowers from Wilcox Park.

Some of the participating breweries donated $1 from each tree-themed beer sold during the week of Aug. 4-10 to produce a Brewers Grove in Grand Rapids. Other breweries will donate by hosting parties to benefit the cause.

The first Brewers Grove planting will take place Oct. 17 at Riverside Park.

The collaboration between trees and beers stems from Grand Rapids being named BeerCity USA for the second year in a row, and being named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 15th year in a row.

Chris Epplett contributed to this report.