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GRAND RAPIDS — When a brewery owner and his brewmaster are on the same page, magical things happen. Just ask Jacob Derylo, brewmaster at Brewery Vivant.

Saturday, the brewpub hosted its first-ever Wood-Aged Beer Celebration. Drawing in an estimated 500 beer drinkers, more than 2,250 six-ounce cups of wood-aged and sour beers were served during the 8-hour outdoors event.

“It’s kind of fun to get back to the small-time, artisanal brewing,” Derylo said. “I credit (owner) Jason (Spaulding) for that. I appreciate his trust in me.”

Altogether 11 brews — each fitting Vivant’s Belgian/French-influenced flavor profile — were tapped during the event, including:

  • Farm Gris
  • Angelilah
  • Barrel Aged Triomphe
  • Barrel Aged Sgt. Peppercorn
  • Barrel Aged Solitude
  • Barrel Aged Brune
  • Barrel Aged Rye Porter
  • Barrel Aged Raz-Rye Porter
  • Barrel Aged Sour Zaison
  • Cassandra Rose
  • Barrel Aged Brune Firkin

The sours, a much-anticipated favorite, are purposely spiked with healthy bacteria to give the brew a slightly tart flavor. Some of the beers had been aging for just a few weeks, while others spent two or three months maturing.

“We’re just trying to get some wood-aged beer out there,” Derylo said. “To focus just on wood-aged and sour-aged beer is pretty time consuming.”

Because Vivant limits itself as a 5,000-barrel brewery, Derylo said he has the ability to concentrate on aged and sour beers, which is “where (his) heart is.”

“Fortunately enough, I have an owner who lets me do this stuff,” he said. “We’re going to have our mainstays, but I want to focus on sour beers. We do those well.”

For Vivant, Saturday was just one event surrounding the wood-aged and sour theme — something the brewery aims to be known for, according to Derylo.

“We’re at the right time in the beer culture where we can educate,” he said. “Wood-aged beer is a cool thing right now. I’m having a great time.”

“We want to be known as the wood-aged, sour beer brewery in Grand Rapids. The fact that all these people are here just for wood-aged beer is very encouraging.”

MittenBrew sampled eight of Saturday’s brews, a review of six of those brews is available here. Manager Rick Muschiana said a few barrels are leftover from Saturday, which Vivant will be tapping throughout the course of the next few weeks. Currently, Farm Gris — a drier version of its Farm Hand mixed with six percent Pinot Gris — is available at the brewpub, which is located on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side at 925 Cherry Street SE.

 

 

 

GRAND RAPIDS — When a brewery owner and his brewmaster are on the same page, magical things happen. Just ask Jacob Derylo, brewmaster at Brewery Vivant.
Saturday, the brewpub hosted its first-ever Wood-Aged Beer Celebration. Drawing in an estimated 500 beer drinkers, more than 2,250 six-ounce cups of wood-aged and sour beers were served during the 8-hour outdoors event.
“It’s kind of fun to get back to the small-time, artisanal brewing,” Derylo said. “I credit (owner) Jason (Spaulding) for that. I appreciate his trust in me.”
Altogether 11 brews — each fitting Vivant’s Belgian/French-influenced flavor profile — were tapped during the event, including:

  • Farm Gris
  • Angelilah
  • Barrel Aged Triomphe
  • Barrel Aged Sgt. Peppercorn
  • Barrel Aged Solitude
  • Barrel Aged Brune
  • Barrel Aged Rye Porter
  • Barrel Aged Raz-Rye Porter
  • Barrel Aged Sour Zaison
  • Cassandra Rose
  • Barrel Aged Brune Firkin

The sours, a much-anticipated favorite, are purposely spiked with healthy bacteria to give the brew a slightly tart flavor. Some of the beers had been aging for just a few weeks, while others spent two or three months maturing.
“We’re just trying to get some wood-aged beer out there,” Derylo said. “To focus just on wood-aged and sour-aged beer is pretty time consuming.”
Because Vivant limits itself as a 5,000-barrel brewery, Derylo said he has the ability to concentrate on aged and sour beers, which is “where (his) heart is.”
“Fortunately enough, I have an owner who lets me do this stuff,” he said. “We’re going to have our mainstays, but I want to focus on sour beers. We do those well.”
For Vivant, Saturday was just one event surrounding the wood-aged and sour theme — something the brewery aims to be known for, according to Derylo.
“We’re at the right time in the beer culture where we can educate,” he said. “Wood-aged beer is a cool thing right now. I’m having a great time.”
“We want to be known as the wood-aged, sour beer brewery in Grand Rapids. The fact that all these people are here just for wood-aged beer is very encouraging.”
MittenBrew sampled eight of Saturday’s brews, a review of six of those brews is available here. Manager Rick Muschiana said a few barrels are leftover from Saturday, which Vivant will be tapping throughout the course of the next few weeks. Currently, Farm Gris — a drier version of its Farm Hand mixed with six percent Pinot Gris — is available at the brewpub, which is located on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side at 925 Cherry Street SE.
 
 
 

I imagine — based on his story — Jason Spaulding as the character Ray Stantz from Ghostbusters.

In one of the film’s early scenes, the three ghost-hunting entrepreneurs purchase a former firehouse for their headquarters. Two of them play it coy, but not Stantz.

Admittedly, Spaulding was smitten when he first walked through a rundown funeral chapel on the Southeast Side of Grand Rapids that would become the future home of his brewpub, Brewery Vivant. And certainly from my visit, I can see why Spaulding chose the location for his brewery, which opened in December 2010.

I had a sense of awe walking into this European-feeling brewpub, as likely many of its patrons do. With original chapel lighting and stained glass windows, stepping inside Vivant is a lot like visiting a Belgian monastery (except for the monks). Wooden beams meet in a triangular formation near the ceiling with the bar nestled in front of a large archway.

Even though it is no longer a sacred space, it is still communal. The U-shaped bar lends itself to conversation with fellow patrons, and long tables create an atmosphere of sharing, not separation. There is a TV, but even that is not run by normal electricity — a bike nearby powers the screen (peddle away).

Certainly, it is peaceful for a pub and the ambiance complements the beer style – Belgian- and French-influenced concoctions. As Spaulding said, Vivant is one of the only breweries that specializes in Belgian beers with “local ingredients dominated by yeast strains” and a “controlled, wild character.”

The brews are inspired from small farmhouse breweries along the countryside of Southern Belgium and Northern France, Spaulding explained. Certainly it is apparent in the ten brews on tap.

To make it all come to life, brewmaster Jacob Derylo takes special care to ensure each brew is crafted to perfection.

“He’s a perfect brewer for us,” Spaulding said. “There’s no one I’d rather have in there than Jacob.”

A 10-year brewer for New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, Derylo confers with chef Drew Turnipseed to pair entrees perfectly with each beer. If not for the food or beer, Brewery Vivant is worth the visit just by virtue of its tastefully renovated, 80-something-year-old pub. It brings a sense of awe that makes you want to say cheers to its architectural beauty.

Even so, if you can’t make the trip, the brewery recently launched packaged products — in cans — for distribution state-wide and to the greater Chicago area. If you do make it, here’s my take on the tapped brews:

Farm Hand (5.5-percent ABV) — Partly cloudy, it’s lighter in overall flavor and certain to please even the most-apprehensive craft beer skeptics with simple smell and taste.

French Fusion (5.5-percent ABV) — A very drinkable, crisp beer with a soft maltiness that really does some magic.

Zaison (8.5-percent ABV) — Likely my favorite, its high alcohol content that maintains plenty of flavor is sneaky. Orange hints that are not overpowering with a light mouthfeel and body, the tail-end taste of peppercorn is the perfect complement to the citrus.

Vivant Tripel (9.25-percent ABV) — I’d call this the most traditional Belgian-brew with its sweet banana and bubblegum smell and taste complemented by the creamy mouthfeel.

Triomphe Belgian IPA (6.5-percent ABV) — Sweeter and smoother than I expected, which helps cover up the amount of hops I find overwhelming in many IPAs.

Big Red Coq (6.25-percent ABV) — So many hops, it feels more IPA than Triomphe (I thought I was confusing the two at first). For me, the hops were so overpowering I could barely smell the flavors and certainly could not taste them — caramel, mango, pineapple and citrus. Not my kind of brew, it is a popular seller.

Solitude Belgian Amber Ale (6.5-percent ABV) — Puts the “brew” back into brewing beer with its coffee-like undertones and brownish hue — malty with hints of caramel and sweetness. Unique.

Belgian Black Ale (5.5-percent ABV) — Surprisingly both creamy mouthfeel and light-body, it’s basically a black IPA.

Kludde Strong Ale (9.5-percent ABV) — This brew speaks volumes and earns its right to be called a “strong ale”— prevalent plum, fig, anise and raisin smells/flavors, but a chocolate hint that saves it from being too bitter.

 

I imagine — based on his story — Jason Spaulding as the character Ray Stantz from Ghostbusters.
In one of the film’s early scenes, the three ghost-hunting entrepreneurs purchase a former firehouse for their headquarters. Two of them play it coy, but not Stantz.
Admittedly, Spaulding was smitten when he first walked through a rundown funeral chapel on the Southeast Side of Grand Rapids that would become the future home of his brewpub, Brewery Vivant. And certainly from my visit, I can see why Spaulding chose the location for his brewery, which opened in December 2010.
I had a sense of awe walking into this European-feeling brewpub, as likely many of its patrons do. With original chapel lighting and stained glass windows, stepping inside Vivant is a lot like visiting a Belgian monastery (except for the monks). Wooden beams meet in a triangular formation near the ceiling with the bar nestled in front of a large archway.
Even though it is no longer a sacred space, it is still communal. The U-shaped bar lends itself to conversation with fellow patrons, and long tables create an atmosphere of sharing, not separation. There is a TV, but even that is not run by normal electricity — a bike nearby powers the screen (peddle away).
Certainly, it is peaceful for a pub and the ambiance complements the beer style – Belgian- and French-influenced concoctions. As Spaulding said, Vivant is one of the only breweries that specializes in Belgian beers with “local ingredients dominated by yeast strains” and a “controlled, wild character.”
The brews are inspired from small farmhouse breweries along the countryside of Southern Belgium and Northern France, Spaulding explained. Certainly it is apparent in the ten brews on tap.
To make it all come to life, brewmaster Jacob Derylo takes special care to ensure each brew is crafted to perfection.
“He’s a perfect brewer for us,” Spaulding said. “There’s no one I’d rather have in there than Jacob.”
A 10-year brewer for New Holland Brewing Company in Holland, Derylo confers with chef Drew Turnipseed to pair entrees perfectly with each beer. If not for the food or beer, Brewery Vivant is worth the visit just by virtue of its tastefully renovated, 80-something-year-old pub. It brings a sense of awe that makes you want to say cheers to its architectural beauty.
Even so, if you can’t make the trip, the brewery recently launched packaged products — in cans — for distribution state-wide and to the greater Chicago area. If you do make it, here’s my take on the tapped brews:
Farm Hand (5.5-percent ABV) — Partly cloudy, it’s lighter in overall flavor and certain to please even the most-apprehensive craft beer skeptics with simple smell and taste.
French Fusion (5.5-percent ABV) — A very drinkable, crisp beer with a soft maltiness that really does some magic.
Zaison (8.5-percent ABV) — Likely my favorite, its high alcohol content that maintains plenty of flavor is sneaky. Orange hints that are not overpowering with a light mouthfeel and body, the tail-end taste of peppercorn is the perfect complement to the citrus.
Vivant Tripel (9.25-percent ABV) — I’d call this the most traditional Belgian-brew with its sweet banana and bubblegum smell and taste complemented by the creamy mouthfeel.
Triomphe Belgian IPA (6.5-percent ABV) — Sweeter and smoother than I expected, which helps cover up the amount of hops I find overwhelming in many IPAs.
Big Red Coq (6.25-percent ABV) — So many hops, it feels more IPA than Triomphe (I thought I was confusing the two at first). For me, the hops were so overpowering I could barely smell the flavors and certainly could not taste them — caramel, mango, pineapple and citrus. Not my kind of brew, it is a popular seller.
Solitude Belgian Amber Ale (6.5-percent ABV) — Puts the “brew” back into brewing beer with its coffee-like undertones and brownish hue — malty with hints of caramel and sweetness. Unique.
Belgian Black Ale (5.5-percent ABV) — Surprisingly both creamy mouthfeel and light-body, it’s basically a black IPA.
Kludde Strong Ale (9.5-percent ABV) — This brew speaks volumes and earns its right to be called a “strong ale”— prevalent plum, fig, anise and raisin smells/flavors, but a chocolate hint that saves it from being too bitter.