li grand zombi

The concept will feature a rotating selection of Creole inspired dishes


Grand Rapids, Mich.  — City Built Brewing Company has announced a Creole-inspired alter ego, Li Grand Zombi, named for the sacred serpent spirit worshipped among voodooists. The takeout/delivery pop-up restaurant is part play on the ghost kitchen trend, part embrace of Louisiana style of cooking where West African, French, Spanish and Haitian influences meet.

“One of our taglines is ‘Where Cultures Collide,’”City Built CEO Ed Collazo said. “This is another opportunity to highlight a different culture whose cuisine we enjoy.”

After spending time eating his way across New Orleans and absorbing techniques, City Built head chef Kyle Murray returned eager to reinterpret what he’d tasted. Those ever wowed by a City Built taco can anticipate the same standard of perfection. Li Grand Zombi’s menu will focus on quality before quantity featuring just one item at a time that rotates on a weekly basis.

li grand zombieFirst up is the delectable house-made and house-smoked spicy andouille sausage served with red beans and rice. Accoutrements include house-made cornbread with a serrano-garlic honey butter and a side of fried okra.

Foodies can expect other Creole classics like jambalaya, gumbo, po boys and more. While the concept is certainly a pivot from City Built’s Puerto Rican fare, Collazo sees a throughline between the two cuisines.

“The story’s the same: you have a marginalized group of people that have made the most of what’s available to them. White rice and beans are pretty cheap but they spice it up to make something really simple really grand,” Collazo said.

Thursday through Saturday, Li Grand Zombi will be available for takeout and through Uber Eats, GrubHub and DoorDash. For those ordering in, it’s a way to experience what’s coming out of the City Built kitchen from the comfort of home. Those who make it down to Monroe Avenue can look forward to “Social Zones” with beer, a food cart, yard games and barrels to hang around—a pandemic proof party.

Li Grand Zombi aims to bring The Big Easy’s energy to Grand Rapids.

“We’re excited to take advantage of this opportunity to do something different and fun,” Collazo said.


About City Built Brewing Company 

Cities are where cultures collide. Ideas get remixed. Societal shifts start. Old traditions combine and become new trends. City Built Brewing Company strives to reflect that energy in their innovative beer recipes and methods, and in their Puerto Rican inspired food served in their downtown Grand Rapids taproom. Visit them and learn how they make the strange familiar, and the familiar fresh and bold. Follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter.

The first beer’s debut coincides with the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Feb. 22 Winter Beer Festival


Grand Rapids, Mich. — The Fibonacci Sequence is a simple equation—the next number in the series is found by adding the two numbers before it—but strangely, from the lowliest acorn to the arms of the Milky Way galaxy, the sequence reveals itself throughout all of nature’s design.

It is also the inspiration for a new series of pastry stouts from Grand Rapids’s City Built Brewing Company, the first of which will be released Feb. 22.

When City Built Brewing Company came up with an idea to test the effects of the sequence on beer, divine providence would show how the sequence applied. Adjusting the boil times from three hours to five hours, to 13 hours and finally 21 hours produced interesting results on each stout.

The first beer in The Fibonacci Sequence, 3 Hour Stout, is a 10.5% ABV imperial stout. It will be available on draft and in cans at $20 per four pack starting Feb. 22. Smooth as velvet, with notes of caramel and coffee, the base stout is perfect without adjuncts involved.

city built

“The number three is often associated with completion or perfection,” said Ed Collazo, CEO of City Built Brewing Company. “When we see the number three, it is a reminder from the universe of our creative potential and our innately divine nature.”

As the series progresses, so does the ABV. The 5 Hour Stout with coconut and vanilla hits at 13.5% and the 21 Hour Stout at 19%. Though unannounced, Collazo hinted at coveted barrel-aged versions of these beers down the line as well.

For the art, City Built tapped Kyle DeGroff, a Grand Rapids-based artist and muralist, who helped inspire the concept for the series. His celestial, colorful and psychedelic designs look like Tool album covers come to life.

3 Hour Stout’s Feb. 22 release date coincides with City Built’s Base Camp Beer & Breakfast Buffet, a prelude to the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Festival. A $25 ticket covers entrance to the event, a Teku logo glass, your first drink, the buffet and first access to purchase cans. Snow on Monroe, a 6% sour wheat with blackberry and black currants, will also be available for purchase at $15 per four pack.

“I’m excited because we’ve wanted to do pastry stouts since we opened and this is our first go at it,” Collazo said. “These are beers that I like to drink and share with friends. I think our personality is really coming through in the art and beer we’re putting out.”


About City Built Brewing Company 

Cities are where cultures collide. Ideas get remixed. Societal shifts start. Old traditions combine and become new trends. City Built Brewing Company strives to reflect that energy in their innovative beer recipes and methods, and in their Puerto Rican inspired food served in their downtown Grand Rapids taproom. Visit them and learn how they make the strange familiar, and the familiar fresh and bold.

beer city pro-am

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.  — The Beer City Brewer’s Guild is hosting the second annual Beer City Pro-Am, a competition that pairs local award-winning homebrewers with microbreweries to create unique recipes to be brewed and shared with the public.

This year’s event brings together 25 of the area’s best homebrewers with Grand Rapids microbreweries. Qualifying homebrewers were selected from the winners of local homebrewing competitions.

“It’s a good chance to connect the homebrewing community and the craft brewing community, because there’s a lot of commonality there,” said Nick Rodammer, co-founder of the event and Pro-Am Committee chair. “It’s also a good chance for local homebrewers to get a little bit of exposure for the quality of the beer they are making.”

Entries will be tapped in participating microbreweries’ taprooms for public enjoyment starting July 30 through August 3.

“I think we have a lot of really interesting releases this year,” Rodammer said. Lagers, ales and a variety of fruit-infused styles make the list, which can be found on the Beer City Brewer’s Guild website.

The beers will be judged by a panel of local, qualified judges based on aroma, appearance, flavor and mouthfeel. The winner will be announced at the Beer City Brewer’s Guild’s annual summer picnic on August 11.

Competing brews will also appear in two tap takeovers. Horrocks Market Tavern will have five Pro-Am entries on tap on August 3 from 5-8 p.m. Logan’s Alley will have 18 of the collaborations on tap from August 10-13, including last year’s winning entry from City Built Brewing Company and homebrewer Paul Arends: Monroe Weiss.

City Built Brewing Company had only recently opened its doors when its collaboration with Arends won last year’s competition. Edwin Collazo, co-founder of City Built Brewing Company, said he was still very involved with the Grand Rapids homebrewing community at the time. Collazo said he can see how maintaining a connection with local homebrewers can benefit the larger brewing community.

beer city pro-am

“How much better will our beer get and how much more innovative will our breweries continue to be because we’re brewing with people who are doing five-gallon batches, reading Zymurgy and other homebrew magazines,” Callazzo said. “[Homebrewers are] super passionate about they do too, so I think the chance to collaborate with them is a great thing for Beer City as a whole.”

And because the Pro-Am competition pairs the best of the best with the professionals, team members have plenty of knowledge to offer.

“It’s truly a collaboration. We really learn from each other,” Rodammer said.

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