GRAND RAPIDS, MICH – Back by popular demand, Brewery Vivant to release “Fat Paczki” on Tuesday February 13, 2018 to coincide with Paczki Day and Mardi Gras celebrations. The 8% ABV beer is simply a classic paczki ale— an amber ale brewed with 15lbs of dried prunes and powdered sugar. Prepare for ripened plum and raisin notes, while the confectioner’s sugar adds a sweet backend mouthfeel.

paczki day

This is the third year in a row the brewery has released the celebration beer. When Vivant first brewed Fat Paczki in 2015, it was just a novelty. Head brewer, Jacob Derylo admits it came about as a fun experiment. “We’re here in West Michigan,” He says, “Over half our brewing team has some Polish heritage. We were inspired by the culture and the ingredients locally available. Paczki are everywhere this time of year!” The annual release is now a fan favorite, both on draft and in 16oz pint cans only available at the Pub. The first 100 folks to order a pint at the Pub on February 13 will receive a fresh baked paczki donut from Pastry Chef, Katy Waltz. Doors open at 3pm.

paczki dayAlso on February 13, Brewery Vivant to release it’s highly acclaimed “Love Shadow”, the 12% ABV bourbon barrel aged Imperial stout— just in time for Valentine’s Day. The beer is available on draft and in 16oz pint cans while supplies last. As an additional treat, the brewers and kitchen staff teamed up to brew two exclusive variants of the stout. Pastry chef Katy Waltz made 5 pounds of beignets, the New Orleans French inspired donut and offered them up, along with real raspberry puree, to one of the bourbon barrels holding 53 gallons of Love Shadow. Then sous chef Vanessa Aguilar toasted baking sheets full of shredded coconut to mingle with another barrel of beer. The two versions, Raspberry Beignet Love Shadow and Toasted Coconut Love Shadow will be tapped at 3pm along with the original Love Shadow.

Love Shadow will see limited distribution throughout Michigan on draft and in pint cans in conjunction with the Pub release.

About Brewery Vivant
Brewery Vivant promotes living the good life by brewing farmhouse inspired beer, serving a from-scratch menu and building a sustainable community one beer at a time. The brewery employees around 65 employees and is located in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, in a renovated funeral chapel built in the early 1900s. Husband and wife partners Jason and Kris Spaulding opened the doors for business in December of 2010. Vivant beers are distributed throughout Michigan and Massachusetts. They are the first commercial brewery in the nation to receive Silver LEED Certification from the USGBC. Additionally they are 100% renewably powered, a gold ­level Bicycle Friendly Business, and are a certified B Corporation. Beer the Change®!


brewery vivant

Plein de Vie, when literally translated, means “full of life.” There couldn’t be a more appropriate name to describe this new wood & wild fermentation series of beer from Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids.

MittenBrew had the opportunity to chat with Kate Avery, Abbess of Beer, Brian Kuszynski, Master of Wood, and Jason Spaulding, President and Co-Owner at Brewery Vivant, about this much anticipated series release.

brewery vivant

“We’ve always offered something a little different to the Grand Rapids drinking audience. It’s been a road of education and talking, about flavors and different styles of beer. With Plein de Vie, wood aging and intentionally souring of these beers, it all comes back to that education experience for the consumer,” Avery shares as she shows off the three initial brews in their bottle release.

Indeed, Brewery Vivant is known for doing things a little differently—offering Belgian and French style old-world libation, and allowing their Brewers the opportunity to experiment and create complex, nuanced one-offs that eventually sparked the annual Wood Aged Beer Fest. With a recent expansion, more time and dedicated space to the souring process, they are able to take it to the next level—bottling and offering these taproom favorites on a larger scale and to a wider audience.

If you are familiar with Brewery Vivant, you’ll know that bottling their beer is also something new to their repertoire, but with good reason.

“Cans aren’t meant for letting a beer develop in the package,” Spaulding notes, “These beers especially can be more lively, and bottles simply offer the ability to hold more pressure.”

These are meant to be enjoyed when you are ready to enjoy them. Big, full bodied, unfiltered beers retain their characteristics better in a bottle instead of thin aluminum. Practically speaking, introducing live beer on their main canning line is a no-no. You don’t want to risk introducing wild yeast strains which could affect the taste of their staples. Beyond that, bottling is another way to differentiate this unique series of beer from Vivant mainstays.

Unique also is the packaging. Highly detailed, crisp clean lines with variants in color that reflect the beer each vessel holds. Each label also explains just how each beer was aged and soured. Tap handles in the pub for this series are old barrel staves, wood burned with Vivant’s iconic rooster. Just another way to distinguish Plein de Vie, no matter how you are drinking it.

On Sunday, June 5 at Noon, you will be able to try these three initial offerings:

Angelina – The mother of all Vivant’s sours, if you will, is finally offered in bottles—much to the delight of long time Brewery Vivant fans. The very first sour beer made at the pub, a barrel named Angelina produced something tasty, magical, and sparked the direction of Vivant’s future sour offerings. Inoculating other barrels from this mother to keep the culture going, this pleasant, wood-barrel aged sour retains its majesty for (hopefully) years to come.

Harvest Breed – A brand new brew, this stainless steel brettanomyces wild sour ale offers a big sour punch on the noise, with the bretta coming through as the beer warms to room temperature. Almost citrusy, this sour offers a bergamot, earl gray tea flavor with a hint of lemon pith or orange rind.

Habanango – Many of you may remember this from a previous Wood Aged Beer Fest, but don’t expect the exact same brew. Feeder fermented and barrel-aged, this sour is blended with habanero peppers and mango to give a little heat with the sweet. Strongly mango on the nose, the peppery sweet heat of the habanero creeps up on you, making you want to take that next sip.

With safety and containment always a top priority, we end our tour, complete with booties on our feet, in what’s known as “the Funk Room,” where all the wood aging and wild fermented magic happens. Brian Kuszynski meets us there to share the story of how Plein de Vie came to be.

Carving out this separate space allows the Brewers to finally produce these sours and wild ales without risk of cross contamination, and at a volume that allows for bottling. Thank goodness.

Brian takes us around the crowded Funk Room, lovingly tweaking small things here and there, continuing to work while talking with us as we bask in the woody glory of all things wild.

brewery vivant

A comment remembered from a gentlemen at a previous Wood Aged Beer Fest, asking where he could find this in his home state, put the bug in Brian’s mind to produce these sours at a larger scale.

“Obviously we are passionate about beer, and we’ve always loved wild and sour ales. We’ve had opportunities to make them and packaged them here and there, but always on a really small scale. This gives us the ability to make a larger quantity, get it out there and let the public try it, age it, cellar it. They can share it with their friends, introduce them to something new. Here and out-of-of state, even. We hope to be able to produce beers in this brand at the rate of 2-4 a year. But, of course,the beer tells us when it’s ready.”


Photography: Steph Harding

Brewery_VivantBrewery Vivant, known for its unique Belgian­-American styles of beers, welcomes another GR Beer Week and hoards of craft beer fans to Beer City USA with it’s annual Brewer’s Big Breakfast. The Pub opens its doors early once a year ­­the Saturday of Winter Beer Fest­­ for breakfast. February 27, from 8am to 2pm, the highly anticipated breakfast menu will showcase a breakfast poutine, vegetarian eggs Benedict, house­made crullers and of course, the beer­mosa (Farm Hand spiked with OJ).

The breakfast originally started as a way to fuel the brewers before stepping out into the frigid Michigan temperatures to pour beer at Michigan Brewers Guild’s Winter Beer Fest at 5/3 Ball Park in Comstock Park. The idea caught traction with Executive Chef Christopher Weimer. “I’ve always liked cooking breakfast, and appreciated this style of cuisine. I don’t know that I’d want to subscribe to the lifestyle, or if I could, but once a year it’s fun for us to stretch our chops and step outside our traditional dinner routine.”

The day is fast paced in the kitchen, but guests revel in the unusual circumstance they’re able to find themselves in: enjoying kegs and eggs in the Brewery Vivant chapel. “The atmosphere is jovial and there is a palpable excitement running through guests and our staff as well,” Says Kate Avery, Director of Sales & Marketing, “It’s Winter Beer Fest after all. Even if you don’t have tickets, you still are able to be a part of this thing we call Beer City, USA.”

True to the Vivant spirit, the breakfast is open to all and no reservations are required. The community tables fill up with hungry beer lovers and foodies alike. People coming together over good beer and good food? That’s living the ​bon vivant​.

At 2pm breakfast will conclude, the pub will operate with a limited food menu while the kitchen resets for a 3pm return to regular, full dinner menu service. We’ll be eating and drinking well into the night. The Pub closes at midnight on Saturday.

GRAND RAPIDS – The 5th Annual Wood Aged Beer Fest (WABF) at Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids has come and gone. Friends, if you weren’t able to attend one of the two sessions on Saturday September 19th, I’m really, very sorry.

The ease and astute organizational flow of this beer festival have only improved since the first barrel-aged brew was poured.

“Having done this for five years, every year has been different,” said Brewery Vivant Owner Jason Spaulding. “We try to learn as we go, and focus in on a few things. We were in the street last year, and it seemed more of a street party atmosphere. We’re back in the parking lot [this year], and it’s more intimate. People have more time to enjoy the event and enjoy the beer. We tried to make sure it’s about the beer.”

Which, it is, of course. Previous WABFs have spawned larger production of favorites, such as the Wizard Burial Ground, a bourbon barrel-aged Quad. It was so loved by attendees, Brewery Vivant decided to scale up production and release it on a wider scale. Like Spaulding said, WABF is a big experiment—an opportunity for Vivant to test brews and have fun and for the public to help shape the future flavor profile of beers to come.

Twenty six beers were available during each of the two sessions held this year—another new component to the festival. An afternoon session and evening session, with an hour in between for cleanup and last call, seemed to go smoothly and everyone was able to taste to their hearts’ content without massive lines and crowded seating.

John Ward , Vivant’s Experience Warden, dressed appropriately in monk garb, said that “more than anything, we wanted to make it more accessible, not have 1200 people at a time, 1800 people at a time. Your lines are more cluttered, there are more things that can go wrong. This makes it easier on us, better for them, and a better overall experience.”

It was definitely a good experience. So many notable and fun beers available in one place, it’s hard to pick standouts, but I’ll try.

Angelina is the girl with lots of fests under her belt. Vivant’s first barrel ever, she’s been around for as long as the brewery has. A 6.7% ABV oak-aged house Sour, this beer is a good representation of what Vivant is.

Paris is another girl we’ve seen before. The nature of barrel aging makes things a little different each go around, and it’s usually a wonderful surprise. A wild red wine barrel-aged Saison, the mild funk works well with the notes the red wine imparts.

A few firkins were available. The unique properties of cask conditioning beer and serving it at a warmer temperature make for some very tasty, more traditional, and often surprising results, like the Tree Bucket Double IPA aged on brandy-soaked cherrywood.

Dead Wizard in the Basement, Wizard Burial Ground oak barrel aged with brettanomyces yeast came in at 11% ABV, making for a heady beer. Guardian of the Universe, a traditional, northern France biere de garde—Vivant’s Verdun—aged in a white wine barrel, had just enough tartness and twist but still kept true to its roots in a delicious way.

Head brewer Jacob Derylo, of course, loved everything, but he did share that Coming Up Peaches, a bourbon barrel-aged Tripel with fresh-from-the-farmers market peaches, might be his favorite this year.

“We’re having fun, making cool beer, and meeting cool people,” said Derylo. “I wake up every morning and want to go to work. I love my job. I make people happy. Not everyone can say that.”

Brewery Vivant has been a mainstay of the burgeoning East Hills area in Grand Rapids. They have witnessed new stores, restaurants, and community members become part of their circle. They give back to the community, in more ways than just providing beer. The WABF is a gathering place—an opportunity to talk to your neighbors and talk to those folks you haven’t seen in a few months, all over an expertly crafted glass of barrel-aged goodness.

“Why is it so popular? Because it’s cool. And it tastes delicious. It’s that simple,” said Derylo.