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single

The West Side brew hall announces new series of singles nights

Tired of using dating apps that implore you to swipe left or right and reduce yourself to a few flattering selfies and a one-sentence bio? Wish you could just meet and chat with other single people with a shared love of craft beer? You’re in luck.

Harmony Hall is taking the “e” out of “eHarmony” and making it easier for single craft beer enthusiasts to find a spark, face to face. The beer hall is hosting its first “Single & Ready to Mingle” event this Friday, June 21 at 7 p.m.

“Craft beer is a great conversation starter, and our space at Harmony Hall is a perfect place to mingle,” said Kristine Kaechele, event manager at Harmony Hall. “Join us for good beer, craft conversation and a fun, low-pressure environment.”

single

There will be no speed dating or games at this singles night. Instead, Harmony Hall will serve a special “Single & Ready to Mingle” flight, which will come with a flight sheet filled with craft beer-focused conversation starters. The flight will include a beer brewed just for the event.

“We were inspired by a consensus among members in the Facebook group DrinkGR who were single and wanted opportunities to bond over a shared love of craft beer,” said Harmony Hall co-owner Heather Van Dyke-Titus. “We wanted to offer a safe, gimmick-free space for single craft beer lovers to make a connection.”

It’s time you started looking for love in all the right places. Visit Harmony Hall this Friday evening and make a crafted connection with another appreciator of all things microbrew.

broad leaf beer

Opinion

Can Brewery Vivant’s “Weird Cousin” Grow on Their Own?

 

Brewery Vivant has earned their reputation and respect from the industry and consumers for good reason. Their commitment to community, sustainability, and inclusive company culture are impressive and admirable. In 2010, they introduced West Michigan to Belgian and French-inspired farmhouse ales and have kept us hooked. They prove that a brewery’s food can—and should be—just as good as their beer. C’mon, by now, if you haven’t had their duck nachos, burger cooked medium-rare, or a dessert by their house pastry chef… Sorry, where were we?

When Vivant announced the recent grand opening of Broad Leaf Local Beer., they gave it a seemingly endearing and harmless nickname that created two things: interest and expectations. Other media outlets latched onto these low-hanging buzzwords, too. Before the doors had a chance to open, Broad Leaf came off as if it was already in the shadows of their otherwise presumed more mature relative. In some variation, headlines baited: Broad Leaf Local Beer, Brewery Vivant’s “Weird Cousin,” Opens.

broad leaf beer

Playful? Perhaps. Accurate? Eh… Time will tell. The hangup now, for me though, is that I’m struggling to unsee them.

When I visited Broad Leaf on the first day they were open to the public, I wanted to be weirded out. A weird version of something related to Vivant? Yes, please! Instead, I found myself trying to figure out where Vivant left off and Broad Leaf began.

And, yes—to be fair, I realize this was their first day. But, if you’re going to self-proclaim your own nickname, even in jest, you gotta come out swinging. Give us something strange, mysterious, unusual.

Broad Leaf’s location in Kentwood is a well-needed reprieve from big-box retailers and fast food chains on a crowded 28th Street. It definitely looks different than Vivant. Where it deviates from Vivant’s intimacy and distinct, inherited architecture, it makes up for in hip, industrial open-format simplicity. Bonus points for their clever use of shipping containers. It feels like you’re in the heart of a city on the come-up rather than a stark strip mall of sorts. I like where the place seems to be headed.

The interior is pointed in a direction that could get weird. The color palette used throughout is fun, and the couple pieces of hanging tapestries are trendy enough to start giving off a vibe that’s right on. Their intent is to decorate the walls with local artwork. There’s so much space to play with—if maximized just right, it should help tie the room together. When the kitchen opens later this summer I’m hopeful that if their food is half as good as Vivant’s—and fingers crossed a little daring—it will also help them better demonstrate the experience they’re promising.

Upon closer examination, however, things got a little blurry. Namely, with the beer list. Based on what the press was recycling in advance of their opening, the beers were supposed to be, rightfully so, the lynchpin in distinguishing Broad Leaf from Vivant. In a press release from Vivant, owner Jason Spaulding explains, “With the development of new hop varieties, new beer styles, and emerging brewing techniques we wanted to push the creative line and participate in this new wave of craft.” Jon Ward, creative director, supports Spaulding’s vision, “…with the opening of Broad Leaf we have a whole new corner of the map to explore—beyond the edges of the map in some ways.” I was excited when I read this. Toss the map and carve your own path, I say!

But… out of the 13 beers available on draft, four were clearly designated “Vivant beers,” and a handful of the remaining nine have either been in rotation or were currently still on tap at Vivant.

broad leaf beer

For those Vivant loyalists paying close attention, two were most recognizable. Pugs! Pugs! Pugs! Pugs! Pugs! King of the Metal (Cowboys) is a green-colored juicy “Weird IPA” with Blue Razz slushy mix. It was listed under Broad Leaf beers while Rage the Dulcimer, a barrel-aged stout with grilled pineapple, salt, and chocolate, was listed under Vivant Beers. I drank both at Vivant three weeks prior during their second annual Weird Beer Weekend. My lips hadn’t touched a beer yet at Broad Leaf, and I couldn’t help but scratch my head.

While Broad Leaf is still putting the finishing touches on installing their own brew system on site, Vivant’s team of brewers has been pulling double duty to stock Broad Leaf’s draft lines. I can respect that. Utilize your established resources to help launch your new project. But, also be mindful to allow your protégé to shine in their own light.

While we unknowingly have already seen many of Broad Leaf’s beers piloted under Vivant’s roof (and name) in preparation for Broad Leaf’s opening, this is also precisely where the momentum behind their inauguration, for me, stalled. Although the beers I drank that were labeled “Broad Leaf” were quite good and crafted with expertise, aside from a tease of different hop varieties and the absence of Vivant’s signature use of Belgian yeast, I didn’t know whose beer I was really drinking. Was it a leftover Vivant beer repackaged as a new, different brewery, or was it an accurate representation of who Broad Leaf is to become? I hope that the latter is the one that matters to both breweries in question.

I trust Vivant, and I want to love Broad Leaf, but I believe one thing needs to happen sooner than later, even if that means a refined, shorter draft list in the interim: Broad Leaf’s identity and beers need to be distinctly independent from Vivant. Otherwise, Broad Leaf may risk being known only as Vivant’s other brewery. If Broad Leaf was instead marketed as, let’s say, Vivant Experimental—where peculiar and quality are concocted, I believe both endeavors could get away with much more. But, if Broad Leaf is going to be positioned as its own brewery, it deserves its own persona, too.

broad leaf beer

You can’t fault Vivant for pursuing a second location. For space alone, it satisfies their need for additional cold and dry storage while alleviating space restrictions within their original footprint in East Hills. To further capitalize on the move, creating a second brewery is a smart no-brainer. Another brewery in the family unlocks accessibility for a whole new audience and convenience for those who crave something Vivant, but want to save a trip downtown. After all, their success has allowed for Broad Leaf to exist

Still, the underlying question begs whether Broad Leaf will be able—and whether Vivant will allow it—to own an identity distinct and distinguished enough from their older and wiser normal cousin.

 

mas agave

Third Release in 2019 Barrel-Aged Series is an Imperial Lime Gose-style Ale,

Aged in Tequila Barrels and Inspired by the Margarita

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Founders Brewing Co. has announced that Más Agave will be the third release in the brewery’s esteemed Barrel-Aged Series. An imperial lime gose-style ale brewed with agave and aged in tequila barrels, Más Agave is the first tequila barrel-aged beer Founders has bottled. Más Agave (10% ABV) will be available in all markets beginning in early May in 4-packs (12oz bottles) and 750mL bottles. Más Agave will be available in both the Detroit and Grand Rapids taproom locations on May 3.

mas agave“As our barrel program grows, we’re fortunate to have access to different types of wood outside of our usual bourbon barrels,” said Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki. “This inspired me to think outside of traditional beer flavors and more along the lines of flavor profiles you might find in a cocktail. With its salty and tangy character, the gose-style was a perfect match with one of my favorite cocktails, the margarita. So, we sourced some fantastic tequila barrels and brewed an imperial gose with lime and agave inspired by this classic cocktail.”

The Más Agave label art was inspired by Day of the Dead imagery, specifically the elaborate altars built to honor deceased loved ones. Marigolds play heavily in the altars, as it is said that the scent attracts the spirits. The monarch butterfly is representative of the travel ancestors make to reach their loved ones during the holiday.

“Brewers don’t have the luxury of being happy with a static lineup,” said Co-Founder and President, Dave Engbers. “In today’s brewing landscape, innovation is key to standing out and it’s our responsibility to continue to push boundaries and create something new and unique. Our success came out of challenging the status quo and that spirit drives us every time we bring a new beer, like Más Agave, into the lineup.”

Más Agave is preceded by KBS and Backwoods Bastard in the brewery’s 2019 Barrel-Aged Series. It will be followed by a yet-to-be-announced release in September and CBS in November.

 

About the Barrel-Aged Series

Crafting legendary barrel-aged beers is an exercise in patience. We start by brewing complex, world-class beer worthy of time in a barrel. Then, our experience and years spent mastering our craft means we know exactly when it’s been aged to perfection. After one sip, you’ll know – it was worth the wait.

About Founders Brewing Co.

Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 10 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. A proud sponsor of chasing the American dream, Founders launched the Chase Your What If campaign in January 2019 to inspire all beer fans to live life to its fullest. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a member of the Michigan Brewers Guild. For more information, visit foundersbrewing.com.

 

triple mash

Holland, Mich  — New Holland Brewing Company has announced the highly anticipated return of Dragon’s Milk Triple Mash. Last released in 2017, the bourbon barrel-aged stout will be available once again—in Michigan only—starting Saturday, April 27.

Aged for one year in New Holland Spirits oak bourbon barrels, Triple Mash clocks in at a beastly 17 percent ABV. But this beast’s bite is nothing to fear—the beer offers an intense malt character paired with warm, toasted flavor notes from its time in the wood.

“We couldn’t be more excited to release Dragon’s Milk Triple Mash into the wild. Triple Mash takes what is already an amazing beer and really amplifies all those classic Dragon’s Milk flavors to the moon—the roasted malt, barrel sweetness and bourbon all shine through,” said Dominic Bergquist, Brand Manager. “Our brewers have outdone themselves with this brew.”

New Holland will celebrate the release of the beer on Saturday, April 27 at its pubs in Grand Rapids and Holland. Extremely limited draft and bottle distribution will follow.

Release parties at New Holland’s Grand Rapids and Holland pubs will kick off on Saturday, April 27. The pubs will open early, with festivities starting at 10 a.m. Release party attendees will be able to sip Triple Mash on draft, as well as part of a special “Flight of the Dragon” sampler that features Triple Mash along with Dragon’s Milk, Dragon’s Milk White and Dragon’s Milk: Brewer’s Select (2019)—which was aged in a first-use bourbon barrel and hand-selected from New Holland’s cellar just for this occasion.

“Our pub teams have done an amazing job putting together such a great release event. There is no doubt that Triple Mash is the star of the show, but you’re also getting a chance to sample some crazy rare beer, listen to amazing bands and of course, there will be pepperoni pinwheels,” Bergquist said.

triple mashThe beer will be sold in 4-packs at $24.99 each (plus tax and deposit), with a limit of one case per customer, per day. There will also be a limited edition Triple Mash Teku glass available for purchase at both New Holland pubs.

Those looking to truly relish in the release and celebrate the world of Dragon’s Milk should sign up for the “Tour of Legends: Ultimate Dragon’s Milk Experience.” The first tour takes place at The Knickerbocker in Grand Rapids on Friday, April 26—giving attendees a taste of Triple Mash a day before its official release. Participants in all three tours will also get to taste samples of Dragon’s Milk, Dragon’s Milk Reserve variants, Dragon’s Milk first- and second-use barrels and Triple Mash. Tickets are available for purchase at dragonsmilk.com for $75 and come with one Triple Mash 4-pack, one Triple Mash Teku glass and one Triple Mash sticker.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done the Tour of Legends, and I know that some of our biggest Dragon’s Milk fans are going to be so stoked to experience it,” Bergquist said. “It’s all about highlighting what makes Dragon’s Milk so special, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend.”

Tour of Legends: Ultimate Dragon’s Milk Experience

  • Friday, 4/26, 6:30pm at The Knickerbocker in Grand Rapids

  • Saturday, 4/27, 12pm & 2:30pm at Production Campus in Holland

Purchase tickets for Tour of Legends at dragonsmilk.com

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.

imperial stout

First Mothership Release of 2019

 

imperial stout

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  Founders Brewing Co. has announced the first release of the 2019 Mothership Series. Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout (12.8% ABV) is a complex bourbon barrel-aged stout featuring the warm and roasted characteristics of a thick stout, with the added richness of oak and vanilla notes from the barrel-aging. This beautiful beast of a beer is the fifth release of the Mothership Series and will debut as a Founders taproom-exclusive on January 23.

“This is the biggest, boldest taproom Mothership Series release yet,” said Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki. “We took what’s already a huge beer, Imperial Stout, and aged it in bourbon barrels for not one, but two years. The oak from the barrel complements the cocoa and licorice notes perfectly. This one should go quick!”

The taproom Mothership Series is an ultra-limited, brew team favorite beer series only available at the Founders Grand Rapids and Detroit taprooms. Whether it is an old standby brought out of retirement or an experimental new style, it’s sure to go quickly. The previous Mothership beers have included: Panther Cub, MF Donkey Stout, Sleeper Cell and Red’s Rye IPA. The release of Mothership Series Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout coincides with the first day of Cellar Raid on Wednesday, January 23, five days of taproom exclusive, small batch, barrel-aged and never-before-tapped beers at the Grand Rapids taproom.

Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout will have a retail price of $15.00/6-pack.

 

About Founders Brewing Co.

Established in 1997 by two craft beer enthusiasts—Dave Engbers and Mike Stevens—with day jobs and a dream, Founders Brewing Co. brews complex, in-your-face ales, with huge aromatics and tons of flavor. Founders ranks among the top 10 largest craft breweries in the U.S. and is one of the fastest growing. The brewery has received numerous awards from the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival and RateBeer and BeerAdvocate users often rate its beers among the best in the world. A proud sponsor of chasing the American dream, Founders launched the Chase Your What If campaign in January 2019 to inspire all beer fans to live life to its fullest. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a member of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

mitten brewing

The latest Mitten Foundation project will benefit Safe Haven Ministries

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — This winter, The Mitten Brewing Company and The Mitten State have teamed up to proclaim “Love Shouldn’t Hurt.” The companies’ Mitten Foundation collaboration will raise funds and awareness for victims of domestic abuse.

Sales of LOVE IPA, a red India Pale Ale brewed for the cause, or a LOVE tee, hoodie or glass will support Safe Haven Ministries: a Grand Rapids organization dedicated to serving women and children who have suffered domestic abuse.

“Helping families in our area this winter is as easy as enjoying the Michigan beer and apparel you already love,” said Scott Zubrickas, co-owner of The Mitten State.

mitten brewing

The fundraiser kicks off on November 21 and will continue until the companies have raised $10,000 for Safe Haven Ministries. The funds will underwrite shelter costs for area women and children seeking safety from domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is a prevalent issue nationwide: one in three women have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to a national report from the CDC. The problem pervades Grand Rapids, too.

“Last year, our two companies came together to grant money to our Westside neighbors in need of heating assistance. We noticed that the bulk of the applications came from women, but more interesting was that they were all survivors of domestic abuse,” said Dana Mate Dones, president of Mitten Foundation, Inc. “This year we understood that the best approach to helping was through the experts in the subject, Safe Haven.”

Safe Haven Ministries provides emergency shelter, case management, support groups and more to women and children suffering from domestic abuse. The organization also provides education and prevention programs for businesses, schools, healthcare providers and other members of the community.

mitten brewing

LOVE IPA will be sold only at The Mitten Brewing Company’s Grand Rapids location at 527 Leonard St NW. LOVE branded apparel and goods will be available for purchase online at themittenstate.com or at The Mitten State shop at 415 Bridge St NW.

“We’re confident that with the help of our amazing customers we can meet our goal and ensure that area women and children in crisis are safe and warm this winter season,” said Chris Andrus, co-owner of The Mitten Brewing Company.

 

gray skies

 

Grand Rapids, Mich – Gray Skies Distillery released their first straight rye whiskey November 7 and will follow shortly with a limited-edition release of their Breakfast Bourbon on November 20. Both spirits will be available for purchase in their tasting room and through licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan via statewide distribution. Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey was aged in charred new, oak barrels for over two years and bottled at 90 proof. Breakfast Bourbon was aged over two years and bottled at 87 proof. Breakfast Bourbon spent time in two different barrels, starting in in charred new, oak barrels before it was finished for 9 months in maple syrup casks. These two whiskeys bring the total number of American whiskeys Gray Skies Distillery offers up to five: Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey, Breakfast Bourbon, Breakfast Rye, Single Malt Whiskey and Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Each Gray Skies Distillery whiskey is painstakingly made from grain in 500-gallon batches. Gray Skies proudly uses an inefficient pot still for its whiskeys to maintain maximum flavor at the expense of productivity. Each whiskey is double distilled before resting in barrels on-site for years. With five premium American whiskeys available and a growing, aging whiskey stock Gray Skies Distillery continues to define Michigan craft whiskey.

“Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey is a perfect complement to the coming cold weather. It’s the ultimate cocktail whiskey with a strong rye backbone that stands up to other ingredients” said Steve Vander Pol, co-owner of Gray Skies Distillery. “Because this is a straight whiskey, no additional flavors were added. My tasting notes include figs, chocolate, black pepper and cinnamon. This flavor profile was created using only grain, water, yeast and time in oak barrels.”

“Breakfast Bourbon offers a playful twist on a typical bourbon whiskey. Unlike our rye, this is not a straight spirit. We infused maple flavor into the whiskey by taking a traditional bourbon and finishing it for 9 months in a barrel that was previously used to age maple syrup,” Vander Pol continued. “The maple finish amplifies the sweetness inherent in bourbon whiskey and imparts a creamy mouthfeel to the viscous finished spirit. These whiskey releases expand our craft whiskey offerings to five distinct spirits, highlighting what a small batch distillery can do.”

Gray Skies Distillery was named Michigan Distillery of The Year in 2016 at the 7th annual New York International Spirits Competition on the strength of its gold medal winning Barrel Finished Gin. The Gray Skies Distillery line up of spirits are currently available in hundreds of licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan. Distribution is currently limited to Michigan, but the distillery hopes to expand into additional states with future whiskey releases.

 

About Gray Skies Distillery:

Grain to glass, locally made in Grand Rapids.

At Gray Skies Distillery, we don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, we focus our attention on our process, flavors, environment and those looking for the unexpected. We take pride in introducing traditional spirits – like gin, whiskey and rum – with a surprising flavor twist, making them unique to Gray Skies Distillery. Our small-batch process is married with traditional methods to create a spirit that is innovative and exceptional in quality. We are committed to working with local businesses whenever possible to craft our flavor-forward spirits. From local malted barley to repurposing Michigan maple syrup barrels, our innovative ingredients push the limits on what good spirits truly embody.