Posts

Grand Rapids, Mich. – Broad Leaf Local Beer, the alter ego of the largest independently owned brewery in Grand Rapids, Brewery Vivant, is preparing to launch its beer into the market through self distribution in early 2020. Since late summer, the brewery has been quietly operating in its new tap room at 2885 Lake Eastbrook Blvd, just around the corner from Trader Joe’s. During this time, the brewery has been experimenting with beer and food recipes. It has already carved out a reputation for its progressive offerings being recently voted as a 2019 Best New Brewpub by Revue Magazine readers.

They recently teamed up with Grand Rapids based Koeze Company to make a beer version of their famous Cream-Nut Peanut Butter Cluster candy. The beer is part of a pre-launch of the brewery’s beers into the marketplace where the public is invited to vote on which of the four beers will be distributed. The kick-off party will include a ‘Rube Goldberg’ inspired machine that through a series of pulleys, ramps and match box cars will automatically bag the first four-pack sold to a lucky customer. 

“As we approach our 110th anniversary as a Grand Rapids based company, we were excited to work with a brewery who has such a great reputation for both beer and food and its connection to the community,” says Koeze Nut Company President Jeff Koeze. “It seemed like a difficult task to re-create our specialty candy in beer form. However we tried the beer and the Cream-Nut Peanut Butter Cluster side-by-side and it was amazing!” 

“Koeze is well known for their high quality products, it seemed like a natural fit for our brands to work together,” says Brewery Vivant CEO Jason Spaulding. “Broad Leaf is our outlet to pilot new and creative beers and this project was the perfect fit. We achieved just the right balance of flavors and are excited to share it with the public.” 

Broad Leaf Local Beer’s launch event is on December 27 with four exciting beers; Hazy J, a taproom favorite New England style juicy IPA, Koeze Cream Nut Cluster, the Koeze Cream-Nut inspired peanut butter-chocolate beer, Vanilla-zilla a vanilla milkshake IPA, and Banan-Appeal a rich stout made with 200 pounds of bananas and blended with bourbon barrel aged beer. 

“We are looking for guest feedback on these beers. Based on what people think, we will select which ones to scale up and put out in the marketplace,” says Broad Leaf taproom manager Jared Rader. “Our owner Jason has a few tricks up his sleeve to make this a mind-blowing event. He loves Rube Goldberg machines and has been working on an overly complicated beer delivery system with pulleys, ropes, and matchbox cars that will drop a four-pack from the ceiling into a grocery bag for the first retail customer whenever we launch a new packaged beer.” 

“Part of what has made Broad Leaf beers sought after is that they have only been available at the brewery itself since we opened,” says Brewery Vivant President Kris Spaulding. “We look forward to sharing our beers with a wider audience through working directly with some of the industry friends we have made over the years. A select number of retailers and bars will soon have the beer available to sell at their locations. Even though the window of opportunity is short for public input, it will be fun to see what people think,” she adds. 

According to current liquor laws, Broad Leaf Local Beer will only be able to self distribute into the first few months of the year. Existing as two brands under one umbrella, once Broad Leaf and Brewery Vivant aggregate 1,000 barrels of production between the two entities, self distribution will cease. “Broad Leaf hasn’t been in the market before,” says CEO Jason Spaulding. “While our Vivant brands will continue to be sold through our trusted wholesale partners, this little bit of self distribution will allow us to see what the market thinks without having to commit to long-term wholesale contracts,” he adds. 

Launch event details: Doors open at 11:00 AM on Friday, December 27 at Broad Leaf Local Beer. The four new beers will be available on draft and customers are encouraged to vote for their favorites throughout the day and the following weeks until supply runs out. The main event begins at 4:00 when the “Beer-Delivery” machine will be activated and one lucky customer will be able to take home the 4-pack of that drops from the ceiling. Also starting at 4:00 Koeze Nut Company will be on hand with Cream-Nut peanut butter clusters to sample alongside the collaboration beer. Live music by local band “Cheap Emotion” begins at 9:00 PM. 

 

speciation

The natural brewery and winery will open a new tasting room on Wealthy Street in 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.– Speciation Artisan Ales and Native Species Winery will have a new home at 928 Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids.

The new tasting room for the nature-inspired brewery and winery will open later in 2020 pending licensing and approvals.

Co-owners Mitch and Whitney Ermatinger say the move from Comstock Park will bring their products closer to their customers.

“It’s time to get more of our product directly into people’s hands,” said Mitch Ermatinger. “We have always looked at Wealthy Street for a potential taproom location because of the area’s strong sense of community and identity. We are excited to play a part in the growth of one of the best and most exciting business corridors in the city!”

Speciation Artisan Ales is a “mixed culture” brewery, which specializes in wild ales and ciders inspired by the variations that can be found in nature. Native Species Winery extends those concepts to wine, using foot-crushed grapes and natural fermentation techniques. Both businesses source Michigan-grown ingredients for their products.

Moving the businesses to the new location near the intersection of Wealthy and Diamond will enable them to stay on top of industry trends, Ermatinger said.

“The craft beer movement is shifting significantly—away from distribution and toward tasting room and direct sales,” Ermatinger said. “We would like to stay ahead of the changes in the industry and position ourselves for long-term stability with a wide range of house-made small batch beverages, including beer, natural wine, wine spritzers, seltzers and cider.”

The Comstock Park taproom will close when the new taproom opens, after which the Comstock Park location will be used for production only.

“Our current location in Comstock Park served its purpose to get us started, but it’s time to get more of our product directly into people’s hands. We believe the best way to do that is to move to a more central location,” Ermatinger said. “The many excellent businesses on Wealthy and Cherry Street complement each other so well, and we think that we will be a strong asset to that community.”

cedar springs

The brewery is bringing its German-inspired brews to Grand Rapids’s West Side

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Cedar Springs Brewing is bringing its German-inspired beers to a historically German neighborhood in Grand Rapids.

The brewery has announced plans to develop a second location on the city’s West Side at 642 Bridge Street NW.

Küsterer Brauhaus will join New Holland Brewing Company, Harmony Hall, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and the soon-to-come Arktos Meadery on Bridge Street.

The new location is named after Christoph Kusterer, who immigrated to Grand Rapids from Germany in 1844. Kusterer started a brewery in 1847 less than a mile away from what will become Küsterer Brauhaus in 2020.

“We’re excited to return Küsterer Bier to its historical roots, just down Bridge Street from the location of their original brewery and into the evolving ‘Brewery Row’ on the West Side,” said David Ringler, founder and Director of Happiness at Cedar Springs Brewing.

Cedar Springs Brewing opened its doors in Cedar Springs, Michigan in 2015. Heavily inspired by the German tradition of beer brewing, its menu features a mix of Bavarian-inspired food and drink and American pub fare and craft beer.

The new location promises a traditional and authentic German beer hall experience. It will serve the brewery’s signature Küsterer Biers, including traditional Bavarian hefeweizens and lagers, as well as Cedar Springs brand ales and location-specific beers.

“This area was home to several German and Central European beer halls prior to Prohibition, so we look forward to creating a traditional, Munich-style hall as a positive contribution to this vibrant neighborhood,” Ringler said.

Küsterer Brauhaus will have its own three-barrel brewery on site, manufactured in the U.S.A. by Fronhofer Design. The project is being developed by Weber Developments, LLC.

safe haven

The producers will sell specially crafted drinks and merch to benefit Safe Haven Ministries

A group of Grand Rapids craft beverage producers has come together to support Safe Haven Ministries’ mission of solving the problem of domestic abuse in the community.

The 22 businesses have rallied around the proclamation that “Love Shouldn’t Hurt.” 

safe haven

Participating breweries, wineries and distilleries have each created a new beverage named “Love.” The unique brews, ciders and cocktails will be sold at each business with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Safe Haven Ministries.

The project kicks off on November 25 and will run through the remainder of the year.

The Mitten State, an apparel company based in Grand Rapids, will also donate a portion of sales of its Michigan “Love” apparel series. A few participating locations will sell limited edition “Love” pint glasses to benefit the nonprofit.

“First and foremost, the goal of this project is to support Safe Haven in their mission to solve the problem of domestic abuse in our community,” said Dana Mate Dones, operations manager of The Mitten Brewing Company. “But a secondary goal is to prove that when responsibly enjoyed, alcohol can be a force for good and actually be a part of breaking the cycle of domestic abuse, despite its long negative association with the issue.”

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.

“It’s an important consideration for our industry to think about how what we produce affects individuals in our community,” said Edwin Collazo, co-owner of City Built Brewing. “We have taken great care to practice responsibility as it pertains to our environment, our service and training, as well as how those things affect the most vulnerable. Better drinking culture is a real thing!”

safe haven

Participants include Founders Brewing Company, The Mitten Brewing Company, Speciation Artisan Ales, Long Road Distillers, City Built Brewing, The People’s Cider Co., Vander Mill Grand Rapids, Gray Skies Distillery, Cedar Springs Brewing Company, Broad Leaf Local Beer, Harmony Brewing, Harmony Hall, Trail Point Brewing, Rockford Brewing, Thornapple Brewing, Railtown Brewing, TwoGuys Brewing, Wise Men Distillery, Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery, Brewery Vivant, Atwater Brewing, Coldbreak and Better Drinking Culture.

“We are honored to be a part of the ‘Love Shouldn’t Hurt’ project, along with many of our friends in the Grand Rapids brewing community to support survivors of domestic abuse,” said Mitch Ermatinger, owner of Speciation Artisan Ales.

beer city brewers guild

The festival will feature new and exclusive beer selections from more than 20 Grand Rapids breweries

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — The Beer City Brewers Guild has announced it will host a new beer festival celebrating the craft brewing community of Grand Rapids this fall. “Brews in the Grove” will take place on Saturday, October 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. at Riverside Park in Ballpark 4. The festival will feature never-before-tasted offerings from a diverse selection of breweries.

“This will not be a fest filled with beers from our regular beer lineups,” said Mitch Ermatinger, vice president of the guild and co-owner of Speciation Artisan Ales.

The Beer City Brewers Guild is a group of Grand Rapids brewers working in collaboration with beer-centric businesses to celebrate, promote and raise awareness for the craft brewing culture of Grand Rapids.

For the last three years, the guild has hosted a Pro-Am competition, which pairs local award-winning homebrewers with microbreweries to craft unique recipes. Entries in the 2019 Pro-Am competition will be available to taste at the festival.

“These are all one-off beers, but many of them become so popular that they make it into regular lineups for breweries,” Ermatinger said.

The winner of the 2019 Pro-Am competition will be announced at the festival.

Over 20 Grand Rapids breweries will be represented at “Brews in the Grove,” and each participating brewery will have at least one new beer made especially for the festival on tap.

“We are requiring every brewery to debut a new beer at this fest,” Ermatinger said. “That can be either a one-off keg, or a whole new brand or batch of beer.”

Unlike many beer festivals, which are often hosted by third parties, “Brews in the Grove” will be hosted by the brewers of Grand Rapids.

“The sole purpose of this festival is to celebrate and promote beer made in Grand Rapids, so the brewers of GR are coming together to throw a unique event,” Ermatinger said.

Tickets to the festival are $45 each and include 10 tokens. Each token purchases one 3-ounce sample of any beer at the festival. Additional tokens will be available for purchase for $1 each. Tickets will available to purchase on Eventbrite.

The festival promises to be a celebration of the one-of-a-kind craft beer community that has earned Grand Rapids nationwide recognition.

“I’m excited to have one event for the brewers and beer fans of Grand Rapids to come together and show the world why we are consistently named in publications as being one of the best beer cities in the country!” Ermatinger said.

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.

long road distillers

New distillery Tasting Room to open in the heart of Downtown Grand Haven

 

Grand Haven, Mich. – Grand Rapids-based Long Road Distillers is set to open a new distillery tasting room in Grand Haven, Michigan this week. The lakeshore location will be the company’s second offsite tasting room apart from their headquarters on the West Side of Grand Rapids where they house their production facility, cocktail bar and restaurant. They also have a retail location in Boyne City.

Visitors to the new Grand Haven location will be able to enjoy an extensive lakeshore-inspired cocktail menu and a full food menu featuring snacks, share-ables, salads, sandwiches and more. Guests will also be able to sample Long Road’s line-up of award-winning spirits, participate in special tasting events, and purchase merchandise and bottles to-go.

long road“Our team is excited to finally join the Grand Haven community,” said Kyle VanStrien, Long Road Distillers Co-Founder and Co-Owner. “We’ve been working on a location here for nearly two years, and it’s certainly been a long road. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been able to build!”

Long Road Grand Haven is located at 18 Washington Ave, in the heart of the downtown business area, and less than a block from the waterfront. It features a new 6-seat bar and 40-seat dining area that opens to a 10-seat patio on the sidewalk with large, sliding glass doors.

“We’re excited to bring our curated experience to the lakeshore,” said Jon O’Connor, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of Long Road Distillers. “We look forward to adding something new and unique for the residents and visitors of Grand Haven to enjoy.”

An official grand opening and ribbon cutting will be held at 5:30 pm on Thursday, July 18. Going forward, the distillery will be open daily from 11a to 11p.

See the Cocktails and Kitchen menus, and to stay up to date on the Long Road – Grand Haven.

 

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.