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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., – Founders Brewing Co. announced today that they will release Curmudgeon’s Better Half as the fifth installment in the 2018 Barrel-Aged Series. Curmudgeon’s Better Half, an old ale brewed with molasses and aged in maple syrup bourbon barrels, is preceded by Dankwood, Backwoods Bastard, KBS and Barrel Runner in the series. This marks the first time the beer has been bottled since 2012.

What tames an old ale like Curmudgeon? The tender embrace of oak and sweet maple, that’s what. That’s right, Curmudgeon’s Better Half features the brewery’s recently retired old ale, Curmudgeon, as the base beer. Aged for months in bourbon barrels that have previously held maple syrup, the result is sweet, rich and utterly delicious.

“We’re tasked with bringing out a handful of new barrel-aged beers a year and some of them may be new inventions and others, like Curmudgeon’s Better Half, will be hits from the past,” said VP of PPIL/ Barrel Maestro, Jason Heystek. “This was a beer that needed to get back into the rotation.”

Curmudgeon’s Better Half will be available in 4-packs of 12oz bottles, 750mL bottles and on draft in the Grand Rapids and Detroit taproom beginning on August 24 and everywhere else later that month. It will have an SRP of $16.99/4-pack and $12.99/750mL bottle although prices will vary by market. 12.7% ABV and 35 IBUs.

“The flavor profile of Curmudgeon’s Better Half has lots of rich specialty grains, toasted malts, caramel malts, and, of course, the perfect hop balance” said Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki. “After that it spends some time in bourbon barrel which gives you vanilla and coconuts tones and the maple gives you the perfect amount of sweetness.”

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. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders is a proud member of the Michigan Brewers Guild.

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.

 

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.

beer city pro-am

“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.

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Grand Rapids’s Harmony Brewing is expanding. The addition of a second kitchen and an indoor/outdoor beer garden has more than doubled the brew pub’s seating capacity at its Eastown location. The new space opens June 13.

harmony

“We will be able to welcome more people to Harmony,” co-owner Heather VanDyke-Titus said. “We’ve prioritized nice big tables. People will know if they want to come with a big group on a Friday, there will be room.”

The expansion will center Harmony Brewing at the “pinnacle of Eastown,” on the corner of Wealthy Street and Lake Drive. The new space promises to maintain the character people have loved about the original Harmony.

“We’re still working within the fabric of what was already there,” Barry VanDyke said. “What people love about that coziness of that side of town–it’s still going to feel that way.”

The expansion also comes with a new feature: pizza and beer delivery. Harmony Brewing will start delivering their wood-fired pizzas, craft beer and retail merchandise this June.

Alcohol delivery has become increasingly popular in recent years. Drizly, an alcohol e-commerce platform, started delivering beer, wine and liquor in select cities in 2012. A variety of Chicago craft breweries started delivering growlers in 2016. More recently, major pizza companies like Pizza Hut and Papa Johns have experimented with delivering alcohol with their pizzas.

But Harmony Brewing is unique in delivering its own craft beer alongside its signature wood-fired pizza.

Delivery will be first available to the neighborhoods surrounding Harmony Brewing, including East Grand Rapids, Eastown and Downtown Grand Rapids.

“We’re going to start fairly small with our delivery footprint until we get our wheels underneath us, so to speak, then we’ll hopefully be expanding from there,” co-owner Barry VanDyke said.

Customers will be able to order pizza, beer and merchandise over the phone and online through Harmony’s new website. Each order must simply meet a $20 minimum. Payment will only be accepted in the form of credit or debit cards and can be processed online or in person.

Harmony Brewing delivery drivers will be equipped with an app to check IDs. During the transaction, the driver will take a photo of the customer’s ID, and the app will store it with the driver’s name and the date and location of the delivery.

“This is a way to bring your whole Harmony experience to your door,” Barry VanDyke said. “Seeking Harmony? Have it delivered.”

Saugatuck, Mich. — The Mitten Brewing Company is bringing its signature craft beer and pizza to a third Michigan town: Saugatuck.

The brewery’s new location at 329 Water Street will open on Friday, June 8. It’s located across the street from The Mermaid Bar and Grill, Coppercraft Distillery, Ridge Cider and just a few doors down from Coral Gables.

mitten brewing

The small building is a pre-Civil War home that had been converted to a commercial space.

“We seem to have an affinity for choosing old buildings at the Mitten,” said The Mitten Brewing Co-Owner Chris Andrus. The Mitten’s original location is in an historic Grand Rapids firehouse.

Like The Mitten’s original location, the new space required some rebuilding—much of which Andrus and Co-Owner Max Trierweiler did themselves.

The new space will seat 80 patrons: 36 indoors and 44 outside on the covered patio and in the lawn on picnic tables Andrus and Trierweiler built.

Andrus and Trierweiler built the new bar from 1840s-era lumber—from back when Saugatuck was a lumber town and port. The wood was a gift from Saugatuck Brewing Company Founder and Former Saugatuck Mayor Barry Johnson, who Andrus said is a friend and mentor to The Mitten.

“That bar is pretty much the centerpiece of the building,” Andrus said. “It’s a neat piece from the former mayor of Saugatuck himself. We’re really excited to have that.”

In addition to a pub and restaurant, the space will host a small brewhouse that will focus on sour beer production. Apparel made by The Mitten State will also be available for purchase on site.

Adding another location was a natural next step for The Mitten Brewing Company, Andrus said.

“We’ve spent the last 5 years making our brand as strong as possible, and we’ve been reinvesting in our processes and our people,” Andrus said. “What we do best, in my opinion, is our taproom experience and the way our staff interacts with our guests. We wanted to bring that to a new place. Saugatuck was a natural fit.”

Andrus and Trierweiler hired 21 local residents to run the Saugatuck location.

 

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Coldbreak Brewing Equipment started modestly: Boyd Culver, a home brewer working in the tool and die industry at the time, needed an immersion chiller. So he made one himself. He made another out of leftover materials and sold it on Ebay. That was the beginning of his small business.

coldbreak brewing

Chris Musil & Boyd Culver at City Built Brewing Company

Over the course of a decade, and with the help of Culver’s middle school friend Chris Musil, the company has evolved into much more. Coldbreak Brewing Equipment’s innovative jockey boxes have put them on the map for breweries large and small across the United States.

“We’ve branched out nationally, but we’ve really developed a stronghold on the industry in Michigan,” Culver said.

At the 2018 Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival, 62 of the more than 140 Michigan breweries in attendance poured from Coldbreak Brewing Equipment jockey boxes. Coldbreak’s Michigan clients include such breweries as Founders Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery and New Holland Brewing Company.

Around the country, Coldbreak jockey boxes are used by the likes of Alaskan Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery and Russian River Brewing Company, among others.

“It’s pretty cool that the two beers that battle back and forth every year for the best beer in America, Bell’s Two Hearted and Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, are both being poured through our boxes,” Culver said.

Culver and Musil started making jockey boxes when their friend Matt Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery, requested one.

“We purchased an example to follow and thought, ‘We can make this better,’” Musil said. “That’s kind of our philosophy whenever we make something.”

Culver and Musil started selling their jockey boxes to other breweries, and now the product accounts for over 70 percent of Coldbreak’s business, Musil said.

Coldbreak’s jockey box performs because it was designed with breweries in mind. It serves everyone from the brewer to the consumer.

“We use only stainless steel equipment, so a brewer doesn’t have to worry about corroded chrome fixtures affecting the taste of their beer,” Culver said. “We put our inlets and outlets on the same side, so when a festival bartender’s keg blows, they get to see that it’s blown before they get covered in beer.”

Coldbreak is the only company that offers custom wrapped jockey boxes, enabling breweries to showcase their brand. The design also supports heavy custom tap handles, so even a brewery’s marketing director can feel good about pouring from a Coldbreak jockey box.

Culver and Musil’s dedication to creating the best product for their customers comes from their relationships within the craft beer industry.

“We’re equipment guys, but we find ourselves in the mix a lot with brewers,” Culver said. Those friendships motivate Culver and Musil to constantly seek quality.

“People in the craft beer community take a lot of pride in their products, but they also have an incredible amount of humility,” Culver said. “Everybody is so willing to help each other, and that’s so fun to be around.”

Catch Coldbreak Brewing Equipment at the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, booth 3224, hosted by the Brewer’s Association in Nashville, April 30-May 3.

fermenta

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Fermenta: Michigan Women’s Craft Collective, is co-hosting a spirits event at New Holland Brewing‘s The Knickerbocker Sunday, April 22 from 2-4pm.

For this “Shaking & Sipping” hands-on event, attendees will learn how to properly taste gin, rum, and bourbon while also making historically significant cocktails with each base spirit.

The event is open to the public, welcoming both Fermenta members and non-members to participate and partake. Ticket price includes samples of each liquor, three cocktails attendees will prepare and a light snack.

Limited tickets are available for purchase here: https://shakeandsip.eventbrite.com

Prices are $25 for non-members and $20 for members.

With each event Fermenta hosts, the non-profit raises money towards their scholarship fund to further women’s education in the craft beverage industry. This allows members to apply for and attend workshops, classes, and seminars around the state.

 

About
Fermenta is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit trade group initiated by Michigan women, committed to diversity, camaraderie, networking, and education within the craft beverage industry. The organization hosts events with an educational focus and networking opportunities and provides a network that encourages conversation about the importance of diversifying the craft alcohol industry, ways to foster progress, and provide opportunities for a variety of voices and visions

 

Grand Rapids, Mich. — Early this spring, Harmony Hall will switch out their menu full of handmade sausages with one full of wood-fired pizzas.

The change responds to a demand Harmony Brewing Company Co-Founders and siblings Barry VanDyke, Jackson Arthur VanDyke and Heather VanDyke-Titus have received since they opened their brew pub’s second location in 2015.

harmony hall

Jackson Arthur VanDyke, Heather VanDyke-Titus, Barry VanDyke

“Since we’ve opened our doors at Harmony Hall, people have been saying, ‘Where’s your pizza?’,” said Barry VanDyke.

The Grand Rapids brew pub’s thin crust, wood-fired pizza is widely popular. It was named Fourth Best Pizza in Michigan by MLive twice and Best Pizza by Revue’s “Best of the West” Reader’s Poll twice.

Now customers will be able to get it on the west side of town, but with a twist that pays homage to Harmony Hall’s unique personality.

Harmony Hall’s new menu will share a selection of flagship pizzas with the Eastown location, along with a few of its own specialties. Where Harmony Brewing Company has its Eastown Folk Funk pizza, Harmony Hall will have a Stockbridge pizza “that has actually got mustard and kapusta on it, which sounds weird, but it’s delicious,” Barry VanDyke said.

Bringing pizzas to Harmony Hall means some big changes have to happen in the kitchen—and on the menu.

“Our pizza is famously wood-fired pizza, and according to code you can only have one fuel source underneath a single hood,” Barry VanDyke said. “Because we want to move to pizza, we have to unfortunately get rid of all our grills and our fryers and everything else.”

That means Harmony Hall won’t be serving its sausage dishes. But those flavors won’t disappear entirely.

“Chef Liza Marvin is riffing on some of the sausages that we had, so she’s got a bulgogi pizza and others,” Heather VanDyke-Titus said.

In addition to pizzas, the new menu will keep some of Harmony Hall’s favorite appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Harmony Hall’s kitchen will have to undergo some construction to accommodate the new wood-fired equipment, which is expected to take two weeks. Demo started on Mar. 19. The new menu is slated to launch Apr. 11, if all goes according to plan.

In the interim, Harmony Hall is serving a limited version of their sausage menu out of the prep kitchen, but the co-founders expect the inconvenience to be minimal.

“Liza is such a crazy hard worker that her limited version of the menu looks a lot like the full version of the menu,” Heather VanDyke-Titus said.

Once the kitchen is finished and the new menu is in place, customers can look forward to some previously impossible opportunities. People will be able to host events catered with Harmony pizza in Harmony Hall’s banquet room. And the staff will have more room to experiment.

“Having the two locations both provide the same product allows us to do a lot of new things, like handmade mozzarella and making our own sausage for the Italian sausage,” Barry VanDyke said.

Ultimately, the change means a more consistent brand for Harmony Brewing Company.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to unify what Harmony is all about and get down to the roots of we do, which is good, handmade from scratch food,” Barry VanDyke said. “This is what Harmony is: We’re pizza, we’re beer, and I think the customers are going to really respond well to it.”

 

gray skies distillery

Grand Rapids, Mich – Gray Skies Distillery will release their first straight bourbon whiskey March 22. It will be available for purchase exclusively in their downtown Grand Rapids tasting room. Subsequent releases beginning fall 2018 will be available through licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan via statewide distribution. Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey was aged in charred new, oak barrels for over two years and bottled at 90 proof. Following their Breakfast Rye and Single Malt Whiskey, Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the third American whiskey Gray Skies Distillery has released.

Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey, like all Gray Skies whiskey, is crafted from grain, double pot distilled, and aged in their Grand Rapids, MI distillery. Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey is truly a craft whiskey created from scratch in 500 gallon batches.

“Michigan Straight Bourbon Whiskey is simply named to highlight what it is – straight bourbon distilled and aged in Michigan” said Steve Vander Pol, co-owner of Gray Skies Distillery. “The straight designation signifies the bourbon was aged at least two years and has no additional flavors added. Grain, water, yeast, oak and time were the only ingredients used to create this exceptional whiskey. Our recipe is 70% corn, 15% rye and 15% malted barley creating a classic bourbon profile that uses time to balance grain with oak and produce hints of caramel and vanilla familiar to bourbon enthusiasts. The increased presence of barley in the recipe adds notes of coffee and chocolate that make for a versatile whiskey that drinks well neat and stands out in cocktails.”

“This is one of many whiskey releases planned in 2018,” said Vander Pol. “As our whiskey stock continues to mature we are excited to follow our straight bourbon with a straight rye release. The second batch of our Single Malt Whiskey was bottled in March and our popular Breakfast Rye returns this summer. We plan to follow Breakfast Rye with a rich maple flavored Breakfast Bourbon for the holidays.”

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 available in hundreds of licensed retailers, bars and restaurants around Michigan. Distribution is currently limited to Michigan but the distillery plans 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.

 


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