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Grand Rapids, Mich — Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply, an Ada-based brewery and home brew supply shop, is bringing their experience-centric philosophy on beer to a larger audience.

Owner Matt Michiels announced that the brewery plans to expand to a larger facility, and is considering the MC Sports store located at Plainfield Avenue and I-96. Gravel Bottom will present plans to the city for approval on October 12.

The new 18,000-square-foot facility would house a 15-barrel brewing system, canning line, homebrew supply shop, taproom and restaurant. Visitors to the new space would also be able to brew beer on the premises and rent homebrew equipment.

“The whole idea is to have a place where people can come and really experience craft brewing,” Michiels said. Gravel Bottom’s visitors could participate in brewing and tasting classes as well as experience the entire brewing process with Grand Rapids’ first brew-on-premise facility.

The new restaurant would also allow Gravel Bottom to explore pairing food with their beers.

“Our idea is to bring the creativity and innovation into the food just like we do with the beer,” Michiels said.

The new facility does not mean the brewery is abandoning its Ada roots. Gravel Bottom has already started building in Ada’s new development, where the brewery will continue brewing the exciting and creative beers they are known for on an upgraded three-barrel brewing system. This location will expand Gravel Bottom’s taproom capacity and also offer small plates and quick lunches.

“We are excited for Ada’s future and enjoy being part of this community,”Michiels said.

The styles produced in Ada would also be available at the Plainfield location, enabling both locations to offer over 18 beers on tap.

“We like to be innovative and creative and challenge style guidelines to create fun, exciting and balanced beers,” said Michiels. “That’s what gets all of us up in the morning.”

Michiels hopes the new location in Plainfield will enable Gravel Bottom to reach a larger audience.

“Right now, we can’t offer our beer outside of Ada, because we can’t produce enough,” Michiels said. “This allows us to take Gravel Bottom into distribution.”

Plans for the Plainfield location are early in the process and pending city approval. Michiels hopes to begin construction between December 2017 and February 2018.

gravel bottom

Ada, Michigan  Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply today announced plans to relocate to a newly constructed building at 452 Ada Drive, near the corner of Ada Drive and Fulton Street in Ada Michigan, immediately adjacent to the new Kingma’s Market. Gravel Bottom’s new facility will feature a larger taproom, expanded tap offerings, food and extensive on-site brewery capacity. Gravel Bottom will continue operations at 418 Ada Drive until their new site is complete by the end of the year.

The new, 2,500-square-foot brewery will include a 75-seat indoor taproom and an outdoor patio offering up to 50 seats. Gravel Bottom will also expand hours of operation offering quick lunches and small-plate food pairings for up to a dozen new taps.

“We have built a great following in Ada and look forward to helping make Ada a destination as we continue to support local events like Beers at the Bridge, Brats and Bonfires and the Ada Chili Cook-Off.” said Matt Michiels, owner, Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply. The new space will give Gravel Bottom the opportunity to upgrade its brewing equipment and offer a wider variety of its innovative craft beer selections. “We are adding a small kitchen as well which will allow us the opportunity to pair our beers with food and provide our customers with an enhanced craft beer experience,” said Michiels.

Gravel Bottom is also expanding its operations and is currently researching locations closer to Grand Rapids “I am excited to unveil even more details on our growing production plans in the next 4 to 6 weeks as they are put in place, and I look forward to sharing how they will enhance the Beer City experience” said Michiels.

Michiels moved back to Michigan in 2011 and opened Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in 2013 creating the region’s first craft brewery and home brew supply store. Gravel Bottom’s announcement joins a growing number of Ada Village shops, restaurants, and new businesses as Ada’s redevelopment continues.

 

For hop heads, the months of September and October become a palate-testing quasi-holiday.

Many breweries are releasing their hop-heavy beers this time of year as the hop harvest has come to fruition. Of the four main ingredients in craft beer, none boast the rabid following of hops, or humulus lupulus. West Michigan Beer Tours, in collaboration with JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Hop Yard of Kent County, will showcase some of the adventurous flavors of the season with the Hop Harvest Beer Tour on Saturday, Aug. 5.

The tour takes place near the peak of hop harvest season when farms are in full picking and processing mode. It will begin with registration from noon to 1 p.m. at the JW Marriott, where guests are encouraged to order a drink and lunch at the Six.One.Six. The bus will depart at 1 p.m. with visits to Rockford Brewing Co., the Hopyards of Kent County — the family-owned hop farm in Greenville — and Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in Ada.

Guests will receive a pint or samples, as well as a meet-and-greet or production tour, at the two brewery stops as part of the tour. We’ll learn more about Michigan’s burgeoning hop industry and how breweries utilize hops to achieve a variety of flavors and aromas.

The visit to the Greenville hop farm will be led by owner Pam Miller. The visit includes a sensory test, tour of harvesting facility and a tasting of local beer using the farm’s hops.

The JW Marriott’s Beer City USA Package will also be available for guests opting for overnight accommodations.

For more information, go to www.westmichiganbeertours.com.

 

home brew league

If you heard the name “Home Brew League” you might think it was some kind of summer softball showdown or a group of guys playing fantasy football. But for Boyd Culver and Chris Musil, owners of Coldbreak Brewing Equipment in Cedar Springs, the Home Brew League is a revolutionary idea to test the skills and bring together some of the best home beer brewers in Michigan. The inaugural competition they’ve created is a one-of-a-kind brewing challenge that stretches the skill of the participants and has them producing beer that rivals your local microbrew favorites.­

“The way we do it, it’s the only one like this in the country,” proclaims Musil. “There’s 32 teams and each division has 8 teams. Each team has 4-6 homebrewers.” Unlike other brewing competitions, all 32 teams submit the same style of beer for each round of the tournament. Culver adds, “There’s homebrew competitions all over the place all the time, but there’s definitely not one like this. There’s 32 teams all brewing the same beer.”

The league’s “season” stretches from the beginning of May through the end of October. Throughout the season, there are seven different events where teams compete with a new variety. The teams who rack up the most wins during the season then move into the “playoffs,” where one set of talented brewers will be crowned the first ever Home Brew League Champion.

This unique setup quickly captured the interests of local brewers who are anxious to see how their beer measures up. “Having these monthly competitions is really helping me refine my palate when I’m drinking a beer and what to look for when I’m creating my recipes. Plus, I’ve been brewing like crazy. It’s keeping me on my toes,” says John Wesorick, a member of a team known as “The Brew-Tang Clan.”

The idea for the Home Brew League came to Boyd and Chris as they were looking to create a fun promotion for their store, Coldbreak Brewing Equipment. They convinced three other local brewing suppliers, Siciliano’s Market, O’Connors Homebrew Supply, and Gravel Bottom Brewery and Supply, to sign on as sponsors. They were overwhelmed when it was time for brewers to sign up. “We didn’t think we were going to fill it up at all, and then it sold out in 24 hours,” said Culver. “The Siciliano’s division sold out in just 8 minutes.”

Although the event has already proven to be a winner for the stores business-wise, Musil explains that it’s not just about creating revenue. “It’s not all about us. It’s about getting everybody together. It’s about the community.” Culver adds, “That’s the cool thing, there’s four stores that are essentially competitors, all joining together for this great event.”

The way the league is organized isn’t the only unique aspect. The Home Brew League is also putting its competitors’ brewing knowledge to the test with some uncommon beer varieties. The first event in May required each team to brew a British Golden Ale. If you’re not sure what that is, you’re not alone. Brewer Rick VandeKopple says he had never even heard of it before. “There’s a lot of reading done online to find out, O.K., what’s this style like? It was all a new experience to try and build this recipe. It’s kind of a cool way to be forced to branch out,” said VandeKopple.

home brew league

Even the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) judges for the event were entering new territory. “This was a new style for me,” said Jim Halliberger, a judge who volunteered to offer his expertise. “I’ve been judging beers 20 years, and I’ve never seen a competition like this. To do a single style every month for several months…it’s just a really different idea.” The other beer varieties for this season include Scottish Heavy, Dunkles Weissbier, Pre-Prohibition Porter, Marzen, White IPA, and Foreign Extra Stout. “The styles are all something that people usually wouldn’t brew,” Culver explains. “And every month we have one mandatory ingredient, and most of them are Michigan ingredients.”

There are prizes for the winning teams after each event, but the last team standing in December will get to brew 15 barrels of their championship beer at Cedar Springs Brewing Company and have it served on tap. That’s an enviable prize, but some competitors say they’re only doing it for fun and for the expert feedback to help them become better brewers. “We thought it’d be kind of a fun way to take our beer making to the next level,” said Rick VandeKopple. “The judges let me know about a little bit of an off flavor they found, so that helps me get my brewing level up so that I can brew a better beer.” One of those judges, Mark Thomson, believes their feedback and these competitions are doing exactly that. “I expect there to be a lot of good beer. I think overall, the quality has gone way up in the ten years I’ve been tasting home brews,” said Thomson.

Culver and Musil agree that the entire homebrew community is on the rise, both in terms of sheer numbers and in terms of quality. And with the public’s appetite for craft brew rising right along with it, any one of these competitors could become another successful brewing entrepreneur. “The majority of brewers at one point were homebrewers,” claims Culver. “Brewers are like guitar players. We don’t know who the greatest guitar player is to ever hit the big stage, and it’s the same concept with homebrewers. I know a guy who won’t leave his basement who makes the best beer I’ve ever had.”

To learn more about the Home Brew League or Coldbreak Brewing Equipment log on:

www.coldbreakbrewing.com

www.homebrewleague.us

 

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KENT COUNTY – Calling all book-loving home brewers: Kent District Library (KDL) has a contest that seeks to combine the passions of reading and brewing.

As part of the KDaLe beer series, KDL and Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply are teaming up to host the “Book-Inspired Brewing” home brewing contest.

The contest asks brewers to craft a beverage inspired by their favorite book or author. In a press release, KDL offered some examples:

Gone Girl Coffee Stout – Dark and caffeinated, this stout, like the book, will keep you up all night. Just like Amy, this beer is smooth, controlled and will leave you wishing for a little bit more.

Catcher in the Rye Beer – It takes a special beer to match the dryness of Holden Caulfield. Bitter and crisp on the tongue, this brew mimes the acerbic style of the teenage protagonist. Not for phonies!

Alice’s Adventures in Weizenbier – Golden as the shiny-haired troublemaker, this beer has a malty sweetness and an unsuspecting hint of banana. Curiousier and curiousier, this beer throws flavors at you faster than the White Rabbit runs. Don’t be late trying this brew!

Poe Stout – A dark and bitter brew guaranteed to put you on edge.

Kinsella Cider – Light and bubbly, crisp and sweet, this cider is best shared with friends and over good stories.

The entries will be judged for flavor, aroma, mouthfeel and appearance as well as how well the beverage fits the theme submitted. There will be two rounds of judging, first by Gravel Bottom staff, KDL staff, local homebrewers and industry professionals, and then by professional brewers and local cicerones.

The winner will get to brew his or her beer on Gravel Bottom’s professional system and later release it at the KDaLe Wrap-Up Party. The winner’s name will be engraved on the KDaLe homebrew trophy, and the top three finalists will receive a home brewer’s prize basket.

Register for the competition before Dec. 4. Twelve-ounce beer samples must be submitted at Gravel Bottom on or before Jan. 15. The winner will be announced Jan. 19 and the Wrap-Up Party will be hosted Feb. 24.

For more information and rules, visit the KDaLe website.

ADA – Veteran homebrewers, novices, and people-who-just-want-to-drink-beer-outside alike are invited to the first Learn To Homebrew Day hosted at Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply.

The brewery and homebrew supply shop is bringing the American Homebrewer’s Association (AHA) event to Ada Nov. 7.

The free event will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include at least nine industry professionals hosting discussions about their specialties. The topics are as broad as the whole process of homebrewing and as specific as yeast health.

Nine homebrewers have also been invited to bring their equipment on premise to demonstrate their personal processes. Throughout the day, the brewers will make the same recipe on their own systems as attendees look on.

“Some of these guys go far out; it’s pretty cool to see,” said Chrissy Walker, homebrew supply manager at Gravel Bottom. “Then you have other people who are just going to bring their little burner and a little pot.”

In addition to the educational parts of the event, attendees will be able to enter a raffle and the store will be hosting a one-day fall sale on homebrewing equipment.

Walker emphasized that the event isn’t just for veteran and novice homebrewers—it’s for anyone who wants to know more about beer.

“I think the more knowledge we can get out there on how to properly taste beer and what goes into brewing beer, the more you’re going to enjoy it,” said Walker.

Matt Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom, said he felt the goals of AHA’s Learn to Homebrew event mirror Gravel Bottom’s mission statement.

“That’s really what we’re trying to do. Bring to people the experience of brewing, and a creative environment where you can learn about the sport,” said Michiels.

“That’s how it all started in my backyard—brewing beer with my friends and drinking the beer,” he said. “I’m excited to have that environment here.”

Whether they go to learn about the art (or science, or “sport,” as Michiels would have it) of homebrewing or just to enjoy the camaraderie in the brewing community, Walker has one warning for potential attendees:

“Caution: brewing does cause more friends,” she laughed. “I’m gonna throw that out there.”