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Ada, Mich. — Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery will open the doors to its new facility as part of the Ada Village redevelopment project on May 11, 2018.

The new space is larger, but it still offers a familiar, cozy feel the neighborhood brewery proudly evoked before the renovations.

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“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into making this feel similar to what the other Gravel Bottom was: welcoming and comfortable,” said Owner Matt Michiels.

The new building boasts a suite of upgrades. The new bar offers 20 taps, which means mainstays can remain while Gravel Bottom’s ever expanding cast of experimental styles rotate.

“That gives us the opportunity to offer that variety that you’re used to here,” Michiels said.

Gravel Bottom’s brewing equipment has also received an upgrade. The new location will have a new brite tank and new 3- and 7-barrel jacketed fermenters, enabling brewers to experiment with temperature and larger batches.

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“This was the opportunity to upgrade our equipment so we can brew more styles and be even more creative,” Michiels said. “And we’re able to brew bigger batches of some of those mainstays.”

“Gravel Bottom has become a well-known pillar of the Ada business community and we’re excited about their move,” said George Haga, Ada Township supervisor. “Their new home and highly-visible location on Ada Drive are another example of the transformation that is taking place in the Envision Ada project.”

“It’s very important for us to be a part of this community. This is where we started. And it’s exciting to have this chance for renewal,” Michiels said.

The homebrew shop will not be integrated into this new space, Michiels said. But customers can look forward to a new kitchen serving meals designed by Chef Eric Benedict. The menu will feature locally sourced, seasonally influenced dishes, including small plates designed to pair with Gravel Bottom beers.

The brewery is also acquiring a vintner’s license, meaning customers can look forward to wines, meads and ciders both made by Gravel Bottom and wholesaled in.

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The new building brings some exciting changes, Michiels said, but it’s also a renewed declaration of the brewery’s original values.

“When I first started Gravel Bottom, this was a business plan of lifestyle. I wanted to be part of a small community,” Michiels said. “We were able to come into Ada and really make a positive impact in this community before this development happened.”

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.

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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.

 

ADA — Cricket noises, bugged eyes and a blank stare encompass the reaction given to me when asked if my mother would like to brew a beer together for Mother’s Day.

No comprehension, and all fear.

Little does my mother know that there is a way to brew beer that literally everyone can do.

Introducing extract home brewing,

Brewing beer is often thought as a process that is way too complicated and too time consuming. However, extract home brewing is the answer to less time, a less complicated process and minimal space solutions.

Everything literally fits in one box and can be done in anyone’s kitchen. And you don’t need to necessarily know the science behind what is happening. If you can follow the directions to an Easy Bake Oven, you can brew an extract home beer.

But where can you find the kits? Look no further than Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply in Ada.

Manager of the home brew shop supply part of Gravel Bottom, Chrissy Walker, hosts extract brewing events each month.

“The method behind my madness and my class — which is the kitchen brewing class — is more of the extract brewing because with extract brewing you don’t need as much space…is so touchable, so easy, like cooking, like baking, following directions and so easy,” she says.

“It has opened the eyes of so many people in the area, just because it is something you can do.”

Walker’s second kitchen brewing class is slated for May 30. A separate all-grain brew class is being hosted this Saturday.

“When people start asking too many questions, I like to remind them that this isn’t what it is about. Have fun with this! What I really enjoy seeing is moms and daughters just getting into it together. They don’t feel intimidated together and they really learn from one another,” Walker continues.

And if your nudge into the world of brewing continues, Gravel Bottom carries not only the extract brewing kits — but everything else you may possibly need to brew an award-winning homebrew.

There is a large wall of pre-made kits to pick your base. After you pick the base meander over to the flavor corner: Pick from purees, herbs, spices, flavors and oak chips to play around with to create your masterpiece. There is no wrong pick. You can even play around with cacao nibs and dried worm blood, while asking the Gravel Bottom team for assistance.

“I really enjoy seeing people’s eyes light up when I am talking to them,” says Walker.

If you like a specific Gravel Bottom beer on tap, you can also get a box of all the ingredients, plus the recipe used.

So grab your mother and get to work. Even if she’s not the beer type of gal, your mother will appreciate doing something with you, learning together and creating libatious memories.

And remember, like Chrissy says, “You don’t need to shut yourself off from the world. Do it at home, turn the TV on, blast the music and have fun!”

ADA — Matthew Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply, opened up his pub with one simple goal in mind — creating a space that is conducive to connectedness and making new friends over a pint — either brewing or drinking that pint.

Gravel Bottom is more than just a brewery — it’s a thriving homebrew shop that has been embraced by Ada residents and those who want to explore the world of homebrewing at all levels — novice or expert.

The concept for Gravel Bottom was always a combination of both brewery and homebrew shop, but not at the level it ended up becoming. “In the original business plan, we only had a 1/2 bbl brew house. However after moving back to Grand Rapids and experiencing West Michigan’s craft beer renaissance, it was clear we needed a bigger brew house to keep up with demand.”

Settling on a 3 bbl brew house provided a big enough a space big enough to support demand, but still small enough to experiment and play.

Play is important, and homebrewing is incorporated into the tavern — six ever changing taps provide customers a diverse range of styles and experimental beers. “One of those taps is always a homebrew recipe which is open source to anyone who wants to brew it or tweak it to fit their pallet better,” Michiels shares.

At the homebrewing shop itself, Michiels prides himself on having all the necessary equipment, supplies and ingredients to create a perfect beer. It carries a multitude of different varieties of grains, hops and yeast. The brewers who work at Gravel Bottom have definitely increased the selection options as well, because they are junkies for new ingredients to play around with.

Home brewers are a big influence on Gravel Bottom. Ada is a small town, and people become regulars, neighbors become friends. Michiels tells MittenBrew a story about one of the first Home Brewers to make a guest appearance on tap at Gravel Bottom — John Weicherchess.

“John is a neighbor of mine who showed up at my house as soon as he heard I was putting in a Craft Brewery & Supply. So, of course, I offered to take him down to the brewery and show him around. At the time the place was pretty tore up, but I figure it would be a cool place to have a couple pints of his (and Steve Waakes’) home brew. After the first pint, he grabbed the jackhammer and started helping me break up the concrete floor for our plumbing. Having fun and making new friends is why I opened this place. I could not have picked a better town and I watch this same story play out regularly. This story is also one of the things that inspired us to always have at least one home brew recipe on tap.”

Michiels and his staff are all brewers, bartenders and shopkeepers at Gravel Bottom. A well-rounded bunch, anyone can help you with anything you may need.

As for the beginning brewer? Michiels has some collective tips and tricks for getting started.

“It’s like anything you want to get better at. The more you do it, the more you will learn. You begin to hone in your processes, and each time you brew it gives you the opportunity to experiment with new ingredients or tweak a recipe. Don’t overthink your recipes — take great notes and be open to new ideas and feedback. You’ll be surprised how easy and fun it is to create your ideal beer,” he said.

“And GBCB is always here to help — feel free to bring in a sample for feedback and don’t hesitate to ask our brewers about anything you want to understand better.”

GRAND RAPIDS — It’s the time of year for the second annual Brewers Grove event. I’ve had the chance to try four of the 24 tree beers at the Brewers Grove kickoff party, held Friday at Harmony Brewing Company.

All of these beers, in addition to the 20 others available, will be on tap at participating breweries through Sept. 12. All of the beers have some sort of interpretation around the idea of trees, with each brewery using its own creativeness to work this idea into a beer.

Harmony Brewing Sumac Attack, 5.5% ABV

A cloudy brew sits before me that looks just like apple cider. Hints of ruby red highlights appear among the dark amber liquid. It has a creamy mouthfeel, but with an excellent acidic tang throughout. This finishes bright and slightly tart.

I detect subtle notes of lemon zest, clove, and a vegetal character in the flavor. Banana notes that are in the background and latch onto that creamy mouthfeel, enhancing each other. The malt character is overpowered by the acidic tang, but does still come through as subtle bread notes.

In the nose this beer comes to me as pear and apple with just a little dab of bread forward malt.

White Flame Nut Job, 5.5% ABV

A pitch black beer with a tan head. Upon tasting, I detect a thin body and overall mouthfeel. It feels perhaps thinner than one would expect from such a robust looking brew. In the nose I smell burnt grain/toast and this carries into the flavor as well. I’m also detecting a slight nuttiness — perhaps walnuts — right before the finish.

Despite the foreboding appearance, this beer is extremely sessionable, though pretty one-dimensional. A more diversified grain bill might have given this beer a bit more complexity. Giving it a slight creamy character and playing more on the nuttiness of it would be to their advantage. Despite the fact that it is playing on one note, that feature would make it a pretty good pairing with french vanilla ice cream. It would add that roasted quality but wouldn’t overpower the somewhat delicate nature of the vanilla and would instead allow it to shine through.

Brewery Vivant Devastation: Bourbon Barrel Aged Belgian Style DIPA, 9.3% ABV

A very slight haziness in the beer and white head sit on top of the burnished gold to light amber colored liquid. The flavor includes exceptionally strong notes of bourbon with a bit of vanilla. The light spice character is reminiscent of clove. In the aroma I detect mango and very ripe peach, along with strong vanilla and a punch of Bourbon.

The brew drinks quite hot and has medium-high carbonation levels. The sweet and boozy character sticks to the roof of the mouth. In the finish I get that strike of hot booziness as well as a hint of dark cherry while the vanilla lingers.

Gravel Bottom Cedarino: Cedar Pale Ale, 7.1% ABV

The beer has dropped very bright and is a perfect light amber/honey brown color. There are subtle notes of sweet cedar, honey and bread on the nose and an almost rye grain-like spicy character that moves all the way into the finish.

I have confirmed with the brewer that there is in fact no rye in the grain bill, but the way the America hop varieties and the Spanish cedar interact it causes a spicy and biting character (similar to rye) for my tongue.

Both the hops and the cedar are working well together to create new flavors. I applaud the close attention the brewer paid to this interaction because it’s not easy to do. The mouthfeel is also smooth and silky all the way until the medium dryness in the finish. Besides the cedar, I detect resin, pine-forward American hops and granola in the flavor, but it’s more cedar-like and hop forward in the nose. Overall this is well balanced and is just begging to be paired with food.

GRAND RAPIDS — Upon entering its fourth year as the Summer Beer Fest in John Ball Park, the WGRD team has admittedly revamped the whole concept behind the project.

The festival is now not only a charity event for the West Grand Neighborhood Organization, but it also has a new goal of “Trying to educate all of our markets with beer”, according to the live events manager, Angela Paasche.

“You do an event because you want to entertain, but also to educate,” said Paasche.

It certainly shows, even to newcomers to Grand Rapids such as myself.

The day kicked off with judging several beers coming from not only Michigan, but also Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont and Oregon.

Once the results were submitted, I ventured my way around the festival as guests began trickling in. Throughout the day delicious BBQ smoke was wafting through the air as hundreds of patrons tucked themselves under the large tents to suck down a few ounces at a time of delicious brews.

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Among the various beers that I consumed, I particularly enjoyed ingesting Crankers Brewing Company’s Ambrosia Honey Kölsch, Unruly Brewing Company’s Oats and Hoes, Griffin Claw Brewing Company’s Norm’s Gateway Session IPA and Gravel Bottom Brewing Company’s S’mores Stout.

“This is my first time (at Summer Beer Fest),” said Gravel Bottom owner Matt Michiels.“I wanted to be a part of the Grand Rapids beer scene and obviously we’ve got a lot our fellow brewers out here so I wanted to be a part of that…We have such a tight knit community of brewers here that, this is family, to be out here with all of them.”

Gravel Bottom also submitted several intriguing beer options in the beer contest — the Guava IPA, designed by home brewer Cody Dalton, the Coldbreak Pale Ale and the S’mores Stout.

“We really try to experiment with our beer often…You’re always going to find new stuff on tap at our place,” said Michiels.

Overall it was a beautiful day for a festival and the laid back atmosphere and good times vibe kept this tidy event rolling for hours. I genuinely look forward to attending again next year and observing how this Summer Beer Fest grows in their goal of beer education and the simple idea of having a good time with friends.

ADA — Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery served for the very first time on Saturday, at its Ada Drive location. The brewpub served roughly 1,000 pints on that day alone, and anticipates more the coming weeks.

Owner, operator and long time homebrewer, Matt Michiels began working on his idea for a homebrew shop around five years ago. By that time he had been brewing his own beer for more than a decade, and decided during his time as a stay-at-home dad that it was time to go back to work, but not in a way that he had before. Previously, Michiels worked in finance and accounting, but felt that returning to the corporate world was less than ideal.

The brewpub served five different beers ranging from a Belgian wit, to a porter with Michigan maple syrup, to a citrusy IPA. A Black IPA proved to be a rather popular choice on Saturday, and the Pale Ale stood its ground as well. Plans for future beers include many styles of beer including sour ales, experimental ales and even some rye and wheat whiskey barrel aged selections, too.

Originally, the brewpub was formulated as much more of a homebrew shop with a 15-gallon pilot system for experimental batches that local homebrewers could enjoy part of the way through their trip to gather supplies or ingredients. However, when Michiels began to analyze the Grand Rapids area market, he quickly realized that the town was ready for a much larger, 100-gallon batch size.

Gravel Bottom is now a place that has something for the beer lover, the brewer and everything in between. Classes and seminars are offered on a wide range of topics, and many of the recipes that are served at the brewpub will be available for purchase in a homebrew-sized ingredient kit.

Additionally, the brewpub will feature recipes from local homebrewers. The first featured recipe — a Grapefruit IPA — is brewed exclusively with hops, barley, yeast and water, but packs a very distinct grapefruit aroma.

While not open yet, the homebrew shop contains a rather wide variety of ingredients, and is stocked with much of the tools and equipment required to make beer at home.

Michiels stated that distribution and bottling of their beer is not part of the plan for the future of Gravel Bottom, but their most valued goal is “to serve the local community in the form of an experiential place to try what’s on tap, and to learn the art of brewing beer.”

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply is closed Sunday through Tuesday, but Michiels anticipates expanding their hours in the near future.


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