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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.”

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.”

 

With summer knocking on the door, Harmony Brewing is prepping for another busy season of thirsty beer lovers and hungry pizza fanatics.

To accommodate the summer surge, Harmony’s owners have begun the process of acquiring more space for the popular Eastown location.

According to co-owner, Barry Van Dyke, “We have been busting at the seams pretty much from day one in Eastown. This will allow us to continue doing all of the things that we’ve been really successful at with more elbow room for our customers and staff.”

The location in question is 1540 Lake Drive, which is currently home to a Subway franchise. On June 8, Harmony Brewing will attend a City Planning Meeting to finalize their plan. By Mid-June, the brewery aims to close the deal.

harmonyPlans for the new space include additional indoor seating, an expansion and improvement of the Beer Garden, and the addition of a second kitchen with the sole purpose of pizza carry-out and delivery.

Although the project is still in its early stages, there is already excitement brewing within Harmony management. To Barry, the expansion is necessary, exclaiming, “Eastown needs a kick ass beer garden!”

The expansion will also allow Harmony Brewing to deliver their award-winning pizza and crowlers of beer directly to customers.

Grand Rapids distillery, Long Road Distillers, will release a series of brand new whiskies made in partnership with four Grand Rapids breweries. They will be released each month over the next four months. The first in the line-up of the Long Road Beer City Whisky Series, Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky, will be available at the West Side distillery beginning at 4 pm on Tuesday, May 23, as part of the distillery’s 2 Year Anniversary Celebration.

longroad distillers

“We’re proud to be part of the craft beverage scene in Grand Rapids,” said Jon O’Connor, Co- Owner and Co-Founder of Long Road Distillers. “We credit the breweries in this City with laying the groundwork for folks like us to open up and be successful – they’ve earned us the title of Beer City USA and we wanted to create a product that celebrated the collaborative nature of the industry here.”

Grand Rapids has won the title of “Beer City USA” for several years running, and has also been named “Best Beer Town” and “Best Beer Scene” by USA TODAY readers. These titles are an acknowledgement of the many world-class breweries that call Grand Rapids home, but also a nod to the passionate beer lovers that support them.

The idea behind the Beer City Whisky Series stemmed from shared base ingredients between beer and whisky – namely, malted barley. To create the four whiskies in this series, Long Road acquired brewers mash from each brewery and distilled it into malt whisky on their 500 gallon Vendome Pot Still. After each beer was distilled into whisky, it was aged in new American Oak barrels for 12-24 months.

Long Road Distillers has partnered with four Grand Rapids breweries for the initial year of the Beer City Whisky Series and distilled some of their most popular beers: The Mitten Brewing Company (Mitten Country Strong IPA), Perrin Brewing Company (Perrin Black), Harmony Brewing Company (Harmony Black Squirrel Peated Porter), and Greyline Brewing Company (Greyline Solshine).

Each whisky will be released in-house at the distillery over the course of four months in extremely small batches ranging from 100 to 200 bottles per batch.

The first release in the series, Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky, will be available beginning at 4 pm on Tuesday, May 23 at Long Road’s 2 Year Anniversary Celebration. Up to 40 bottles of the whisky will be available for reservation for the public by signing up for a brief tour and tasting, guided by the production teams of Long Road and The Mitten, and will include a side-by-side tasting of Mitten Country Strong IPA and the Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky.

“We’re excited to share this collaborative spirit with others,” said Kyle VanStrien, Co-Owner and Co- Founder of Long Road. “There’s nothing better than working with friends to create something unique and new. I think these whiskies will excite everyone from the craft beer aficionado to the adventurous whisky drinker!”

 

Grand Rapids distillery, Long Road Distillers, will release a series of brand new whiskies made in partnership with four Grand Rapids breweries. They will be released each month over the next four months. The first in the line-up of the Long Road Beer City Whisky Series, Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky, will be available at the West Side distillery beginning at 4 pm on Tuesday, May 23, as part of the distillery’s 2 Year Anniversary Celebration.
longroad distillers
“We’re proud to be part of the craft beverage scene in Grand Rapids,” said Jon O’Connor, Co- Owner and Co-Founder of Long Road Distillers. “We credit the breweries in this City with laying the groundwork for folks like us to open up and be successful – they’ve earned us the title of Beer City USA and we wanted to create a product that celebrated the collaborative nature of the industry here.”
Grand Rapids has won the title of “Beer City USA” for several years running, and has also been named “Best Beer Town” and “Best Beer Scene” by USA TODAY readers. These titles are an acknowledgement of the many world-class breweries that call Grand Rapids home, but also a nod to the passionate beer lovers that support them.
The idea behind the Beer City Whisky Series stemmed from shared base ingredients between beer and whisky – namely, malted barley. To create the four whiskies in this series, Long Road acquired brewers mash from each brewery and distilled it into malt whisky on their 500 gallon Vendome Pot Still. After each beer was distilled into whisky, it was aged in new American Oak barrels for 12-24 months.
Long Road Distillers has partnered with four Grand Rapids breweries for the initial year of the Beer City Whisky Series and distilled some of their most popular beers: The Mitten Brewing Company (Mitten Country Strong IPA), Perrin Brewing Company (Perrin Black), Harmony Brewing Company (Harmony Black Squirrel Peated Porter), and Greyline Brewing Company (Greyline Solshine).
Each whisky will be released in-house at the distillery over the course of four months in extremely small batches ranging from 100 to 200 bottles per batch.
The first release in the series, Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky, will be available beginning at 4 pm on Tuesday, May 23 at Long Road’s 2 Year Anniversary Celebration. Up to 40 bottles of the whisky will be available for reservation for the public by signing up for a brief tour and tasting, guided by the production teams of Long Road and The Mitten, and will include a side-by-side tasting of Mitten Country Strong IPA and the Mitten Country Strong Malt Whisky.
“We’re excited to share this collaborative spirit with others,” said Kyle VanStrien, Co-Owner and Co- Founder of Long Road. “There’s nothing better than working with friends to create something unique and new. I think these whiskies will excite everyone from the craft beer aficionado to the adventurous whisky drinker!”
 

craft brewers conference

MittenBrew sent Jeff Rogers, Brewery Operations Manager at Harmony Brewing Company, to Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America® in Washington, D.C. to document the annual event from the lens of a first-time attendee. What follows is his experience, and a few recommendations to ensuring a successful show for those considering attending. MittenBrew edited some of Jeff’s reflections for clarity because let’s be honest—it’s hard to keep everything straight when you’ve got a beer in one hand and a selfie stick in the other.

craft brewers conference

Pre-planning

  • Unless you have absolutely zero agenda for attending, which would seem counterproductive and a disservice to yourself and the brewery you’re representing, plan ahead. Don’t wait until you arrive to make a game plan. You know what your brewery needs better than anyone else, so establish goals for yourself based on those needs, and create a hit list of what you want to accomplish.
  • The Craft Brewers Conference website and conference app can be your best friends, if you use them, and especially if you familiarize yourself with them before you go. Seriously, download the app. It’s free.
  • After registering for the conference, use your credentials to log in to the Online Planner. Here, you can build and customize your own personal agenda, adding anything you want to see, experience or remember, which you can then sync to your phone’s native calendar. You’ll likely have a few beers on the expo hall floor and after hours, so having your schedule in your pocket already mapped out will help when you get distracted from where you’re supposed to be, with whom, and when.
  • Conference-sanctioned brewery tours fill up and educational bootcamps sell out quickly. If any interest you, register ASAP.
  • Watch the weather when packing your suitcase, and don’t forget your walking shoes. The first question everyone will ask you is, “Where are you from?” Beat them to the punch, and wear a shirt with your brewery’s logo or home state on it. It creates an easy conversation starter, and it’s free advertising.
  • Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need.

Travel and Accommodations

  • If you’re not shy about bunking up with someone, share a hotel room, and split the cost. If the hotels closest to the conference book up, and they will, don’t forget about Airbnb options or other hospitality-share programs. If you’ve got friends and family in the conference city, ask to crash on their couch. It’ll save you cash, and leave more money for beer not distributed where you live. But, consider distance to the conference from where you’re staying because taxi, Uber, and Lyft fares will add up quickly. Either way, don’t cheat yourself on a solid night’s sleep.
  • Shoot to arrive by mid-day the first day of the conference (the day before the expo floor opens). This will give you time to beat the lines when picking up your credentials, get your bearings in the convention center, and attend the Welcome Reception that evening (which you need your credentials for anyway).

 

BrewExpo America

  • Do not underestimate the size of this conference and convention floor. There were over 13,000 people in attendance, and 900 vendor booths. It can be a little overwhelming, and you can only do so much at a time. Don’t try to tackle visiting every booth in one day. Stagger your days by breaking up the expo floor into chunks in between any seminars you attend.
  • Say this with me: “I’m not the only person on the floor.” Practice self-awareness. You will be surrounded by hundreds of people at any given moment, many of whom are walking with a purpose. Please, don’t stop in the middle of an aisle or major walkway to check your phone or stare off into space. When you do, and someone bumps into you, it’s not their fault. Also, just like the rules of the road, walk on the right.
  • Swag. Yes, it’s free. Yes, you can have one. But, if you take it, put it to honest use. Companies pay good money for the stuff they give away. If you know it’s going to end up in the bottom of a drawer or in the garbage when you get home, save that company some money and yourself the hassle of hauling it around for the week.
  • Go early, and beat the rush. The expo floor generally tends to be a little quiet in the morning because there’s no shortage of industry parties at night that may or may not influence one’s ability to roll out of bed before noon the morning after. Don’t waste your mornings by getting wasted at night. This shouldn’t be amateur hour. We’re trained professionals.

 

 

Seminars

  • Including Sponsored Demonstrations, there were approximately 70 seminars covering 11 different educational tracks. You will miss some. If you’re attending with anyone else from your brewery, don’t all sit in the same seminars—split them up so you can be in two places at once. Compare notes later over beers.
  • Don’t let this be an excuse to not attend the seminars, but if you do miss any, their content and presentation slides are pushed out to attendees after the conference. Still, you’ll get valuable insight by sitting in the seminars live. Bring a pen, and take notes (throughout the whole conference). It’ll help you remember the nuances of what you learn, who you meet, and what you talked about. Things will get fuzzy.
  • Don’t hog the mic. Engage and ask questions. Don’t let your brewery’s unique anomaly of a problem that’s hyper specific you prevent others from getting their questions answered, too. We all remember that kid in class who raised his hand so he could repeat what the instructor just said, rephrasing it to look smart. Don’t be that guy either.

 

Eating and Drinking

  • There are beer stations everywhere. You don’t have to look or go far to sample an array of beers from all over the U.S. To keep things on the up-and-up on the expo floor, beers were understandably restricted to 2 oz. pours. It might seem cheap at first, but you’ll be thankful for it after three days in, and dozens of samples later.
  • You know what the most important meal of the day is. Eat it. It probably changes somewhat with the destination city and venue, but lines for food during peak lunch hours were brutal. Frustratingly long. Plan accordingly. Pack a protein bar or other snack each day to tide you over until you’re able to sit down and enjoy a meal. You’re going to be drinking, so don’t do it on an empty stomach, unless you want to miss the evening festivities and disappoint your colleagues who have to worry about getting you back to the hotel early.
  • During the first two days of the expo, there were multiple sponsored hospitality areas with beer, light food, and different activities or games from 2:30 p.m – 5:00 p.m. Conquer whatever essential business you might have before then, and spend these couple hours unwinding, making new connections, and batching whatever you’ve done that day.

 

 

After-parties

  • When you register for the conference, RSVP for the opening night’s Welcome Reception. This sold out long before the conference, and there’s a reason why. The host venue is usually pretty swanky—this year it was held at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Free beer from about 40 different breweries and fancy hors d’oeuvres make this event a no-brainer. However, food had a tendency to run out fast. So, if you go hungry, arrive early. Trim your neck hair, and put on a nice shirt.
  • There are sanctioned “official” off-site parties nightly. See the conference program for details on admission (typically complimentary with your conference credentials or via advance guest list sign-up). These will be busy, too. 13,000 people are going to go somewhere after the conference each day, and they’re probably going to go where the beer is free, so expect lines. Be polite when the hosts ask for your name or proof of RSVP. If you have to demand, “Don’t you know who I am?”, the answer is probably “No.”  
  • There are also dozens of other happy hours, meetups, and hosted parties by different breweries and state guilds. They’re not hard to find, and worth going to. You can do some of your best networking and learning during these informal socials. Talk to attendees, ask what they’re up to and where they’re going. You’ll have no problem finding a party that’s your speed.

 

 

After the Conference

  • You know all those business cards you collected? Use ‘em. At the very least, send those people a courtesy email thanking them for their time and whatever value they gave you. Your ride or flight home is a great time to draft that correspondence. Hit “Send” on those emails within one week of getting back to work so you’re still fresh in their minds.
  • Stay in touch with the people you met, traveled with, and partied next to. Despite the impressive size and attendance of the conference, our industry is still smaller and more intimate than you think. Word travels fast, and so do reputations. Take care of yourself, treat those you meet with respect, and pass along referrals even if they don’t benefit you right away. Karma is a thing, and—if you do it right—the Craft Brewers Conference is the place to share it, and receive it.

We’ll see you next year in Nashville, TN. Cheers!

 

Photography: Steph Harding & Jeff Rogers

 

harmony brewingOn Saturday, February 4 Harmony Brewing Company will celebrate its fifth year of being in business with a party  and a limited edition bottle release of their annual brew ‘Birthday Barleywine’.  Other festivities  include an hour of family fun from 12:30-1:30  with a new  brunch menu and popular kid friendly magician and comedian, PJ Weber. The celebration will continue into the night with the Vinyl Night All Stars featuring a lineup of the most popular DJ’s from Harmony’s weekly event, Vinyl Thursday.

Siblings Heather Van Dyke-Titus, Barry Van Dyke and Jackson Van Dyke opened Harmony Brewing Company in February 2012. The popular Eastown brewpub quickly became a local favorite. Overwhelming demand required the Van Dyke’s to expand production and open a second location, Harmony Hall on Grand Rapids’ West Side.

 

Since opening, Harmony has been recognized for its excellent wood fired pizza, beer, leadership on various community initiatives, and volunteer work.

Harmony Brewing Company has received numerous awards:

Best Pizza in Grand Rapids, Revue Magazine-2016

Fourth best Pizza in Michigan, M-Live-2013 & 2016

On-The–Town, Gold Townie Best Pizza in Grand Rapids -2014

On-The-Town, Silver Townie Best Brewery in Grand Rapids-2014,

Best Neighborhood Pint, Neighborhood Business Alliance-2012,

Grand Award for excellence, Neighborhood Business Alliance-2012,

Snail of Approval, Slow Food West Michigan-2014

 

 

Co-owner, Jackson Van Dyke says, “It’s been an amazing five years. Opening Harmony gave us the opportunity to pursue things that we’re truly passionate about: inventive and creative beer,  simple but delicious food and being a part of building our community and city.  Since we’ve opened, Harmony has been a part of  and witnessed, Grand Rapids being recognized as Beer City USA, a national and even global beer destination.  It’s been an honor to be a founding member and President of the Beer City Brewers Guild.  I appreciate the opportunity to help grow and expand Grand Rapid’s Beer culture and Harmony’s place in it. “

 

harmony brewers

The fourth and final beer in Harmony Brewing Company’s popular wood aged sour beer program will be released on Wednesday November 2nd.  The “Old Spot” sour black saison will be sold in wax dipped, serialized 750 ml bottles.  

“Old Spot” is a rich black saison ale that was aged in a blend of mead and bourbon barrels.   Each barrel was inoculated with our proprietary blend of wild souring agents.  Over the course of the summer, a wide range of flavors developed.  The blending of the barrels created a deeply complex beer with notes of vanilla bean, spiced rum, roasted malts, and tootsie pops.  

harmony brewersThe bottle release will happen as part of Harmony’s inaugural beer geek-out event, “The Peculiar Pint.”  The Peculiar Pint will take place on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 7-10pm, and will be a gathering place for people who aren’t ashamed to go full on beer nerd. Hosted by Ben Isbell, Harmony’s head brewer, each event will provide a strange brew as a central focal point.  On November 2nd, the focus will be on “Old Spot” and the sour barrel brewing process.  Guests will have a chance to taste the individual flavors of the different sour barrels that made up “Old Spot” alongside the blended final product.  Brewers will be on hand to give in depth technical information about the burgeoning craft of sour beer creation.

These bottles of “Old Spot” are extremely limited! The first three beers in this series sold out in bottles within 24 hours.

 

 


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