GRAND RAPIDS — When one thinks of trees and beers, the barrel aging process might come to mind. Or, perhaps the hop growing community. What you wouldn’t immediately think of is 18 breweries teaming up to plant several trees throughout a community.

But that’s just what’s underway in the Greater Grand Rapids area.

Members of the Grand Rapids Society of Beer (GRSOB) have teamed up to produce tree-themed beers, different for each brewery, but all with the same goal — to raise money for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

“I think it’s really a good opportunity for us to give back to the community,” said Bob Bonga, owner of Jaden James Brewery.

Bonga’s Little Full Lota Sap (6.4% ABV) — a play on the famous Christmas classic, “Christmas Vacation” — is an ale with hints of pine and citrus. Featuring a moderate amount of bitterness, this ale has some IPA-like qualities, but is produced for the masses.

“We’ve been doing almost all of the collaborations that the Society of Beers have done,” said Bonga. “It’s fun, it adds a really nice, friendly challenge amongst the group.”

Larger breweries have gotten into the game too — including Founders, Brewery Vivant and Perrin. Vivant’s Whiskey Rooster (6.3%) takes its recipe in a different direction, aging its Big Red Coq brew in Jack Daniel’s barrels. A subtle fruit flavor is met with whiskey throughout each sip, providing for a much fuller bodied brew, but still keeping a respectable ABV level.

Up and coming Harmony Brewing Company out of Eastown held the kickoff for the collaboration on Aug. 5, and debut its Dryad Brewers Grove (4.4%). A lower ABV offering from the collaboration, Dryad is a dry ale brewed with Linden Tree flowers from Wilcox Park.

Some of the participating breweries donated $1 from each tree-themed beer sold during the week of Aug. 4-10 to produce a Brewers Grove in Grand Rapids. Other breweries will donate by hosting parties to benefit the cause.

The first Brewers Grove planting will take place Oct. 17 at Riverside Park.

The collaboration between trees and beers stems from Grand Rapids being named BeerCity USA for the second year in a row, and being named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the 15th year in a row.

Chris Epplett contributed to this report.

Oktoberfest is hitting the streets of Grand Rapids in a whole new way. And it’s going to be “hopping.”

Together with HopCat and Barfly Events, several Grand Rapids-area brewers are bringing some of the best tastes of October to a new event called Hoptoberfest. The Oct. 15 festival closes Ionia Street SW between Weston and Oakes streets for an outdoor beer and blues celebration 2-11 p.m.

“The success of our St. Patrick’s Day event, Irish on Ionia, inspired the concept for a fun new beer festival downtown,” said BarFly Ventures owner Mark Sellers. “It’s the perfect opportunity to team with other local breweries and highlight the variety of choices this area offers in craft beer.”

Breweries slated to have brews on tap are HopCat, Founders Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, The Hideout Brewing Company, White Flame Brewing Company, Michigan Beer Cellar, Jaden James and Schmohz Brewing Company. In addition, HoptoberFest will feature a German beer garden, a HopCat food tent, local artists displaying artwork and a blues lineup featuring the legendary Chicago bluesman Lonnie Brooks as headliner. Other acts include Big James and the Chicago Playboys, Stacy Mitchhart and Rob Blaine’s Big Otis Blues.

BarFly Ventures operates downtown Grand Rapids bars HopCat, Stella’s Lounge, The Viceroy and McFadden’s, and is also part owner of The Pyramid Scheme, a live music venue. According to event organizer Shane Philipsen, a crowd of 3,000-5,000 is expected.

“This is the first year for Hopfest and it won’t be the last,” Philipsen said, adding that the event will piggyback off of the city’s ArtPrize event, which should “keep the ball rolling downtown” and give the feeling “Grand Rapids never sleeps.”

College football fans aren’t being left out either — there will be four 60-inch HDTVs showing the MSU vs. U of M game.

“Come out and watch the game and enjoy some good craft beer,” Philipsen said.

Tickets are available for $10 at and at participating local breweries and bars, including HopCat, Brewery Vivant, Stella’s, Viceroy, McFadden’s and Hideout. Tickets purchased on the day of the event are $15. By liking Hoptoberfest on Facebook, users are able to access an interactive application with plenty of extra information about the event.