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Michigan-based cidery, Vander Mill, announces today its partnership with West Michigan businesses to celebrate the fall season at the 8th Annual Vander Fest. The event will take place at its Spring Lake location at 14921 Cleveland Street on Saturday, October 7, from 4 – 10 p.m.

Several Michigan breweries and restaurants have joined Vander Mill to create a unique festival experience that captures the best of West Michigan. The event will feature live music by local artists, food trucks, beers from local breweries, and delicious Vander Mill cider and donuts.

vander fest

“We’ve cultivated some of our favorite West Michigan businesses and entertainment and brought them together for our biggest event of the year,” says Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill. “Fall is the best time of year in Michigan, and what better way to enjoy it than with a hard cider with friends?”

Vander Fest will have several new features, including:

  • Laser Beam Lounge: a tented area filled with laser beams, Vander Mill ciders, and a laser-themed photo booth, sponsored by Van Wyk Insurance. Live music by Social Bones and DJ Nick Awesome.

  • Crystal Court: a tented area tucked into the woods and surrounded by fog. This spooky section will feature a dozen Vander Mill ciders on nitro.

  • Barrel-aged booth, which will supply all of Vander Mill’s barrel-aged ciders.

 

Attendees can also enjoy beers from Vander Mill’s brewery friends: Big Lake Brewing, Brewery Vivant, Unruly Brewing Co., Greenbush Brewing, and Oddside Ales. Several food trucks that will be on-site include Dalty Raes, Standard Pizza, and Righteous Cuisine. Vander Mill will also supply cider donuts, coffee, and hot cider.

Tickets are required for entry into the event and are available in three tiers:

  • VIP Tickets: $85
    Guests will receive entry into the event, Vander Fest souvenir glass, eight drink tokens, entertainment, reserved seating at a table in a roped-off area, and Vander Mill food.

  • General Admission Tickets: $35
    Guests will receive entry into the event, Vander Fest souvenir glass, eight drink tokens, and entertainment.

  • Designated Driver Tickets: $10
    Guests will receive entry into the event and entertainment.

Attendees can purchase tickets at Eventbrite until 11:30 p.m. the evening before the event here.

dutch girl brewery

Dutch Girl Brewery has added a lot to their plate recently. It is not a surprise how quickly breweries are learning the importance of having good food readily available for their guests. Thus, DGB has literally added plates to their tables, with the opening of a kitchen inside of their brewery. It was always in DGB’s plan, they just didn’t expect it to happen this soon. A tough situation a lot of breweries without food face is the simple fact that their customers can only drink so much before they need to put food in their stomachs.  

Finding the right person was always going to be the determining factor as to when the kitchen would open its doors. Having an owner with a background in the culinary arts, the expectations were high before they even set out to find their Head Chef. Much to their surprise, the problem was easily solved with Aaron Shapiro. An excited California native, he’s ready to bring the flair and flavor he has cultivated with over 20 years of culinary experience working in breweries, preparing banquets, and cooking in large and small scale restaurants – to the Lakeshore. You can have all the experience in the world, but one thing Shapiro always keeps in mind is his clientele.

“Whenever I’m looking at what I want to serve, there are three elements I always look at. Most importantly, who is my audience? What type of clientele being served is of the utmost importance when deciding on flavors and dishes. Second, I look at what has worked in the past. Third, I consider the cuisine I am serving, at the time. When I have used these items as factors, my successes have increased exponentially. I take a lot away from international cuisine, and in particular street foods,” said Shapiro.

DGB’s kitchen offers a menu with a lot of gourmet deli style sandwiches. Even with a ‘small’ kitchen, it isn’t stopping some amazing flavors coming out of there. Their approach to their menu is simple.

“The least amount of ingredients tastes best – five or six ingredients in each dish. We are around the world when it comes to food with our weekend features. It is a unique item that is a one off and offered at $10. Most of our weekend features sell out before the weekend is over. The features starts on Friday around 4pm and go until gone,” said Kelly Finchem, co-owner of DGB.

Keeping with the simple theme, DGB likes to leave beer out of the food menu. Everyone’s palates can be so different that it is hard to list a catch all for the guests with each food item. However, Shapiro does have a soft spot for one beer in particular.

“Our Just One More lager has a great flavor profile, and will lend itself to many different flavors. More times than not, I will lean into that one for a suggestion to our guests, when discussing beer that goes with our food, it’s just a good marry. But for me… it’s the Big and Tall Pale Ale,” said Shapiro.     

dutch girl brewery

In addition to a new kitchen, DGB is kicking up dirt and making their debut with their very first bottled beer, Dirty Boots. Dirty Boots is an imperial milk stout brewed with seven types of grain and milk sugar. It is one of their most popular beers and has a name near and dear to the owner’s, Kelly and Luke Finchem, hearts—it is named after their German Shorthaired Pointer, Bo, and his notorious muddy paws.

The actual recipe for Dirty Boots came from Luke practicing a milk stout at home for a couple years, then collaborating with Josh Lentz, DGB’s head brewer, to perfect the recipe. It is their most popular and highest rated beer.

“We are doing our first run, 90 cases, so 1,080 bottles of beer on the wall. We are hand bottling and hand labeling this run. The label is from Blue Label Digital, who was able to do a nice metallic design on it. It was important to get this metallic look to go with the watercolor design done by Jacob Zars. Zars worked collaboratively with Mark Curtis of C3Designs to place our logo into the artwork. It went through eight or nine renditions to make it happen. We are very happy with how it turned out,” said Kelly Finchem.

Dirty Boots was released to the public on Black Friday at 10 a.m. along with a continental breakfast. The 22oz bottle sold for $8.99 with no limits. If you missed out on Black Friday bottle release, don’t worry, there are still bombers available at the pub. Keep an eye out for Dirty Boots distributed around town, future beer pairing dinners at the brewery, and in case you weren’t aware, DGB also serves hard cider, wine, and moscato wine for those looking for something different to try.

Catch Kelly and Luke for a taste of Dirty Boots on Sat, Jan 7 from 4-6pm at Siciliano’s Market.

 

dutch girl brewerySpring Lake, Mich — On July 9th, 2016 from Noon-11pm, Dutch Girl Brewery will ring in their 1-year anniversary by throwing a barbecue party and releasing new barrel aged beers and a Raspberry Farmhouse Radler at their taproom. The event will feature a Southern style pig roast, served up with traditional barbecue side dishes. Additionally, multiple whiskey barrel aged flavor variants of the Dirty Boots Imperial Milk Stout will be making their debut.

“We’ve been warmly welcomed into this community. Our location is perfect, not only for Spring Lake residents, but for those in the Grand Rapids area, as well,” says Kelly Rozema Finchem, co-founder and “Dutch Girl” of Dutch Girl Brewery.

Dutch Girl Brewery opened up a kitchen in the month prior to their first anniversary, with head chef Aaron Shapiro cooking up gourmet sandwich, salad and appetizer options ranging from a “Brewer’s Platter” of smoked meats and cheeses, to a hickory pork chop sandwich, and a lobster panini. In addition to the new food offerings, Dutch Girl maintains 11 rotating beers on tap, a maple syrup hard cider and red and white wine, all made in-house. Barrel aged beers are available periodically throughout the year and for special occasions.

“We really wanted to make sure we established a solid foundation with our beer styles, before adding food to complement our beverage options. We brought on our head chef, Aaron, to bring his wide-array of culinary experience to develop a unique menu for our brewery and the larger Spring Lake area,” says Finchem.

About Dutch Girl Brewery
Dutch Girl Brewery is the brainchild of Luke and Kelly Finchem, located in Spring Lake, MI. After 3 years of planning, Dutch Girl made its debut in July of 2015, premiering ales and lagers brewed with traditional ingredients, as well as some curious experimentations. Head brewer, Josh Lentz, concocts recipes derived from various countries, ranging from the traditional German Kolsch and Altbier, to an English ESB (extra special bitter) and IPA, to an American Pale Ale and Double IPA and an unorthodox Belgian Tripel IPA. Head Chef Aaron Shapiro serves up a mix of traditional and eclectic
New-American cuisine in their recently opened kitchen. Dutch Girl Beers can be found on draft throughout the state.

Grey skies and cooler temperatures couldn’t dampen the spirits of attendees at this year’s Vander Fest, the yearly celebration hosted by Michigan’s highest volume cidery, Vander Mill of Spring Lake.

The festival takes place in early October and was conceived as a celebration of the cidery’s success in this up-and-coming industry.

“One of our founders, Paul Vander Heide, wanted to find a way to celebrate the success of their business with their friends and fans, and that’s what Vander Fest is,” says Alexa Seychel, one of Vander Mill’s enthusiastic sales team, self-named “cider slingers.” Festival guests were treated to local food truck options The Standard Pizza Company and GBQ BBQ, as well as burgers and brats from Spring Lake’s own Top Butcher Shoppe.

As Vander Mill’s success has grown, so has the event. This year featured many of the state’s other top cideries, including Blake’s Hard Cider, Northville Winery & Brewery, Uncle John’s Cider Mill, Tandem Ciders and Sietsema Orchards & Cider Mill. Also represented were many of Michigan’s well-respected microbreweries, like Greenbush, Kuhnhenn, and Dark Horse.

The event also had a distinct local flavor, with West Michigan breweries & cideries being well-represented by the likes of New Holland Brewing Company, Odd Side Ales, Big Lake Brewing, Unruly Brewing Company, and Virtue Ciders.

“We made an effort to include all local places that we have a relationship with,” Seychel said.

Vander Mill’s growth has made them the largest craft cidery in the Midwest, and the cidery distributes to Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.

As a testament to Vander Mill’s growing regional success, a number of well-reputed out-of-state breweries were at the festival, some making a rare appearance in Michigan. Among the out-of-state guests were Perennial Artisan Ales (Missouri), Revolution (Illinois), Sun King (Indiana), Allagash (Maine), Lagunitas (Illinois), Great Lakes (Ohio), and Off-Color (Illinois).

The final months of 2015 are shaping up to be big ones for Vander Mill. The cidery’s new 42,000 square-foot facility in Grand Rapids should be near completion by the end of the year.

“It’s going to allow us to quadruple production, at the very least,” Seychel told guests of one of the facility tours at Vander Fest.

The event was, of course, a great opportunity for Vander Mill to showcase its own ciders. Along with well-known staples, such as Totally Roasted, Blue Gold and Ginger Peach, were a number of special batches. These included Yellow Brick Rhode, made from Rhode Island greening and gold rush apples and aged in American white oak barrels for a year, a cyser called Besieged, a barrel-aged mead and cider combination, and L.L. Cool Bayes, a “harvest cider” wet-hopped with Columbus hops.

“We’ve been very successful letting the brand name speak for itself,” says Seychel, “and we’re very proud of that.”

Swap out your lederhosen for a pair of wooden shoes and gear up for the next beer festival. Tickets for the first annual Dutch Girl Bier Fest are on sale online and at Dutch Girl Brewery (DGB) taproom.

The festival will take place on Oct. 17 from 4-11 p.m. In celebration of the occasion, DGB will be tapping their first two barrel-aged brews. Dirty Boots Imperial Milk Stout has been aged in rye whiskey barrels and the Monastic Front Belgian Tripel IPA has been aged in gin barrels, all from Corsair Artisan Distillery.

Food will come from the local Righteous Cuisine and Top Butcher Shoppe and BBQ.

Dance music will be provided by local group Oregon Dreamchild and Mystic Dub will bring world/reggae-style tunes

DutchGirl

 

When you live in West Michigan, you can’t get too far without coming across something touched or inspired by the Dutch culture. With the Mitten State already making its mark in the beer industry, it is no surprise that the Dutch and beer cultures collide in Spring Lake.  Located directly across from Vander Mill Cider Mill and WineryDutch Girl Brewery (DGB) opens its doors with culture, vibrancy and smiles.

Saturday marked the first day Luke and Kelly Finchem, owners of DGB, got to share their brews with the public and embark on their journey in the brewery industry. The beers they shared with guests were as creative in name as they were delighting to the mouth.

Just One More, a Vienna Lager has a name that speaks for itself. An easy-to-drink, straight-up lager with the second pint going down just as easily as the first.

The 7 Mile Smile inspired by Spring Lake’s tagline, where ‘Nature Smiles for Seven Miles’” is an IPA that leaves its consumer smiling all the way to the very end.  Not a heavy, hop-forward beer, the hops shine through at the end, just what an IPA connoisseur wants to taste.

Trees is its DIPA – think pine tree in a glass. Very smooth and piney with a little sweetness to balance out the hint of hops.

Additional beers on tap included Street Scrubber (a saison) and Dirty Boots (an Imperial Milk Stout, also the nickname for the owner’s dog, Bo).

You won’t find a kitchen, at least not yet, at DGB, but don’t think you are going to starve to death. Its food options include packaged goods from all-local companies: meats, cheeses, crackers, spreads, soft pretzels and take out. The options will expand when DGB’s parking lot is added as a stop on a few food trucks’ routes. Customers will get to enjoy the variety from food trucks while drinking a DGB beer. For those that don’t consume alcohol, there are many varieties of Faygo pop for consumption as well.

Nick DeBone, Spring Lake resident, said, “I like how [DGB] supports and works with other local businesses.”

Supporting local businesses in the whole brewing process by using local hops, grains, equipment and fermenters by Pyscho Brew was very important to both Finchems in their business infrastructure.

Ambiance and atmosphere were key components in the owners’ research when visiting other breweries far and wide. Luke Finchem wants DGB to be a fun place to go, creating less of an industrial feel with no cold concrete counters or bad lighting. Instead, the walls are lined with Dutch culture, showcasing old pictures of Kelly Finchem’s family, wooden shoe tap handles and a sneak-peek view of the brewers working away through the garage door behind the bar.

“At the very least, a lot of Dutch people are excited,” said Kelly.

Andy Potts, is a home brewer in Grand Haven, shared, “It’s great to have another option in the Spring Lake/Grand Haven area.”

For all of the photos from Dutch Girl’s soft opening, please visit the MittenBrew Facebook page.

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP — Paul Vander Heide knows what it takes to make a great cider.

Vander Heide, the owner of Vander Mill Cider & Winery, has rapidly grown his company to become one of the Midwest’s top hard cider makers.

In what’s become of an annual tradition, Vander Mill will hold its fourth annual VanderFest, a “fall-themed event to ciders.

“The general popularity of cider has increased a hundredfold over the last couple years,” said Vander Heide.

Like past years, the Spring Lake cidery has teamed up with local breweries, providing a sweet cider to make a collaborative beer for the event. In addition to Vander Mill cider and local beer, 11 other cideries will join VanderFest this time around, each providing a unique spin on the sweet fall drink.

“We want to make sure to include as many of (the cideries) as we can,” said Vander Heide.

And the drink tent isn’t the only thing growing this time around — Vander Mill recently debuted a new stage, which will showcase Social Bones during the Saturday festival. Vander Mill is also teaming up with Brewery Vivant to provide a shuttle from Chicago to visit Vivant’s Wood-Aged Beer Fest, and then VanderFest.

“We’re a close knit community of manufacturers and we try to support each other in any way we can.”

Visitors to the festival will enjoy five tokens — good for 6oz. samples of beer or cider — in addition to a commemorative glass. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

“We like the creativity we can bring to this festival. It’s not easy to get a brewery to brew a special beer for an event like this,” said Vander Heide.

VanderFest kicks off Saturday at 4 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at vanderfest.com.

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP — Call it clever or call it cliché, but a look at the fruits of their labor was appropriate Monday for Vander Mill Cider and Winery owners Amanda and Paul Vander Heide.

The cider mill is producing 200 times more hard cider than cider-maker/brewer Joel Brower’s first year of producing hard cider. What was 500 gallons then has doubled every year with the cider mill expected to produce 100,000 gallons this year.

“The growth is obviously very exciting for us and for other people to see,” Amanda Vander Heide said. “We have definitely put in a lot of our personal money, time.

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs, so it’s become very personal to us. It’s exciting that it has gone where it’s gone.”

Vander Mill opened in September 2006 and began producing hard cider in 2008. The cider makers essentially own the Chicago cider scene (and Chicago loves its cider) and are one of the most well known and highest producing cider mills in the Great Beer State.

This year, Vander Mill invested $600,000 in an expansion that included 3,000 square feet off the backside of its building, adding four fermenters (130-barrels each), three brite tanks (900 gallons each), a lab and two offices. The business also added a canning line.

“This year with this level of investment, we will be close to three times the volume of last year,” Paul Vander Heide said. “I’ve always said my primary goal on this business is first and foremost to support my family and, second, to try to realize all the opportunity that is reasonably in front of me.

“We see that there is more opportunity. We are taking some near term steps to create opportunity for future investment.”

Vander Mill’s latest expansion wrapped up in March in time to begin use of its canning line in early April. Three mainstay ciders — Blue Gold, Apple and Totally Roasted — were the first to hit retail shelves in late April. Sales have proven to be more than favorable.

“The cans have been a great success,” Amanda Vander Heide said.

“So far it’s gone really well,” her husband added. “The can packaging allowed us to get our price point down. Canning is a very unique thing to do in the cider world.”

Vander Mill cider sells in four-packs of 16-ounce cans. The Vander Heides said they plan to add a fourth option in cans by spring, starting with its mainstay Ginger Peach. Other mainstays like Apple Cherry and Apple Raspberry will be put in rotation before some specialties are added to the canning line. In the meantime, Chapman’s Blend and various cysers will be released in large bottles.

A number of other specialties will be rolling out in the next few months at the mill.

This month, Cyser VanDoom, a cyser aged in imperial IPA barrels is being released. Another barrel-aged product will be mass released. The cider maker is currently aging 70 barrels of a cider aged with Michigan wild flower honey in New Holland Dragon’s Milk barrels, to be distributed throughout Michigan and Illinois.

An additional collaboration with New Holland will use Vander Mill’s sweet cider with a beer to be distributed in four pack, 12-ounce bottles in 18 states.

“It will start to tickle the markets where we aren’t at yet with our brand name,” Paul Vander Heide said. “I feel like it’s good for both of us (New Holland and Vander Mill). To do a collaboration to this size with a cidery has not been done with a microbrewery to my knowledge.”

As Vander Mill expands in its existing market and gets its name out into multiple other markets, the greatest hurdle is waiting for the overall cider market to grow. According to Paul Vander Heide, cider comprises just .3 percent of the beverage market with analysts seeing it grow almost 100 times to around two percent in the next decade.

“It’s a very young, young category — we were fortunate to be in it when there weren’t many in it,” he said. “We’re ahead of the curve.

“There are definitely a lot of markets out there. Cider still has a long way to go before it’s mainstream.”

As the cider market grows, Vander Mill is poised to grow with it. The combination of the husband-wife duo and cider-maker/brewer Brower has already shown there are fruits of their labors.

“Limitation is always time, capital and having the physically manage growth,” Paul Vander Heide said. “For us it’s not so much limited by sales, it’s how fast can you grow a healthy organization.”

Vander Mill is located at 14921 Cleveland Street in Spring Lake Township.