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Brewers from five West Michigan breweries have joined forces to create a beer and a band, and they’re going on tour to ring in Michigan Beer Month.

Catch them at various places around West Michigan from Wednesday, June 29-Sunday, July 3.

The event is called “Mashpaddle,” and it’s a celebration of West Michigan beer and collaboration.

Ten brewers—Steve Berthel, Jesse Jett, and Fred Bueltmann from New Holland Brewing; Melissa Brolick from Old Boy’s Brewhouse; Adam Engleman and Evan Keller from Lake Charlevoix Brewing; Tina Schuett from Rare Bird Brewpub; and Phil Thomson, Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt, and Dan Bouzis from Big Hart Brewing—teamed up to brew an IPA with all Michigan-grown ingredients.

Mashpaddle

Evan Keller, Dan Buozis, Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt, Phil Thomson, Fred Bueltmann, Steve Berthel, Adam Engleman

It includes a mix of caramel, vanilla, pale, and pilsner malts from Pilot Malt House, Motor City Malting, and Empire Malting. The brew’s cascade, centennial, chinook and crystal hops were grown in Empire, Michigan.

“It has lots of late hop additions to contribute to citrusy aromas,” said Bueltmann, New Holland Brewing’s Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle.

The culminating product is a bright, citrus-forward IPA that also bears the name Mashpaddle. It will be served at all participating locations.

A few members of the brew crew also happen to be musicians, so they’ve formed a band called Mashpaddle. The group includes three musicians from New Holland Brewing—Berthel on pedal steel, Jett on vocals, and Bueltmann on bass and sousaphone—as well as Lake Charlevoix’s Engleman on guitar.

“It’s really exciting to kind of combine passions,” Bueltmann said. “I think the idea that a group came together to make a beer and a band is really unique.”

The group will perform Jett’s original pieces along with a few “eclectic covers,” on a tour of participating breweries’ pub locations. They’ll perform between anchor sets with The Strapping Owls, a trio including Bueltmann as well as Larry Beers and Nicholas Barron. Attendees can expect “Americana roots and soul music,” Bueltmann said. In other words, good Fourth of July music.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for what we do and where we live,” Bueltmann said. “It’s a very feel-good event.”

See Mashpaddle and try the brew at one of the following dates and locations:

Mashpaddle

 

GRAND RAPIDS – Starting today, Grand Rapids residents and tourists alike will have the opportunity to win the title of “Brewsader” and a free T-shirt.

Experience Grand Rapids, a local destination marketing organization, has just launched the Beer City Passport program. Individuals who are at least 21 years of age can pick up a Beer City Passport booklet at any one of the 23 participating locations or the Grand Rapids GoSite, which is located in the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

To earn the title, a participant must visit eight different participating breweries and collect stamps in the Beer City Passport. Once that is achieved, participants bring the passport to the GoSite. A GoSite staff member checks the passport for eligibility, and the participant walks away with a Brewsader T-shirt and a much more cultured palate for craft beer.

The program is part of an effort to enhance beer tourism, which has proven its economic importance in Grand Rapids. Earlier this year, Experience Grand Rapids hired Grand Valley State University to do a study quantifying the impact beer tourism has had on the economy. The study found that beer tourists visit an average of 3.7 breweries during their stay, and they create an economic output of $12.23 million annually in Kent County.

Start collecting stamps at any one of the following breweries:

  • 57 Brew Pub & Bistro
  • B.O.B’s Brewery  
  • Brewery Vivant  
  • Cedar Springs Brewing Company  
  • Cellar Brewing Company  
  • Cranker’s Restaurant & Brewery  
  • E.B. Coffee & Pub  
  • Elk Brewing  
  • Founders Brewing Co.  
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Co.  
  • Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery
  • Harmony Brewing Company
  • Harmony Hall  
  • The Hideout Brewing Company  
  • HopCat  
  • Hudsonville Pike 51 Brewing Co.  
  • Jaden James Brewery  
  • The Mitten Brewing Company  
  • Osgood Brewing  
  • Perrin Brewing Company  
  • Railtown Brewing Co.
  • Rockford Brewing Company  
  • White Flame Brewing Co.

Learn more about the Brewsader program on the Experience Grand Rapids website.

 

Photo courtesy: Experience GR

GRAND RAPIDS — It’s no surprise that Barry and Jackson VanDyke are good brewers — they know a thing or two about taking raw materials and turning them into something great.

Before opening their own brewery with their sister Heather VanDyke-Titus, the VanDyke brothers were real estate developers. They renovated several buildings that now house well-known Grand Rapids establishments, including the Meanwhile, the Electric Cheetah and Brick Road Pizza Co.

Now they’ve renovated a space of their own.

Harmony Brewing Company is unique among Grand Rapids microbreweries in that it doesn’t feel like a bar. Though small, it’s airy and open, and you can usually hear yourself speak. The VanDyke brothers wanted to create a family-friendly atmosphere that could serve as a neighborhood pub.  “We’re very intentional about making everyone comfortable,” says Jackson.

That includes Eastown hipsters as well the East Grand Rapids affluent.

Because Harmony is a neighborhood establishment and not a distribution brewery, the VanDyke brothers feel free to experiment. They can put 200 gallons of a certain beer on tap, Barry explains, without worrying about replicating it next month or maintaining a consistent brand. The experimentation has led to some provocative but popular brews, most notably the Black Squirrel, which tastes like a campfire.

It’s worth noting that Harmony is one of our favorite small breweries. It’s got a relaxing vibe but galvanizing beers — a contrast, to be sure, but somehow it all works out. They don’t call it Harmony for nothing.

Here’s what you can expect on a visit to Harmony Brewing:

Brews. An experimental but well-balanced tap list starts on the hoppy side with the Fiddle Stix IPA and runs all the way to the smoky Black Squirrel and the Albius Vanilla Porter. A favorite for this summer is the Cavendish, aged in a cherry bitters barrel and boasting an aroma like that of a good pipe.

Fare. Harmony’s nearly Neopolitan pizzas are some of the best in town; each is made from top-notch ingredients. Standouts include the Good Earth (spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, Jarlsberg cheese, balsamic and fresh basil) and the Crispy Pig (pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, mozzarella and basil).

Prices. Most pints are $4, while pitchers are $12. Pizzas run from $10.99 to $14.99 and feed one very hungry person or two moderately hungry people. A build-your-own pizza option starts at $7.99, with bar snacks starting at $2.99.

Atmosphere. The space is bright, airy and relaxed with something of a coffeehouse vibe. The natural light and wooden elements make the place feel modern, as does the wall of Mason jars that take the place of the more traditional steins for mug club members.

Specials. Mondays: All day happy hour. Tuesday–Friday: Happy hour from 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays: $5 cheese pizzas and $6 pepperoni pizzas. Wednesdays: Mug club discounts and $1 off signature cocktails. Thursdays: $10 pitchers after 9:00 p.m. Sundays: $2.50 well drinks.

Location: 1551 Lake Dr. SE in Grand Rapids, right between Eastown and East Grand Rapids.

GRAND RAPIDS — Lines are a bit of thing at Grand Rapids Brewing Company.

Since opening its doors last week, beer lovers have waited as long as two hours to snag a table at the downtown brewery.

“We’re thrilled,” co-owner Mark Sellers said. “There was a lot of chatter online (about the brewery opening), but we did not expect this much. “

Although he was enamored with the early response to GRBC’s opening, Sellers hopes the pace continues and grows. With seating for 370, patrons lined the walls Friday evening, sipping on beers as they waited an average of an hour for a seat.

“Now that we have opened, yes, I’d like to see us keep this pace,” Sellers said. “If it doesn’t (keep pace), it means we’re not doing something right.”

During its grand opening — the first day mugs went on sale for its Mug Club — more than 200 of 500 mugs were claimed. Club members will enjoy $2 off all brews each Monday — if there’s any beer left at that point.

According to Sellers, Wednesday’s grand opening had patrons line an entire street block from the brewery on the southwest corner of Ionia and Fulton— the historic Hawkins and Gunn Company buildings, 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW — all the way past HopCat beer bar (also owned by Sellers) on the southeast corner of Ionia and Weston streets.

During the past year, three Grand Rapids-area breweries have opened and run out of beer not too long after — a mistake GRBC was hoping to avoid.

“I wish we would’ve had more time to brew,” co-head brewmaster Jake Brenner said Friday. “The trend right now is new breweries running out of beer — we’re on track for that. I’m fine with that.”

Although running out of beer shows demand is high, Sellers preferred to play it safe, opening GRBC one month later than it was ready in order to have an extra week’s worth of beer on opening day.

Perhaps Sellers planned ahead because GRBC had a fan base going into last week’s opening. In fact, this is the third time GRBC has opened its doors. The historic brewery originally opened six blocks north of its newest location 120 years ago on the southwest corner of Michigan and Ionia streets.

In December 1892, six Grand Rapids breweries consolidated their individual operations to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Company. The brewery closed during prohibition.  The downtown location was torn down in 1964, and the brewery eventually opened on 28th Street SE.

However, doors closed at its 28th Street location last year and Sellers bought  the rights shortly after.

“As soon as we bought the rights, bought the system, Stu was there dismantling it,” Brenner said of his co-head brewmaster, Stu Crittenden.

Crittenden, an East Lansing native, has six years of brewing experience, including stints at Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville and, most recently, the former GRBC.

In April, the brewing duo started preparing for the opening. Brenner, a homebrewer for eight years and brewmaster at HopCat for the past two and half years, said they had to start from scratch. All of the former GRBC recipes were scrapped to focus on brewing organic beers — GRBC touts itself as the only all-organic brewery in the Midwest.

“It’s a smart business move (being all organic),” Brenner said. “As beer consuming humans, it’s going back to our roots.”

The only “original” recipe is the brewery’s flagship beer, Silver Foam, a lighter lager. However, with organic ingredients, even Silver Foam is not exactly the same.

GRBC features six of its beers on tap, mostly session pales and ales with a couple of mainstays. In addition, the taproom features eight guest brews from various Michigan breweries.

“We’re trying to keep the beers in style, more to the season,” Brenner said.

Current GRBC beers on tap are: Silver Foam, Brewer’s Heritage, Rosalynn Bliss Blonde, The John Ball Brown, Senator Lyon’s Stout and The Fish Ladder.

Eventually, at least one of those brews may be available beyond the taproom, as Brenner and Crittenden are “scheming to sell some 40s of Silver Foam.”

6.0% ABV

Appearance: Deep Mahogany / Reddish-brown. Low head.
Aroma: Oaky, slight fruit
Taste: Raisin, Caramel
Mouthfeel: Slight carbonation, pretty easy to drink. Low-to-medium bodied. Well-balanced hoppy finish. Slight creamy texture, but otherwise very thin.

One of Brewery Vivant’s three original canned beers, Solitude, pours a deep reddish-brown color with a low head that dissipates quickly. The pour leaves a slight lacing around the glass. Solitude’s dry, oaky and slightly fruity smell gives way to tastes of bread, raisin and caramel. There’s a bit of a spice to this as well that’s just barely evident.

Low-to-medium bodied, the brew holds a slight creamy texture but is otherwise thin. Its well-balanced finish, with a bit of carbonation, makes the brew very easy to drink.

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP — In hopes of promoting more on-site consumption of its hard cider, Vander Mill celebrated the grand opening of its outdoor cider garden Friday.

Hard cider’s increasing popularity has created fairly rapid growth for Paul Vander Heide’s cider mill. Friday’s opening of its more than 2,000 square-foot outdoor garden was another benchmark for Vander Mill.

“It’s a relaxing, family-friendly place to have a drink,” Vander Heide said. “We’re trying to maintain a balance of family-friendly and craft-alcohol drinking.”

Among the “family-friendly” options, youngsters were carted around on a train powered by a tractor and took full advantage of an adjacent playground area surrounded by five acres of woods to the east of the mill.

In the past three years the cider mill has seen increased traffic, which the owner attributes to familiarity of its products now served at 28 bars/restaurants and 40 store retailers across the state, mostly in West Michigan.

“There’s a lot of traffic coming from Grand Rapids and they recognize the logo, they recognize the name,” Vander Heide said. “And then there’s other people seeking it out.”

Vander Mill, 14921 Cleveland St., is en route for beachgoers to Grand Haven State Park or Ottawa County’s North Beach Park. Those taking I-96 and exiting on M-104 pass the mill on their right heading into town (on the left as heading out of town). The store is open during the summer Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 7 p.m.

During the event, two specialty ciders were on tap in addition to eight others — the mill usually has 10 ciders on tap. The specialties, Luscious Lutes, hard cider fortified with apple brandy, and Doubled Over, a dry-hopped, bourbon-barrel aged cyser, are both available until the batches run out.

At the grand opening, patrons were treated to pizza from Old Boys Brewhouse and cheese samples from Grassfields of Coopersville. While the cider mill store sells ice cream and fresh-made donuts along with an assortment of Michigan-made local products, there are no substantial food offerings.

“We’re hoping to have a food element,” Vander Heide said. “The concept is going to be that we do 100 percent Michigan product. We would hope the additional food we offer would feature the products sold in the store.”

Vander Mill was recently state-approved for a microbrewing license and is working on federal approval. The owner says Vander Mill will brew various fruit beers, “things that are kind of in our vein.”

“We are a cider mill first,” he said. “We’re going to make a beer that has cider in it, you can bet on that.”

The brews — perhaps two or three offered on-site with occasional one-offs at local bars — will be made “on a really micro scale,” according to Vander Heide.

At Friday’s event, tours were offered, including the showcase of the mill’s new tanks. The mill is transitioning from poly totes to tanks, which should help produce a higher volume of cider. In total, three tanks will be used — a 2,000-gallon fermenter and two 850-gallon brite tanks for carbonation.

“It’s really going to help us improve consistency batch to batch,” Vander Heide said, adding the tanks will give a more consistent carbonation and help manage the company’s overall distribution growth.

As the cider mill continues to meet the needs of growing distribution demands, Friday marked one day to celebrate the site where the mill began in 2006.

“It’s certainly not a lack of demand,” Vander Heide said. “It’s not how much we can sell, it’s who we can sell it to. We want to be able to sell it as a craft cider, not just a cider.”

 

 

GRAND RAPIDS — There is likely a reason they call it BOB’s House of Brews. Emphasis on “house.”

Tucked away in the basement of a four-story building in downtown Grand Rapids, the brewpub is much like stepping into a modernized basement. It’s complete with a sizable — but small — bar, modern furniture, sophisticated decor and artwork to match.

BOB’s ‘house’ is intentionally dark with some natural light peaking through from a sky light atop the building (the room only gets darker as the day goes on into the night).

“It’s a nice place to hangout,” general manager Alan Riehl said. “It has a relaxed, forward feel that is attractive to all types of crowds.”

BOB shares his basement with another restaurant/bar, Monkey Bar, which serves up Asian small plates with items like duck, pork tenderloin and seafood. Patrons can grab a seat at a high-top table, booth or the bar, all having comfortable, soft padded chairs with backs.

The seating area is mainly lit by candle light. It would be difficult to read the Monkey Bar’s menu if it didn’t light up when you open it. The bar, which seats about 16, is lit by a back light near the taps with some florescent light coming from the brewery behind and to the right.

The brewery typically keeps 10 beers on tap with space for up to 12. Its brews are also served at other restaurants and bars inside the building, known as the B.O.B, which stands for Big Old Building. The building and its eight restaurants and bars are all owned and operated by the Gilmore Collection.

“(Serving our own beer) creates the artisan factor — it’s local, we’re doing it ourselves,” Riehl said. “We don’t have to pay to ship it from California. It allows us to have the freshest product possible.”

The man behind the brews is John Svoboda. The brewmaster keeps a steady rotation of classic ales and stouts, but doesn’t hesitate to push the envelope with brews like the Mango Chipotle ale.

“John’s very good to staying true to the true form of beer,” Diehl said. “All his beers are very drinkable and true to quality. He tries to represent a little of everything.”

Some brews, like the Mango Chipotle, are specially brewed to pair with Monkey Bar’s menu. Pairing the food and beer is still new for the almost 15-year-old brewery (the Monkey Bar opened just one year ago).

During our recent visit, eight beers were on tap, including six traditional brews, the twice-mentioned Mango Chipotle and a seasonal. Unfortunately, the seasonal ran out just before we ordered.

  • Afterglow Amber — This reddish brown concoction smells nutty and roasted. Malty through and through, the smell carries into the flavor with a creamy mouthfeel and light carbonation.
  • Full On IPA — Less bitter than most IPAs, this dark brownish orange brew has average carbonation with good overall flavor that brings lots of citrus taste.
  • Platinum Blonde — The light gold looking brew is perfect for those seeking the clean, crisp and refreshing. Not much to the smell, but definitely enough flavor and it goes down smooth.
  • Orange Lotus Hopsun — Hazy yellow orange with obvious orange smell and taste with a watery, soft mouthfeel that makes for a refreshing drink.
  • Nautical Dawn Pale Ale — Saison yeast makes this fizzy brew hop. The scent of sour orange tastes more like grapefruit — not bad.
  • Bourbon — With a light foamy top layer, just beneath is the smell of vanilla, caramel and sweetness with a taste that matches. Yum.
  • Mango Chipotle Ale — Hints of mango scent carry into a strong initial mango taste that turns into chipotle by mid drink and carried to a burning end (not for the wimps who can’t handle the heat).

BOB’s House of Brews is located inside the Big Old Building in downtown Grand Rapids at 20 Monroe Ave. NW.

GRAND RAPIDS — There is likely a reason they call it BOB’s House of Brews. Emphasis on “house.”
Tucked away in the basement of a four-story building in downtown Grand Rapids, the brewpub is much like stepping into a modernized basement. It’s complete with a sizable — but small — bar, modern furniture, sophisticated decor and artwork to match.
BOB’s ‘house’ is intentionally dark with some natural light peaking through from a sky light atop the building (the room only gets darker as the day goes on into the night).
“It’s a nice place to hangout,” general manager Alan Riehl said. “It has a relaxed, forward feel that is attractive to all types of crowds.”
BOB shares his basement with another restaurant/bar, Monkey Bar, which serves up Asian small plates with items like duck, pork tenderloin and seafood. Patrons can grab a seat at a high-top table, booth or the bar, all having comfortable, soft padded chairs with backs.
The seating area is mainly lit by candle light. It would be difficult to read the Monkey Bar’s menu if it didn’t light up when you open it. The bar, which seats about 16, is lit by a back light near the taps with some florescent light coming from the brewery behind and to the right.
The brewery typically keeps 10 beers on tap with space for up to 12. Its brews are also served at other restaurants and bars inside the building, known as the B.O.B, which stands for Big Old Building. The building and its eight restaurants and bars are all owned and operated by the Gilmore Collection.
“(Serving our own beer) creates the artisan factor — it’s local, we’re doing it ourselves,” Riehl said. “We don’t have to pay to ship it from California. It allows us to have the freshest product possible.”
The man behind the brews is John Svoboda. The brewmaster keeps a steady rotation of classic ales and stouts, but doesn’t hesitate to push the envelope with brews like the Mango Chipotle ale.
“John’s very good to staying true to the true form of beer,” Diehl said. “All his beers are very drinkable and true to quality. He tries to represent a little of everything.”
Some brews, like the Mango Chipotle, are specially brewed to pair with Monkey Bar’s menu. Pairing the food and beer is still new for the almost 15-year-old brewery (the Monkey Bar opened just one year ago).
During our recent visit, eight beers were on tap, including six traditional brews, the twice-mentioned Mango Chipotle and a seasonal. Unfortunately, the seasonal ran out just before we ordered.

  • Afterglow Amber — This reddish brown concoction smells nutty and roasted. Malty through and through, the smell carries into the flavor with a creamy mouthfeel and light carbonation.
  • Full On IPA — Less bitter than most IPAs, this dark brownish orange brew has average carbonation with good overall flavor that brings lots of citrus taste.
  • Platinum Blonde — The light gold looking brew is perfect for those seeking the clean, crisp and refreshing. Not much to the smell, but definitely enough flavor and it goes down smooth.
  • Orange Lotus Hopsun — Hazy yellow orange with obvious orange smell and taste with a watery, soft mouthfeel that makes for a refreshing drink.
  • Nautical Dawn Pale Ale — Saison yeast makes this fizzy brew hop. The scent of sour orange tastes more like grapefruit — not bad.
  • Bourbon — With a light foamy top layer, just beneath is the smell of vanilla, caramel and sweetness with a taste that matches. Yum.
  • Mango Chipotle Ale — Hints of mango scent carry into a strong initial mango taste that turns into chipotle by mid drink and carried to a burning end (not for the wimps who can’t handle the heat).

BOB’s House of Brews is located inside the Big Old Building in downtown Grand Rapids at 20 Monroe Ave. NW.