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For the first time ever, fans of The Mitten Brewing Company beer will be able to bring it home in that portable, recyclable aluminum vessel the industry loves so much.

mitten brewingThe brewery is celebrating its fifth anniversary November 13-19. Since opening on Grand Rapidsʼ West Side in 2012, the Grand Rapids brewery has enjoyed steady growth. Now, owners Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus have announced they’re ready for the next step: packaging.

“Weʼve spent the last five years building a quality brand we can be proud of,” Trierweiler said.

“Max and I wanted to do something meaningful for our fifth anniversary, and what could be better than our first ever canning run with a beer we used to brew in our garage?” Andrus said.

The first release will be a limited run of 5,000 cans of Peanuts and Crackerjack Porter, canned in-house with a brand new canning line from Michigan company MicroCanner. The beer is a sweet, robust porter made with real roasted peanuts and peanut butter from Detroitʼs Germack Pistachio Company. The Mitten Brewing Company favorite clocks in at 6.0% ABV.

“We like to say that when you drink Peanuts and Crackerjack, the ballpark comes to you,” Trierweiler said.

Customers can purchase the beer at the brewery in four packs of 12-ounce cans for $9.99 starting at 11:30am, Monday, November 13. Purchases will be limited to four four packs, and the first 100 customers will receive a free Mitten Brewing Company can koozie.

Other perks of visiting Mitten Brewing Company during its anniversary week include their top-voted 2017 pizza specials and $5 off their famous Pizza Flights, both available all week long. Mitten Clubhouse (the brewery’s mug club) renewal begins on Tuesday, November 14 and will feature “Clubhouse Only” beer tappings and specials.

“We continue to be overwhelmed by the support weʼve seen from the community these past five years,” Andrus said.

More Mitten Brewing Company favorites will be available in cans come early 2018, starting with a wider release of their popular Country Strong IPA.

 

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 Brewing Company will be releasing the second beer in our series of WOOD AGED WILD/SOUR BEERS in bottles and on draft at both Harmony locations on Saturday, August 13 at 11am.  The “Red Wattle” Flanders style red released last month sold out in bottles in LESS THAN AN HOUR!  

“Babirusa” is a wood aged farmhouse ale dry hopped with Hersbrucker and Citra Hops.  Beer nerds like to decipher what style category a beer should be judged against- the official category for the Babirusa is SUPER SAISON!  Saison means “season” in French, and the beer was traditionally brewed by farmers in the cooler months of the year for the purpose of quenching their thirst in the heat of their summer labors. The saison style (also referred to as “farmhouse ale”) can vary widely, but is always an exceedingly refreshing beverage.  Eventually, three classifications developed based on the ABV of the beer- table (3.5-5%) standard (5-7%) and SUPER (7.0-9.5%).

Harmony Hall

Super indeed!  The Babirusa weighs in at 9% ABV.  It pours a hazy straw yellow, with lively carbonation.  The aroma is INTENSELY fruity with the yeasty esters, hint of brett, and dry hop working together to create a vivid peach, ripe mango, and apricot bouquet.  The body is light, crisp, and exceptionally dry.  The Babirusa was aged in 6 different neutral wooden barrels.  Each barrel developed a completely unique aroma and flavor profile due to the proprietary blend of yeasts and bacteria in each barrel.  The blending of these barrels creates a remarkably complex and dangerously quaffable beer.

The release of the Babirusa wood aged, dry hopped farmhouse ale will be EXTREMELY LIMITED! Less than 150 bottles will be hand-filled, labeled, wax-dipped and serialized for sale.  The Babirusa will be on tap at both Harmony locations while it lasts.

New releases will happen monthly.  Next month we will release the “Tamworth” sour golden ale, and in October we will release the “Old Spot” dark farmhouse ale.

Harmony Hall

BONUS!!!  The first customers in the door at either location to purchase a bottle of the Babirusa will receive 2 free tickets to the HOPSTOCK FESTIVAL!  Hopstock is the first beer festival put together by the Beer City Brewers Guild, and it will feature beer, cider, wine and liquor all made right here in BEER CITY USA!

new holland

New Holland Brewing Company, firmly established near the southeastern shore of Lake Macatawa in Holland, is rapidly progressing on their latest addition near the west bank of the Grand River in Grand Rapids’ West Side neighborhood. Aiming to open in September 2016, this location will offer an unparalleled opportunity to revel in life’s finer points of good drink, food, and conversation by showcasing the company’s Stop and Taste philosophy.

new holland
“This has been a process; it’s been a long arc, if you will,” President and Co-Founder Brett VanderKamp said. Over the decade that his company had been contemplating adding a physical presence in the Grand Rapids area, three serious potential locations arose before the perfect one clicked and allowed them to go forward with their intentions.

The winning proposal came from Mike VanGessel, owner and CEO of Rockford Construction whose headquarters are a few blocks away from the new development.

“We’ve all got deep ties to Grand Rapids; it’s somewhere where we’ve always been. We’ve got a solid following there with huge fans, and we’ve been wanting to be closer to them obviously for quite some time now,” said Joel Petersen, vice president of marketing.

“We wanted what is an area that we think over the next 10 to 20 years will develop in an absolutely beautiful enhanced investment part of Grand Rapids,” he added. “We couldn’t be more excited about Harmony Hall being down the street, with Atwater coming in, and The Black Heron across the street. All of the different businesses that either currently have plans or are looking at plans along that corridor. I mean, one block away you’ve got Mitten, and you’ve got Two Scotts BBQ. It’s palpable in that area right now. There’s a lot of new businesses going down there and we loved that!” 

new hollandNew Holland Brewing Company believes in spending time, money, and effort wisely. Fred Bueltmann, partner and Vice President of Brand and Lifestyle, asserts: “We didn’t want to expand just to expand. We didn’t want to go to Grand Rapids just to add seats. We wanted to go when an opportunity presented something that we couldn’t do in our existing places.”

With the intensity of craft fans in the Grand Rapids market he knew their contribution had to be outstanding. “Our mission is to enhance people’s lives with remarkable choices, remarkable experiences, and I think that’s about providing them choices. So we put it through that litmus test, too, that if we’re not contributing something to the neighborhood, if we’re not contributing something to the city, if we’re not providing quality choices for people that make the overall whole better, then we don’t need to go,” said Bueltmann.

According to VanderKamp, the new place is nearly double the size of the Holland pub and will need the participation of the neighborhood to be successful. “We’re really counting on the West Side. It’s not something where we’re running in thinking we’re saving the West Side, the West Side has really got to come out to support us,” he said.

Moving forward with the Grand Rapids location won’t lead to New Holland Brewing Company abandoning their birthplace. Holland is in their name and in their blood; that’s where it all started. The city will continue to be the heartbeat of the company for many years to come. Their downtown pub on 8th Street will remain a strong presence for the brand, and long-term expansion plans ensure the headquarters of operations will stay at the production campus across town.



Since opening in 1997 New Holland Brewing Company has earned their share of the market through hard work and steadfast commitment to their vision. They’ve gathered a loyal following across their distribution footprint, as well as at their downtown Holland pub where Steve “Bert” Berthel will continue brewing his exclusive pub-only offerings. Having the Grand Rapids location, according to VanderKamp, “is going to allow us, really, these pilot batches that we can then bring immediately to a broader audience.”

There will be an indoor-outdoor beer hall open year-round. VanderKamp is proud to say they fought hard in spite of expense to keep the elements of the beer hall. The team feels it will be impactful as part of the entrance to the west side of town from the city center.

The new building’s impact extends beyond the visual aspect. The planned business model will take patrons on a journey through the full range of the craft movement. Every aspect is addressed thoughtfully and thoroughly.

The restaurant’s menu will focus on rustic traditions presented in a current way, according to Bueltmann. A whole animal butchery within the complex will allow every part of an animal to be used to make stocks, soups, rillettes, charcuterie and sausage in addition to typical meat dishes.

Rocktoberfest (10)

The on-site brewing and distilling will be of the same caliber New Holland fans have come to expect. The new space will allow for more room to be creative and take on projects that have been waiting in the wings.

“We’re going to focus on gin production and other botanical spirits,” Bueltmann said. He plans to undertake extensive exploration of gins, cordials, and liqueurs to complement the company’s existing cocktail program.

The beers in planning will be a “Euro-American wide range of beautiful and comfortable beers that celebrate some of the Old World traditions that may not get a whole lot of daylight,” Bueltmann said.

New Holland Brewing Company’s standard lineup will also be available at this location. Mainstays will draw long time customers in, and experimental brews will keep them coming back. “We are continual students of balance, so I think we’ll always want to see a good balance between the comfort level of things you know and encouraging you to stretch and invite you to adventure and try something new,” Bueltmann said.

“New Holland’s Stop and Taste Philosophy is about remembering and encouraging people to take a minute to enjoy what this is all about––which is connecting, communing over food and drink,” Bueltmann said. “This project is very much in line with that philosophy in that we’re trying to build the space that is a community gathering place where people can come in and set aside the distractions of the day and connect over a meal, connect over a drink, connect over a story, and enjoy themselves and enjoy what this is all about.”

You can find a full-length multimedia version of this article here, as Episode One of New Holland Brewing Company’s Storyteller Series.

Photography: Steph Harding

the mitten

If you’re in Michigan and encounter a business name that includes the word “Mitten”, you’ll find several possible descriptions; all referring to the shape of the lower peninsula of our great state. Two of them happen to be based in Grand Rapids and share quite similar names. MittenBrew.com, the online news source you’re currently reading, recently sat down to chat with the crew of Mitten Brewing Company, the Detroit Tigers baseball-themed brewery in the West Side neighborhood. They share our love of the mitten as well as our passion for Michigan’s craft culture. Sometimes this leads to a brief moment of confusion, more on that in a bit.

Spend some time at Mitten Brewing Company and you’ll begin to understand the depth of their commitment to great beer and baseball. MItten, in their case, also refers to a baseball mitt. Brews have monikers that refer to the game, and are fermented in vessels named in honor of Tigers legends Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, and Kirby Puckett.

the mitten

Brite tank labels refer to another common passion of the Mitten Brewing Team: music. Currently “Son House” is the solo brite and is waiting to be joined by a round of new tanks being brought in. An additional twenty barrel fermenter and an additional twenty barrel brite tank are on order from Craftwerk Brewing Systems. Production is currently done in a portion of an adjacent building and will eventually expand into a space that is currently being leased by Long Road Distillers.

The short term plan includes a canning line made locally by Belmont company Microcanner that will fill twelve ounce cans when the timing is right. “We want to wait and make sure stuff’s getting pulled through distribution and we’re not pushing it through,” said Co-owner Chris Andrus.

the mitten“We’ll freely admit that we were not up to snuff when we opened and it took us a learning curve to get there and to make the improvements. Our day to day mindset is to counteract the idea that growth outpaces quality control, and I think we’re living that right now. I think we’re very much in that. Every day we sit down and reanalyze what can we do to be lean and mean here and make our beer better, because we cannot continue to have it be good and grow this fast. We do a lot of volume here, and it all goes back into R&D. It all goes back into better equipment,” he added.

The owners and staff routinely meet for tasting sessions to compare their beers to commercial examples. “We want to be in the same conversation with Founders and New Holland and we want to have earned our place to be there,” said Andrus. The team is looking forward to having New Holland Brewing Company’s newest location as a neighbor. When they’re up and running, Mitten Brewing anticipates sharing a customer base. “People will come, and we damn well better have earned their respect when they come,” said Andrus. “Just because something is local does not mean people should fall over themselves to get it. It has to hold up against the national standard, and that’s what our standard is. We’re getting there. Every day is an ongoing effort.”

That effort is made by the entire crew. Head Brewer Jason Warnes joined Mitten Brewing a few weeks after their grand opening. He became an owning partner in December 2015 in addition to heading up the production facility. Warnes’ brew partner Alexander Atkin was injured in a motorcycle accident recently and isn’t able to physically return to work yet. Taylor Darling has filled in during Atkin’s absence.

“He kind of got thrown in the pits” after Alex’s accident, Warnes said of Taylor. “He was a cook here” adds Andrus. “We get a lot of people that take cook jobs but they really want to be in the brewhouse. He didn’t make any secret about it and then the Alex thing happened and he kind of got thrown into it. Basically he was just kind of washing kegs and was Jason’s assistant, and he had to learn microbiology in a hurry!” Andrus said.

Atkin continues to help the guys whenever there’s a yeast question or anything related to his position in the technical aspects. The team has said they are looking forward to the future when Atkin is able to rejoin them in the brewhouse.

Looking for outside feedback, Mitten Brewing entered and poured several of their beers in the Great American Beer Festival last year. “We were serving a Dark Mild (Triple Crown Brown), which no one was there for but it was a huge geek moment–John Palmer who wrote “How to Homebrew” favors that style,” said Andrus. Warnes interjected “He inspired me to make that beer, and he’s there! So we go up to him and we’re like ‘we’ve got a Dark Mild’ and he said ‘oh, I’ll come by your booth’ and I thought ‘he’s not coming by’ but he comes by with Jamil Zainasheff!” Palmer and Zainasheff are well-respected members of the brewing industry and co-authors of the book “Brewing Classic Styles”. “It was surreal. I still look up old BYO (Brew Your Own) articles that he wrote,” Andrus said.

The celebrity moments are hitting home as well, with the Tigers Winter Caravan making a stop in the taproom recently. Stars of the team, managers, and announcers filled the upstairs bar area, a dream come true for the owners and staff whose respect and love for the Tigers is the stuff of local legends. The feeling was mutual, it seems. On the way out, Alan Trammell, holding up the caravan bus, made sure he stopped in the lobby for a moment to sit in the seats from the former Tiger Stadium on display — sacrificing time to allow a few more photographs before leaving.

the mitten

The guys on the tour enjoyed the beer there enough to start a conversation about having it on tap at Comerica Park. Tigers Director of Marketing called up the Beverage Purchaser and started the process on the spot. “It’s one of those pie in the sky things for us that ended up happening” Andrus said of having their beer at the stadium, “and the team is planning to come back in forthcoming years for the caravans.”

Another honor, and additional chance for outside feedback, has been bestowed upon the brewery. Co-owner Max Trierweiler revealed Mitten Brewing has been chosen to participate in this year’s edition of Savor, a craft beer and food festival in Washington DC. Three hundred twenty five breweries applied, and only sixty breweries were invited to attend. “That’s why when this kind of thing comes up it matters that this (indicating his beer) is on point, because I would hate to get all dressed up for the prom and have tennis shoes on. GABF was humbling for us but also eye opening and we held our own, frankly. It makes you want to be better,” said Andrus.

Judge their quality for yourself by visiting their taproom or find them at one of the many events they take part in. Ten of their beers were brought to the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival this past weekend in a refurbished old band trailer that Andrus had hauled around the country while he was in bands, most recently as lead singer of Bless You Boys, another Detroit Tiger’s reference.

“Chris, when he was a musician, this is what he would lug around the country on his tours with his equipment in it, and now we’re going to lug beer around in it,” Trierweiler said. “I actually started out with him as a drummer in the band when we were just a three piece,” he added. More evidence of the cohesiveness that is prevalent in their tight-knit family.

MittenBrew.com owner Steph Harding asked Andrus about the confusion that sometimes occurs because of our similarly named beer-centric companies. “Most of the time because your tag is shorter so they click you instead of us,” said Andrus. During the Tigers Caravan visit, a social media representative mistakenly tagged the online news source. “I saw it and was like ‘oh no! fix that!’ and I immediately responded to it and they retweeted it” with the proper tag, said Harding.

The two companies don’t see the confusion as a problem. Both MittenBrew.com and Mitten Brewing Company view it as a happy accident that occasionally links us, and reminds us it’s always good to be part of the Mitten.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

Detroit Tigers photo courtesy Terry Johnston

GRAND RAPIDS — What do dilapidated buildings, shipping containers and craft beer all have in common?

The Sovengard.

Grand Rapids’ first official outdoor beer garden is slated to open late this summer on the west side. As with any bar in Beer City USA, you’ll find plenty of craft beer, along with craft spirits, cider and wines. But that’s where the similarities end.

The brainchild of Rick Muschiana, The Sovengard will be a European-style beer garden that will feature plenty of green space, some indoor seating, and a bar housed in a used shipping container.

“It’ll be about three-quarters outside, and then we’ll have some indoor seating for about 99 people. Our total capacity is going to be around 227 seats. We’re really excited about that, and using sustainable and reclaimed building materials,” said Muschiana, pointing to his former position with Brewery Vivant for instilling that mindset in him.

“That’s what makes Michigan great, is the seasons, the outdoors, the nature and the lakes — sometimes you can lose sight of that when you’re living in an urban environment,” he said. “Our thought process was, ‘what can we do to rejoin that and really be an asset for urban living?'”

The atmosphere won’t be the only unique aspect, either. Muschiana plans on channeling some Scandinavian influence in all aspects of the business, specifically the New Nordic Movement.

“There’s a group of now-renowned chefs in those Scandinavian countries doing some amazing things and promoting self-sufficiency and agricultural sustainability. I think that’s all important to us, and craft beer, cider, spirits and small production wine — they all fit in there.”

[tw-parallax image=”https://mittenbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/soven-middle.jpg” target=”self” lightbox=”yes” link=”https://mittenbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/soven-middle.jpg” ][/tw-parallax]

Click above to view the entire site plan

Additionally, The Sovengard is aiming to become the first bar in Grand Rapids with a fully-dedicated crowler system, which is also in use by White Flame and Perrin Brewing. The system allows guests to can beers to take home, rather than put them in standard growlers.

The bar is going so far as to offer a Crowler Club, allowing members to fill three crowlers per month.

The Sovengard started an IndieGoGo campaign on Tuesday, which will run throughout the end of June. It is trying to raise $25,000, offering not only its own perks, but some from businesses like Citizenshirt, BenchDog Studio, Detroit Bikes and more. The Crowler Club is also available as a perk.

When all is said and done, Muschiana hopes that he can offer a unique beer garden to the otherwise urban environment, as well as offer food and libations that guests wouldn’t otherwise be able to find locally.

“Lord knows we have enough bars and restaurants in the city. I think the underlying theme is that there is a movement happening — people want to eat better, drink better. They want their dollars to count for something, and be more than just filling up the tank,” said Muschiana. “We really want to be a part of that movement and offer something new and different, and be original —  embrace the community. We want it to be as much of a hang out and community space as we do a business space and beer garden.”

“It’s adding another layer to flavor, to interest and destination, and really making Grand Rapids as a city, a hub.”

Muschiana plans for The Sovengard to open late summer or early fall at its 443 Bridge Street location.

GRAND RAPIDS — New Holland Brewing Co. and Rockford Construction announced Tuesday its plans for a multi-purpose construction project on the corner of Bridge Street and Broadway Avenue NW. The project will bring New Holland to Grand Rapids’ West Side, in addition to residential and retail space.

“Today’s announcement is another example of investing in the community as Grand Rapids’ growth continues,” said Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell. “We look forward to having New Holland Brewing Co. as a business here.”

The New Holland space will include a distillery tasting room, a brewery and restaurant. New Holland expects its part of the project will create approximately 150 jobs.

The brewery will also house it growing sour beer program (known as The House of Funk) at the new location, as well as produce whiskey on-site.

Plans also include brewing a monthly specialty beer in which a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Westside Neighborhood Association.

“We have been waiting a long time for the perfect opportunity to come along in Grand Rapids and I’m so excited that an opportunity presented itself on Grand Rapids’ West Side,” said New Holland President and Co-founder Brett VanderKamp. “I have fond memories of summer weekends and holidays at my Grandparent’s house on Widdicomb Avenue and day’s spent at Richmond Park.”

The demolition of the current buildings will begin in March 2015. New Holland expects to open the location in early 2016.