Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Grand Rapids Ale Trail

Dan and I spent a weekend up in western Michigan over a month ago, and I'm finally getting around to blogging about it!  I had a work meeting on a Friday morning, and since Grand Rapids is a Beer City, I suggested to Dan that he join me and extend it into a weekend brewery-focused trip.

We stayed at my favorite hotel in Grand Rapids, the JW Marriott, and picked up a beer map to guide us on our brewery expedition.  You can even get a brewery passport at a participating location to collect stamps towards a free t-shirt.  We didn't succeed in getting the eight stops required (we went to Kalamazoo for a day, more to come on that later) but we had a lot of fun!

After I was done with work for the day, we walked to HopCat, where we indulged in both beer and their famous crack fries.  I love the decor at HopCat!  You can also order a ton of different beers from all over the place there, on top of their brewpub offering.


After HopCat, we headed up the block to Grand Rapids Brewing Company to sample beers.  We enjoyed talking to a couple of the folks on their brewing staff, who explained that some of the rotating beers are dedicated to staff members who come up with recipe ideas, including one we tried with peanut butter flavor.  Dan has made a peanut butter stout before, so he had to try it.  Being much less of a beer person than he is, it's so interesting to hear brewers and beer lovers talk about the brewing process and beer styles.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

After that, we stopped by one of my favorite buildings in the Grand Rapids downtown area, the B.O.B., short for the Big Old Building.  Downstairs, we headed to B.O.B.'s Brewery.  They have a small system downstairs, but their beers have big flavor.  We liked some of their pulp fiction tap handles too, and Dan had a high-gravity stout that he really liked.

For dinner, my coworkers picked us up and we headed to Mitten Brewing Company.  This was probably my favorite stop of the night!  I had a delicious cherry cider (Michigan is known for its cherries) and I still want more.  We also ordered TWO of the pizza flights, each with six different varieties of their delicious pizza. We ordered every flavor except for cheese!  There was a wait for a table, and the place was filled up even with snowy weather.  I'd definitely go back.  There were some weird (but cool) pizza combos too, like the Westerdog with hot dogs and mustard and all that.

After Mitten, we hit up one more brewery, and it's a biggie: Founders.  Founders has been around since 1996 in some form or other, and now it's one of the most prominent breweries in Michigan, expanding its market to 37 states.  Every year it moves up on the list of top producers in the U.S.; in 2014 it was 17th largest craft brewery in the country.  I had been to both Grand Rapids Brewing and Founders Brewing before, but it was nice to be able to enjoy it with Dan!

Needless to say, visiting FIVE breweries from lunch to late night was a lot.  Dan and I were pretty exhausted!  But we still had more to go on our trip...  the next day we'd be headed to Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.

Stay tuned!

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