Friday, 30 July 2021 11:31

6th Annual Best of the West: Drinking

Written by  Jack Raymond
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Aye, do ye feel it in the air? A sea change be a-brewin’.

After a few years reporting on the Drinking winners, parsing through spreadsheets of carbon-copied contestants, the deja vu was setting in hard. Alas! In 2021, we have some shake ups to talk about. 

First off, where the heck did Two Hearted go? This universally beloved IPA has held it down on every list since BOTW’s inception, so its disappearance feels strange. We could chalk it up to Bell’s fans slacking on the voting front ... or we could push a conspiracy involving Founders’ deep state saboteurs trying to ice their competition. Yeah, it’s probably just the former. 

Nice to see Farmhaus, the little Hudsonville cidery that could, take top honors this go round. Their rebranded cans definitely look flashy on store shelves, and credit where it’s due — Midwest Nice is one of the most agreeable ciders in the state. 

I bet Cedar Springs Brewing Company is popping bottles to celebrate their 2nd place win in the Best Brewery race — plus first prize for best German Beer, and Best Lager! With their downtown Grand Rapids Brauhaus on the horizon, all aboard the Kusterer hype train. I, for one, will be there on day one chugging liters of Dunkel in my lederhosen. 

Elsewhere, Max’s South Seas Hideaway leapt into first for best craft cocktails, 7 Monks nearly edged out HopCat for best beer bar and Speciation’s Incipient returned to its rightful throne as Best Sour Beer. 

Still, some things never change. Donkey makes the taco people whinny. Founders has the public’s palate on hook, line and sinker. Eastern Kille and Long Road continue to duke it out for best spirits like a pair of Siamese fighting fish. There’s comfort in this consistency.    

Then there are the newcomers showing signs of things to come. Black Calder Brewing Co. took home Best New Brewery without a brick-and-mortar location, but when they do secure a spot, expect only the most dope food and bev. 

Awards aside, it’s truly just a pleasure returning to our favorite haunts and racking up some major bar tabs. The pandemic was impossibly hard on the service industry and few made it to the other side unscathed. So everyone, please show your local community some love. After all, it’s good booze that makes the world go ‘round.

BOURBON

Eastern Kille Distillery - Straight Bourbon, 1st
700 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

Long Road Distillers - Straight Bourbon, 2nd

New Holland Brewing Co. - Beer Barrel Bourbon, 3rd

BREWERY

Founders Brewing Co., 1st
235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Cedar Springs Brewing Co., 2nd

Brewery Vivant, 3rd

CIDER

Vander Mill - Totally Roasted, 1st
505 Ball Ave. NE, Grand Rapids 

Farmhaus Cider Co. - Midwest Nice, 2nd

The Peoples Cider Co. - Ginger Adams, 3rd

CIDERY

Farmhaus Cider Co., 1st
5025 Stanton St., Hudsonville

Vander Mill, 2nd

The Peoples Cider Co., 3rd

CRAFT COCKTAILS

Max's South Seas Hideaway, 1st
58 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Long Road Distillers, 2nd

Buffalo Traders Lounge, 3rd

CRAFT LAGER

Cedar Springs Brewing Co. - Küsterer Salzburger Märzen, 1st
95 N. Main St. NE, Cedar Springs

Founders Brewing Co. - Solid Gold, 2nd

     Third Nature Brewing Co. - White Pine Pilsner, 3rd

DISTILLERY

Long Road Distillers, 1st
537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Eastern Kille Distillery, 2nd

Bier Distillery, 3rd

GERMAN BEER

Cedar Springs Brewing Co. - Küsterer Original Weißbier, 1st
95 N. Main St. NE, Cedar Springs

Third Nature Brewing Co. - El Hefe, 2nd

Brewery Vivant - Grand Lager, 3rd

GIN

Long Road Distillers - Michigin, 1st
537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

New Holland Brewing Co.- Knickerbocker, 2nd

Eastern Kille Distillery - American Dry Gin, 3rd

IPA

Founders Brewing Co. - All Day IPA, 1st
235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Rockford Brewing Co. - Hoplust IPA, 2nd

Third Nature Brewing Co. - 3NEIPA, 3rd

MARGARITA

Donkey Taqueria, 1st
665 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Luna, 2nd

Lindo Mexico Restaurante Mexicano, 3rd

NEW BREWERY

Black Calder Brewing Co., 1st
blackcalderbrewing.com

Lost Art Brewhouse, 2nd

North Grove Brewers, 3rd

SOUR BEER

Speciation Artisan Ales - Incipient, 1st
928 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Rojzilla, 2nd

Brewery Vivant - Strawberry Rhubarb, 3rd

STOUT

Founders Brewing Co. - Breakfast Stout, 1st
235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

     Rockford Brewing Co. - Sheehan’s Stout, 2nd

Cedar Springs Brewing Co. - Eire, 3rd

VODKA

Long Road Distillers - Original Vodka, 1st
537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Eastern Kille Distillery - Utility Vodka, 2nd

     New Holland Brewing Co. - Michigan Awesome, 3rd

WINERY

Hudsonville Winery, 1st
3768 Chicago Dr., Hudsonville

St. Julian Winery, 2nd

     Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery, 3rd

BAR/PUB/TAVERN

Blue Dog Tavern, 1st
638 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

Garage Bar & Grill, 2nd

O'Toole's Public House, 3rd

BEER BAR

HopCat, 1st
hopcat.com

7 Monks Taproom, 2nd

Logan's Alley, 3rd

BLOODY MARY BAR

Rockwell Republic, 1st
45 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids

The Winchester, 2nd

Stella's Lounge, 3rd

HAPPY HOUR

Rockwell Republic, 1st
45 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids

Max's South Seas Hideaway, 2nd

Uccello's Ristorante, 3rd

SPORTS BAR

The Score, 1st
5301 Northland Dr. NE, Grand Rapids

Uccello's Ristorante, 2nd

Peppino's Pizza, 3rd

 

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