Cool Brews. Hot Eats.
Feb.18 - March 2
With so many businesses devoted to craft brews, and new ones constantly popping up, it's safe to say Grand Rapids loves beer. Recently voted Beer City USA and named one of the Top 10 Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers, the city is home to dozens of microbreweries and counting.
To celebrate this love, Experience Grand Rapids' newest event, Cool Brews. Hot Eats., features two weeks of pairing what the city has received national recognition for: local brews and fantastic food.
"The goal of Cool Brews. Hot Eats. is to bring both our great restaurants and our fine local craft beer together in a promotion that encourages the community to experience new food and sample our local beers," said Janet Korn, vice president of marketing for Experience Grand Rapids. "As the destination's key promoters, Experience Grand Rapids intends to attract more visitors to the area by promoting the quality dining scene and the Beer City USA award."
The event is centered around the annual sold-out Winter Beer Festival. Since not everyone could get their hands on the fast-selling tickets, Experience Grand Rapids created "something more so everyone can participate" by focusing on the city's rich culinary history of great restaurants and breweries, according to Emily Richett of Richett Media.
More than 50 area restaurants will offer special menus featuring dishes either paired with beer or use it as an ingredient.
"The goal is to increase restaurant and brewery sales, increase the community's knowledge of pairing beer and food, and increase the awareness in the region of Grand Rapids for both culinary and beer tourism," Korn said.
As a lover of local craft beer, Chef Jenna Arcidiacono of Amore Trattoria Italiana is looking forward to participating in the first-ever Cool Brews. Hot Eats.
"I hope it gets people who love beer out, and people who love food and maybe don't know much about beer to come try it and see what they like," Arcidiacono said. "And maybe they learn something or find a beer that maybe they wouldn't have thought of otherwise."
For her, the fun comes from promoting local and meshing cheeses, vegetables and meats from area suppliers with craft brews made in Grand Rapids. All the featured dishes are paired with the most local beer she could find, including selections from Perrin Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co. and Brewery Vivant.
Amore's special menu consists of five courses—an appetizer, salad, soup, entrée and dessert—for $25, each paired with a different beer.
Each course will have two options to choose from, including dishes such as Michigan bean and lamb soup, garlic ale soup with local cheese, chocolate truffle with Founders Breakfast Stout or a stout tiramisu.
"So if you come with someone else, you will actually—when you split it—get to try 10 things," Arcidiacono said. "If they'll share."
With so many dishes on the special menu, she said she has put a lot of research into local brews to make the pairings work well together.
"I love that [local beers] don't hold back," Arcidiacono said. "They're very bold. All of them have a lot of different flavors; they're willing to be creative, kind of push the envelope a lot."
With so many local restaurants and breweries partaking in Cool Brews. Hot Eats., there is sure to be something for everyone.
The Acorn Grille at Thousand Oaks Golf Club
Amore Trattoria Italiana
Bagger Dave's (two locations)
Blue Water Grill
Buffalo Wild Wings (several locations)
Charley's Crab Restaurant
The Chop House
The Cottage Bar and Restaurant
Flat River Grill
Founders Brewing Co.
Gilly's at the B.O.B.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company
Grand Woods Lounge
Harmony Brewing Co.
Honey Creek Inn
Louis Benton Steakhouse
McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon
The Melting Pot
One Trick Pony
Pearl Street Grill
Pietro's Italian Restaurant
Red Jet Café
Reds on the River
Reserve Wine & Food
Riverfront Hotel-Grand Rapids
Rockwell's Kitchen and Tap
Rose's on Reeds Lake
Rush Creek Bistro
The Score Restaurant & Sports Bar
Traven On The Square
Trillium Haven Restaurant
Z's Restaurant & Bar
Pictured: A dessert course at Amore Trattoria featuring Founders breakfast stout with a hand made chocolate truffle rolled in toffee.