Thursday, 27 September 2018 13:04

Taps on Taps: A short guide to West Michigan beer bars

Written by  Kelly Brown
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Gravity Taphouse Gravity Taphouse Courtesy Photo

It would be impossible to list every brewpub, beer bar and taphouse in West Michigan in one article. In fact, it would likely take an entire issue just to cover this side of the Mitten state. But that’s kind of a fantastic problem to have, isn’t it? Us West Michigan folk are spoiled with beer-specific restaurants and bars popping up on almost every corner. Here’s just a sampling of some of the best spots for craft beer lovers around.

Hops at 84 East
84 E. 8th St., Holland
hopsat84east.com

Previously known as 84 East Food & Spirits and Froggy’s, Hops at 84 East is a retro beer bar offering more than 70 beers, meads, wines and ciders on tap alongside cocktails and a share of local offerings. The walls throughout Hops are decorated with the history of Holland and that history extends into the kitchen with pizza dough from DeBoer Bakery in Holland and potatoes from Visser Farms. Their pizzas, baked in a 600-degree brick oven, are perfection, slathered in house-made tomato sauce and an assortment of toppings. 

HopCat
25 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
2183 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
300 E. Water St., Kalamazoo
hopcat.com

This award-winning tap house doesn’t need an introduction. If you’re from Michigan, you know their crack fries rule. You know they have an amazing selection of beers. And you know it’s always going to be a good time. HopCat continues to dominate the beer bar scene with its third West Michigan location in Knapps corner, which opened last month.

7 Monks Taproom
740 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids
7monkstap.com

This beer bar, originally from Traverse City, might be one of the best in Michigan. In fact, DRAFT Magazine named it one of the 100 Best Beer Bars in America in 2014 and 2015. A newer addition to Michigan Street, 7 Monks is a multi-tap destination that serves exceptional gastropub fare in a relaxed setting. The two locations have different aesthetics and menus but offer the same service and a stellar offering of beers. The pickled eggs (a real Northern MI classic) pair really, really well with just about every single beer. 

Kalamazoo Beer Exchange
211 E. Water St., Kalamazoo
kalamazoobeerexchange.com

The stock market of beer! This Playboy 2017 “Weirdest Themed Bars” winner features prices that fluctuate depending on supply and demand – much like the stock exchange. Up-to-the minute popularity determines pricing for each brew and periodic “market crashes” offer special beer prices at remarkably low rates. 

Logan’s Alley
916 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids
logansalley.com

This locals’ favorite features 23+ taps and 200+ bottles in one of the chillest neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. The beers are well-curated, with sours and rare brews regularly available. A small “hole-in-the-wall” style bar, Logan’s has minimal seating, loud music and an awesome patio/porch for the summer months. The “world-famous” smothered tots are a perfect late-night snack. Need one more perk to get you to Logan’s Alley? Free popcorn!

Craft Beer Cellar
404 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
grandrapids.craftbeercellar.com

A beer bottle store allowing patrons to purchase beer in single bottles/cans and drink them on-site, Craft Beer Cellar is the first of its kind in Grand Rapids. The full bar in the back, complete with numerous taps, snacks and hot dogs, is staffed by a smaller team who are Cicerone Beer Server Certified. The board games and free Wi-Fi make it a great spot to hang with friends or catch up on podcasts or emails after work. Their in-house tastings, food pairings and events are run throughout the year and give local breweries a chance to show off new products. 

Gravity Taphouse
3210 Deposit Dr. NE, Grand Rapids
gravitytaphouse.com

Filling a void in Grand Rapids, Gravity Taphouse offers upscale, sophisticated dining in a high-energy restaurant space with more than 60 taps. The cozy booths and wooden accents, along with the indoor/outdoor dining space, make it a great location for a date night. The tap line-up features local favorites, Michigan standards and some selections from around the world. The menu covers everything from American to Asian and, like so many of the taphouses on this list, Gravity serves up delicious tater tots in truffle oil and salt. 

Shakespeare’s Pub
241 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo
shakespearespub.com

It’s a pub you can call home. Shakespeare’s has all the cozy, friendly, “where everybody knows your name” vibes you want in a local pub. The bar features numerous beers on tap, heart-warming comfort food, an outdoor seating space and a live music venue, Shakespeare’s Lower Level. Check out the Facebook page for regular updates on recently tapped beers (which also can be found on untappd.com).

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