It’s a sunny spring Saturday and your crew is unnecessarily stressed — scouring Yelp, texting friends, looking for a place to day drink that satisfies everyone’s tastes. The abundance of quality watering holes in West Michigan all begin to blur together.
Luckily, our side of the state has recently undergone a surge of triple-threat beer, wine and spirit locales which make it easier to please everyone in your party. There’s no need to compromise, these spots have it all.
5295 W. River Dr. NE, Comstock Park
Perhaps you heard about Bier Distillery last year when it switched to hay straws as part of an effort to eliminate plastic. But the grain and fruit to glass micro-distillery is known for something much bigger: its impressive selection of spirit choices, one of the largest in West Michigan. Bier isn’t afraid to push boundaries, being the first to bring absinthe to the region, for example. Believe it or not, the menu expands beyond spirits as well — the red and white wines are made at the distillery and feature local ingredients like Michigan Niagara grapes. Beer drinker? They’ve got you covered too. With everything from trendy Brut IPAs to the Maple Rumble, which includes the same ingredients Bier uses to make its rum, you’ll need to take a few trips to sample everything they have to offer.
40 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids
A new venture by the Brengman Brothers, Forty Pearl of Downtown Grand Rapids is unlike any “bar” experience in the area. Forty Pearl brings both fresh, unique wines and distilled spirits from the Traverse City coast to West Michigan’s vibrant downtown. Visitors enjoy tastings and more — food pairings, formal wine dinners, grab-and-go foods and wine with curbside takeout, just to name a few. Family owned in their third generation, the team at Brengman Brothers is excited to bring the excellence of the Northern Michigan wine region to Grand Rapids.
Pike 51 Brewery and Hudsonville Winery
3768 Chicago Dr., Hudsonville
This combo brewery/winery has been around the West Michigan area for more than five years. The red barn structure is easy to pass by when cruising along Chicago Drive, but stop in for a drink (and some Pike 51 Beer Cheese) and you’ll instantly feel like a local. The friendly bar staff is eager to educate guests about the numerous wines they offer, including the signature frozen sangria. Meanwhile, the Pike 51 Brewing team continues to stay on trend with beers like a Double Brut IPA and numerous seasonal sours.
St. Julian Winery
4425 14 Mile Rd. NE, Rockford
Founded in 1921 by Mariano Meconi, St. Julian has remained a family-owned business for nearly 100 years, all along at the forefront of wine advancements with cider, wine and spirits from the famed Lake Michigan shore appellation. The Rockford tasting room opened last August, and guests have more than 60 wines to choose from, as well as cider and spirits. At St. Julian, there’s something for every palate and style of wine enthusiast. For a mere $7, you can sample any six of their products and keep a stemless St. Julian glass as a souvenir.
10983 Hills Rd., Baroda
Take a trip back in time as you step through the doors of the gorgeous Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery. Located in an actual round barn, which dates all the way back to 1912, the family-owned business features award-winning wines, beers and spirits crafted from fruits grown right here in West Michigan. Plan your visit in the summer and enjoy the lush green grounds and plentiful outdoor seating. Round Barn has something for everyone, from your uncle who just wants to sip (or chug) on a lager to your sommelier friend who will swirl and sniff her way through five glasses of chardonnay. Follow Round Barn on Facebook for updates on the numerous summer outdoor music events.
435 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Aperitivo may not make its own drinks, but it does offer an experience not unlike a tasting room, with beer and wine to taste through alongside a full-service cheese and charcuterie counter. As you pass while walking through the bustling Downtown Market, you’ll be tempted for a taste of whatever new cheese is featured, but pull up a barstool at their counter and stay for a wine or beer tasting as well. A quick drink will eventually turn into a longer conversation, as the staff expresses their pride and knowledge of every item on the menu. The drink list ranges from white wine to local craft beer favorites and specialty drinks like the Rivesaltes Cocktail. When sitting at the counter of Aperitivo, enjoying fine cheese and wine, it’s surprisingly easy to imagine yourself thousands of miles away, in the heart of Paris — the best of all worlds. n