Beer City USA. That's quite a title. And this year it belongs to Grand Rapids. Again. Last year, the title was shared with Asheville, N.C. In 2013, however, Grand Rapids won it outright and decisively, clobbering the next closest vote-getter and West Michigan neighbor, Kalamazoo.
When one thinks of microbreweries in West Michigan, it's easy for the mind to quickly jump to the usual players in the usual cities, like Bell's in Kalamazoo and Founders in Grand Rapids. And even as these mainstays continue to be a centerpiece for the area's craft brew excellence, communities along the lakeshore are also contributing in significant ways to our reputation as one of the best damn beer destinations anywhere.
With so many beer options in the West Michigan area it can be easy to get stuck in our own brewery bubble. People all over the state are serious about their lagers, stouts and ales though, and for hopheads willing to make day trips up north or to the east side, delicious destinations await.
The growth of the craft beer scene in Southwest Michigan means that from Kalamazoo to Paw Paw or from Marshall to Battle Creek, drinkers can find beers to fit their palates, whether it's the wild experimental brews at Dark Horse or summer wheat beers like Bell's Oberon and Arcadia Ales' Whitsun.
Ok, so you can't judge a book by its cover. However, others can tell a lot about you just by the beer you are holding in your hand. Find out what your beer is saying about you with our guide below. We even threw in some local microbrew suggestions to suit every palate.
Legend has it that during the mid-19th century, hard cider (henceforth referred to simply as cider) was a mainstream staple of the old-timey U.S. consumers. In fact, scholars maintain that the alcoholic beverage was so mainstream, a significant part of workers' salaries were paid in cider until some kind of bogus amendment in 1887 made it illegal.
The story of Cellar Brewing Company begins a little more oddly than most. Chuck Brown was an operations director for Grand Valley State University and was thinking about taking his life in another direction. Being a homebrewer, he began to draw up a business plan to open his own brewery in Allendale. One day, the catering director burst into his office and said there was a brewery for sale on Craigslist.
Big Lake Brewing began where most breweries do: homebrewing. Co-owners Nic Winhimius and Travis Prueter had been brewing together since they met in 2007, and, like most homebrewers, aspired to open their own brewery and began laying the tracks.
Saugatuck Brewing was actually born across the street from its current location on the Blue Star Highway in 2005. The brewery was brought to fruition by founder and brewmaster Barry Johnson, who utilized a 3.5bbl brewhouse to bring his beer to the public in the old taproom, and from the start, the brewery had ambitious plans.
In a city nationally recognized for its beer, a new producer has popped up in Grand Rapids – not armed with malt and hops, but rather, apples. The People's Cider Co. has begun distribution out of its new facility in Grand Rapids, marking the city's first cidery.
Owner/Winemaker Jason Lummen's father-in-law was an avid homebrewer and cider maker, which inspired him to put his lifelong love with cider to action.
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