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.
If you've recently watched Pulp Fiction, take your friend/date/Tarantinophile to McKay's Downtown for the Grandwich-winning Royale With (Bleu) Cheese for a definitive chuckle and conversation. If you expect an actual burger by normal definitions, you'll be surprised by its brioche bun stuffed, quarter-pound grass-fed ground ham and beef, candied bacon, pickled slaw, bleu cheese ice cream and chocolate balsamic reduction.
It's hard avoiding words and phrases such as "artisan," "authentic," "dairy-free," "farm-to-table," "gluten-free," "hand-crafted," "healthful," "organic," "scratch-made," "seasonal" or "vegan-friendly" when describing New American cuisine these days.
This has been a great few years as new establishments have sprouted about West Michigan and forged strong followers; others have downright failed miserably, while some have changed hands for the better. Terra GR is of the latter.
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.
Mouths have been drooling since the menus for more than 65 area restauranteurs were announced on July 15, presenting West Michigan's finest fare this side of US-127 from Aug. 14-24 for the 4th Annual Restaurant Week.
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