Grand Rapids: A beer tour.

This past Saturday Julie and I made the drive up to Grand Rapids, Michigan to check out several of their breweries. Grand Rapids has more than 15 breweries in the city proper and we were able to visit 8.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
Our first stop in town was Grand Rapids Brewing Co. which is located downtown and was within walking distance from our hotel. When all things were said and done, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. was one of my favorite stops during our trip. The bartender was great, the beer selection was good and they had ample TVs. Their Beetlejuice IPA was one of my favorite beers and the Cranucopia is probably the only foodstuff that I’ve ever liked that contained cranberry.  Also, the chicken wings were great.

Next we headed a couple doors down to HopCat which is a regional chain of brewpubs that mainly serves as a great beer bar.  HopCat is located near the Van Andel Arena  where a minor league hockey game was going on so we were lucky to grab a seat at the packed bar and being that it was a chain we didn’t want to spend much time there but we did have a couple of beers, including the house pale ale: Light Side Of The Sun.

B.O.B.’s Brewery
Not sure what to make of B.O.B.’s Brewing. It seemed like something that should have been in a mall instead of a warehouse. Multiple levels, multiple restaurants. Julie thought their Peanut Butter Porter was one of the better beers she had all weekend. I don’t mix peanut butter and beer.

Founders Brewing Co.
Founders Brewing Co. was one of the main reasons for going to Grand Rapids.  We planned to end our Saturday there so we had dinner and a couple of beers.  I must say we weren’t really impressed with the beer selection, by that I mean there wasn’t much on tap that isn’t available back in Chicago.  The brewery is massive.  On the scale of Victory Brewing in Philly or close to the size of Lagunitas in Chicago.  They have a stage with live bands, good food and several outdoor spaces with heaters and fire pits.

The Hideout Brewing Company
On Sunday, after breakfast at our hotel, we decided instead of stopping at Bells in Kalamazoo on the way home we’d try to do a couple more breweries including The Hideout Brewing Company.

We decided to start the day with The Hideout because it was a ways out of town and off the beaten path.  As you can see in the photographs above it was down a winding road near an apartment complex, hence the name.  The Hideout is known for their large selection of uniquely flavored beers.  When we arrived the doors were locked and there were only two other people in the brewery getting growlers to go.  We had to knock for the bartender to let us in, this isn’t part of their stitch, it’s just that the Saturday night crew left the place a disaster and he was still cleaning up. The beer was ok, once again I’m not into flavored stuff but Julie was a big fan of several of their stouts.

Mitten Brewing Co.
I had wanted to stop by Mitten Brewing Co. since last years Ohio State – Michigan game where a growler was brought to the tailgate. Like a lot of the breweries we hit Sunday morning they were out of several of their beers from the night before. We had a great strombolie and did a flight of their beers. If it was possible I would have had another of the Rye Baby IPA.

Elk Brewing
Elk Brewing might have been one of my favorite stops all weekend. I believe they are one of the newest breweries in Grand Rapids.  The bartender was helpful, we had a flight and I thought their Light Ale was probably the best light beer I’ve ever had.  It was somewhat refreshing to visit a brewery that wasn’t just about extreme hopping or barrel again.  I also enjoyed their ESB.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
The hotel we stayed in was the historic Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids which was originally built in 1913.  We stayed in the modern tower section of the hotel facing the Grand River across from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.  The hotel was really packed for a weekend in November, I believe there were several weddings and a couple other events.  The service was great and it couldn’t have been located in a better place.

We were also surprised about the ease in which we were able to hail cabs in and around the downtown breweries.  We walked to most of them but when we needed to get out to Founders (and more importantly back, there were cabs waiting).

A great time in Grand Rapids.