By Marissa Bergen
Hand-crafted breweries are popping up all over the map, but only one can be Beer City USA, and that’s good old Grand Rapids, MI. So named in national polls and further given the title as Best Beer Town and Best Beer Scene by USA Today, the town boasts over 80 quality breweries making it a great destination for beer lovers everywhere. If you’re planning on a visit and want to find out what makes this city’s beers so great, here are some things you might want to take note of.
Beer Month: This is an annual Grand Rapids tradition that is punctuated by a variety of festivals and events. Those that participate can enjoy the Cool Brews. Hot Eats events where participating restaurants offer specials on beer and food combos. This is also the time to attend the Winter Beer Festival and become a Brewsader, earning gifts and a t-shirt in return for attending local breweries.
Beer Tours: Attending a beer tour is another great way to familiarize yourself with the Grand Rapids beer culture. Many breweries provide their own free tours, but there are also companies like Grand Rapids Beer Tours, that offer tours of many of the area’s breweries in one tour bus ride. Ride on a 15 passenger tour van to learn about the local breweries, the history of beer, and more.
Beer Hotel Packages: The hospitality industry has also jumped in on the Grand Rapids beer culture with beer hotel packages. One example is the JW Marriott hotel where their hotel packages can include four local beers delivered to your room, a brewery map and Beer City Passport, and two breakfast vouchers. If you complete your beer passport, the hotel will also give you a Beer City t-shirt.
Breweries: Of course, the real reason behind Grand Rapids’ Beer City USA title is its breweries. Here are some that are worth checking out:
Founders Brewing Co.: Not only is Founders the main attraction in Grand Rapids but it was also named the third-best brewery in the world. They are known for their Kentucky Bourbon Stout, brewed with coffee and chocolate and aged in oak bourbon barrels. Other favorites include their silky Porter and rich Breakfast Stout.
Harmony Brewing Company: This may not be the biggest brewery, but that might be part of the reason it’s one of the best. Harmony purposely keeps its distribution low to continuously evolve with the changing seasons making for quality over quantity.
Grand Rapids Brewing Co.: Not only does this brewery have quality beer, but they also embrace a sense of community while honoring the environment. Enjoy brews like their Peanut Butter Dunkel Tim while taking in the ambiance created by the reclaimed materials that make up their furnishings and local artwork that decorates their walls.
Grand Rapids is certainly a great place to drink beer. With quality, hand-crafted brews waiting behind the doors of their many breweries and a ton of exciting events celebrating their fine ales, you really can’t go wrong. If you are planning a visit to the area, find out what beer-related events are going on during your stay. There’s always something happening in Beer City USA!