Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Brewers Grove Tour Recap of Grand Rapids “Beer City USA”

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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 Brewers Grove tour recap of Grand Rapids

17 Grand Rapids area breweries participated in the latest “Beer City” collaboration effort and this time around the emphasis was all on the trees. Every brewery involved contributed at least one tree-inspired beer recipe ranging from smoked beers, barrel-aged beers and even fruit beers. I spent the launch week visiting breweries to sample as many of the tree beers as possible, and visited a personal record of over 2 dozen breweries in one week’s time!
The whole thing kicked-off with a launch party at Harmony Brewing attended by City Commissioners.  Harmony’s own contribution Dryad Ale is a delicious golden Summer ale infused with Linden Tree flowers picked at Wilcox Park. Harmony Brewing also tapped contributions from the People Cider Co with a a barrel aged Cherry Cyser and Jaden James' Con Color Fir ale. Eastown neighbor Brewery Vivant (down the road from Harmony) tapped their own contribution: a Jack Daniels barrel-aged version of the Big Red Coq called the Whiskey Rooster. An additional recent tree-themed beer Brewery Vivant participated in for a separate project is the Blandford Maple Amber Ale, using 20 gallons of maple syrup from the nature center and included a limited can release.

Downtown GR featured a contribution from Founders Brewing Co.  with their 100-Year Oak IPA (Centennial IPA aged on oak.) Founders also recently launched their latest Backstage release which coincidentally happens to be another tree-themed beer the Mango Magnifico con Calor. Hopcat went “wild” with their release of the grapefruit pale “Weird Ale Spankovic,” while Grand Rapids Brewing Co. released a bourbon-aged Brewer’s Grove Spruce IPA. Mitten Brewing served up a Pine Tar Maple IPA.

Also downtown, The B.O.B.  had their own tapping release party featuring live music from singer/songwriter Sam Kenny and $2 off all tree themed beer of which they were featuring the following: Tangerine Trees, Smoked Wit & Robert the Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.

Elsewhere in the greater Grand Rapids area, the recently rebranded Cellar Brewing Co. in Sparta contributed an Apple IPA to the project, which also debuted at this year’s Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti. Rockford Brewing tapped a cherry-wood smoked Dunkelweizen dubbed “Kirsche Me Under the Cherry Tree” in conjunction with their Free Live Music Thursdays while the not so distant Perrin Brewing brewed up a White Fir Maple Wheat.

In yet another excursion, I was very impressed with Cranker’s Oakenshield Stout, White Flame’s Maple Cookie Monster Brown and Pike 51’s Life’s a Peach! all of which were participating in the Brewer’s Grove project. And likewise included was the Hideout with their Spruce Tip Summer Ale (also tapped at the WGRD Beer fest,) and Shmohz with two brews for the project, a Smoked Maple Brown and a Juniper Rye.

The project has been coordinated in conjunction with the Friends of GR Parks / Urban Forest Project and proceeds fund a “Brewers Grove” of trees (in most cases a $1 from every pint  was used to build up a “tree bank” for the project.) A ceremony and growler-friendly planting event is scheduled for October 17th at Riverside Park, with the Mi Beer Film to be shown in the evening.


Dan VanderKooi

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VK has been following the Michigan Craft Beer scene since before Oberon has been available in 6-packs. Besides making the rounds at all the local craft breweries and beer bars, Dan also supports the local music scene, reads crime fiction, and enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and friends.