Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Grand Rapids Brewing Company Will Be Michigan's First And Only Organic Brewery

Written by  Barb Starr
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Grand Rapids Brewing Company Will Be Michigan's First And Only Organic Brewery

Grand Rapids Brewing Co. (GRBC) today announced plans to become Michigan’s only all-organic brewery. All of GRBC’s beers will be made using only organic grains and other organic ingredients. The announcement comes on the heels of the city of Grand Rapids being named Beer City USA 2012 by the National Beer Examiner.

The brewpub, to be located at 1 Ionia Ave. SW in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids’ entertainment district, is being designed to provide casual beer drinkers, craft beer connoisseurs and people interested in natural, organic ingredients with another compelling reason to visit downtown's entertainment district. Mark Sellers, co-owner of BarFly Ventures and GRBC, said the decision to go “all organic” was neither simple nor without risk.

"Sourcing organic hops, malt, and grain is very challenging. There aren’t many to go around, and we had to do a lot of legwork to line up suppliers and farms who could sell us organic ingredients in the quantities we require," Sellers said. "We're taking the obligation that comes with calling GRBC an organic brewery very seriously." GRBC’s veteran brewmasters, Stu Crittenden and Jake Brenner, have spent months researching other organic beers and breweries to understand the challenges and promise of using products grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals.

Brenner, who grew up in Traverse City and graduated from Grand Valley State University, has been brewing for seven years, including two years at nearby HopCat, 25 Ionia Ave. SW. Crittenden, an East Lansing native, has six years of brewing experience under his belt, including stints at Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville and the former GRBC on 28th Street SE, which closed last year before being acquired by Sellers. In some ways going all organic takes GRBC back to its historic roots. The original GRBC was founded in 1893, an era predating widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

While some breweries in the region have produced individual organic brews, when GRBC opens in late August, it will be the first and only brewery in Michigan making a commitment to creating only organic beer. "Our mission is to create beers that people will enjoy drinking using products that are natural, sustainable and, whenever possible, locally grown," Crittenden said. The same philosophy will carry over to the unique variety of foods that will be offered using as many all-natural, organic and locally-sourced ingredients as possible. The brewery expects to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before or shortly after opening.

Like the other BarFly establishments downtown, GRBC will implement an extensive sustainability program that will result in the vast majority of its waste being recycled and/or composted. "Grand Rapids has so many amazing options for dining and exploring new craft beers," Sellers said. "We believe GRBC will provide yet another compelling reason for people to come to downtown Grand Rapids.”

About BarFly Ventures:

BarFly Ventures was founded by Grand Rapids native Mark Sellers and his wife, Michele, as a holding company for the couple's pubs. BarFly founded HopCat, Stella's Lounge, and The Viceroy and purchased McFadden's Irish Saloon. BarFly's owners are committed to helping revitalize the Heartside district of downtown Grand Rapids and all of BarFly's pubs are within two blocks of each other. Later this year, BarFly will open Grand Rapids Brewing Co., the state’s first and only all-organic brewery. For the latest information on GRBC, visit facebook.com/GRBrewingCo