Monday, November 11, 2013

A Guide to Beer City, Vegan Style

Written by  Dan VanderKooi
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 A Guide to Beer City, Vegan Style

In addition to being widely recognized for the beer accolades, Grand Rapids also has a great reputation for being a vegan-friendly City. One may not immediately recognize the two things as going hand in hand, but in actuality there are some surprising connections. To start with, beer as a beverage can be a good fit in vegan diet, with only a few styles (i.e. Milk Stout) being inherently non-vegan. So where are some good places to enjoy a vegan meal along with your favorite Michigan Craft beers?
Eastown is certainly a great destination for both vegans and Craft Beer lovers alike. For one, Brewery Vivant has been including vegan options with their seasonal menu. The current (Fall) menu features an open face Bean and Walnut Pate. Nearby Harmony Brewing Company features the “Slide Whistle” as one of their many pizza varieties, which uses a white bean sauce instead of cheese along with spinach, red onions and artichoke hearts. I also recommend their new lunch menu with options that include The Sid Delicious featuring similar toppings but in sandwich form as well as kalamata olives. Harmony and Brewery Vivant were also given a nod in the 2013 edition of “Veggie Girls Gone Pin-Up” calendar which promoted their beers for one of the calendar’s months. A 2014 calendar is in the works, and more info can be found on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/VeggieGirlsGonePinUp

Brick Road Pizza on Wealthy St. is another great option, especially now that they’ve expanded with a full bar behind the restaurant. The pizzeria offers a full range of vegan pizza options with the use of Daiya dairy-free cheese as well as plenty of vegan-based meat substitutes. You’ll also find a similar variety at the Mitten Brewing Co. as co-owner Chris Andrus is a vegan himself and wanted to make sure every pizza could be ordered off the menu and prepared vegan. Yes, this means you can order a “Meat-Lovers” pizza and they will prepare it vegan for you! Other downtown breweries are more limited with their options, but the B.O.B.’s newly expanded brewery includes vegan dogs as an option on their new menu. Grand Rapids Brewing Company and Hopcat are pretty limited, but I do recommend Stella’s as their signature world-recognized burgers can be ordered vegan.

Keep an eye out on Jefferson St. downtown, where Ryan Cappelletti (of the pro-Michigan beer film Locally Buzzed,) has been involved with two vegan friendly restaurants, first the Bartertown Diner and more recently CULT Pizza. These establishments do not serve beer, but The People Cider Co. is looking to open a pub next door, and hard cider is both gluten-free and vegan. Also, keep an eye out on Vegan Drinks, which is hosting their first ever of several quarterly planned meetups Tuesday, November 12th at Rezervoir Lounge. The first event is already at capacity so if interested, make sure to RSVP early for the second meetup which is scheduled for February 11th at Speak EZ Lounge. Both of these establishments offer vegan menus and many great Michigan Craft beer selections. Vegan Drinks is sure to be a great source of future establishments that are both vegan and Michigan beer-friendly. Find out more on their Facebook page here: http://vegangr.com/vegan-drinks/

“Veggie Girls Gone Pin-Up” photo credits:

Model: Kolene Allen

Photographer: Postcard Photos

Hair & MakeUp: Stephanie Stowbridge

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.