Your Guide to the Best Breweries in Grand Rapids
We know that there are a lot of breweries in Grand Rapids… who am I kidding, there’s a ton of breweries across all of West Michigan and more popping up on a regular basis. Grand Rapids just happens to be the heart of this growth, owning up to the it’s nickname, “Beer City U.S.A.” We have scoured the city, trying different beers and getting input and reviews on ones that we have not tried. Our information has allowed us to determine the best breweries in Grand Rapids, and we offer that list to you.
Founders Brewing Company
Founders Brewing Company is ranked as the #2 brewing company in America so of course it’s on our list. Their signature brew, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, was ranked the second best beer in the world by Beer Advocate. All Day IPA is their signature session IPA. This beer really kicked off their retail operations and spurred growth. Shortly after this, Ratebeer ranked Founders the second best brewery in the world. They have expanded the facility several times over the years. Founders now includes a full deli, live music and an outdoor beer garden.
Now they have dozens of different brews on rotation for seasonal and special occasion. In addition to the previously mentioned beers, some popular favorites include Rubaeus, a sweet raspberry ale, Centennial IPA, and Dirty Bastard. They have created some unique beers for ArtPrize, an annual art festival in Grand Rapids. One of these is Green Zebra, a watermelon gose with a sour bite. They have recently released another gose, Mas Agave, which is aged in tequila barrels and said to taste like a margarita. This is a must stop place in Grand Rapids.
Perrin Brewing Company
Perrin Brewing Company is known locally for their exquisite brewery and wonderful style of craft beer. The brewery launched in 2012 and began distribution in 2014. They have several very popular seasonal beers including Blackberry IPA and their version of the Grapefruit IPA. Some of the year-round craft favorites include Perrin Black, Perrin Gold, 98 Problems IPA and No Problems Session IPA. Of these, Perrin Black is a unique beer that catches many people by surprise. The dark pour look to be a porter or stout, but upon taste you find something different. It is a black ale, light bodied but full of flavor, nowhere near as heavy as the color initially implies.
If you are a fan of IPAs, then consider picking up a “Pack of Problems.” Don’t worry, you will have no problem drinking this 12 pack featuring 4 each of their 3 signature IPAs. This includes their light and crisp No Problems, balanced and full 98 Problems, and my favorite, Lotsa’ Problems IIPA. This double IPA is dry hopped to perfection with a balance of earthy malt and citrus fruits. Be sure to stop in a give their beers a try. If you can’t make it to the brewery, don’t worry. Perrin sells many of their beers at local retail stores and there are a bunch of local bars that have them on tap.
Brewery Vivant may strike you as strange from the outside. That’s because they didn’t choose a typical building for their brewery. Vivant is located inside a historic and renovated funeral parlor. The concept for Vivant came from Jason Spaulding, a co-owner of the brewery. Spaulding co-founded New Holland Brewing Company and later sold his shares to begin his venture with Vivant. At Vivant, the inspiration of their beers come from Southern Belgium and Northern France.
They have three main beers that are available regularly; Farm Hand, Hop Field, and Big Red Coq. Farm Hand is a light, slightly cloudy, farmhouse ale with hints of sweet and tart. Hop Field is a hoppy and cloudy farmhouse IPA with a bitter yet fruity flavor. Big Red Coq is a hoppy red IPA with citrus flavors and a sweet, malty taste. Don’t let the idea of a funeral home keep you away, Brewery Vivant is worth a visit. If the listed beers don’t interest you, they have plenty of seasonal and limited release beers on rotation as well.
The Mitten Brewing Company
If you are looking for great pizza and exceptional pizza, The Mitten Brewing Company is your place. This baseball themed bar is located on the north side of town in an old firehouse. They have several other locations as well including one in Saugatuck. The Mitten keeps a large selection of beers on tap, including many rotating and seasonal brews. They feature many award-winning beers, including their Triple Crown Brown, and West Coast Swing. Triple Crown Brown, as you could have guessed, is a brown ale that features a roasted malt taste with hints chocolate. West Coast Swing is an amber ale with a rich and toasty taste complimented with a hoppy finish. They also have a variety of other beers, ranging from fruit and wheat beers to stouts, double IPAs and scotch ales.
Also note that this building is haunted, if you are interested in that. Their website documents some paranormal events that have happened in the “ghost files” on the bottom of the page. Don’t let this scare you however, this ghost is merely there and doesn’t seem to bother anybody. If you like baseball, beer or pizza, be sure to check out this little gem in Grand Rapids.
New Holland Brewing Company
Even though they got their original start in Holland, MI, New Holland Brewing Company has recently opened a new location right in Grand Rapids. This location, known as The Knickerbocker, not only brews their specialty beers, but also distills their signature line of spirits as well. They have a large selection of beers, ranging from IPAs and lagers to barrel-aged stouts and porters. They are consistently ranked in the top microbreweries in America and for good reason.
One of the best known beers from New Holland is the Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout. This American Imperial Stout has a roasted malt taste with deep vanilla flavors complimented by the oak barrel tone. This beer does pack a punch with an 11% alcohol by volume (ABV). Some other favorites are Hoptronix, The Poet and Mad Hatter. Mad Hatter is a Midwest style IPA with a bright hoppy flavor and crisp finish. The Poet is an Oatmeal Stout with a bold flavor of roasted malts, notes of chocolate and coffee, a light feel and a smooth, creamy finish. Hoptronix is a double IPA with a bitter bite, strong hoppy flavor and a crisp finish that justifies a nice “Ahhh.”
Even though Bell’s is not in Grand Rapids, I couldn’t leave it out. Kalamazoo is close enough to justify putting it on the list, especially with the reputation that Bell’s has earned. They are one of the Top Breweries In the Nation, right alongside Founders. Their Two Hearted Ale is one of the Best Beers in America. If you haven’t had a beer from Bell’s you should. Their selection of beers has a bit of something for everybody.
Two Hearted Ale, their signature beer, is full of flavor. From pine to grapefruit, your taste buds are blown away with this hoppy yet balanced IPA. Oberon, a seasonal ale is another favorite from Bell’s. This American Wheat Ale contains only four ingredients but packs a punch in flavor. It has a slight hoppy spice to it, with a full, smooth and crisp finish. Get it while you can because it’s only available for a few months of the year. If you are a fan of brown ales, Bell’s Best Brown Ale is a must try. This medium body brown has hints of cocoa and caramel that balance well with the hops for a smooth finish that has full flavor, yet not too heavy.
If you have others that you like, or think that I have missed, feel free to add them in the comments.