It’s not every day that I get to visit a brewery/brewpub in another state that is fresh out of the gate. Most places I visit on my beer journeys have been around for a while, solidifying their place in the local craft beer scene and perfecting their craft over time. But sometimes, I happen across a place that is newer than most and a good example is City Built Brewing, located at 820 Monroe Ave NW in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ready to Serve
City Built Brewing opened its doors in May, 2017 and, as one might expect, it’s a smaller operation. They utilize a 10 barrel brewing system and at the moment, they package beer only in kegs. The long range goal is to package in cans/bottles, but for now, draft beer is the only available option.
The interior of City Built Brewing is warm and restaurant- like and food is an important part of the experience, with Puerto Rican cuisine being the specialty. The way the seating is arranged, you feel more like you’re in a restaurant than in a bar. What I mean is that, unlike in some bars/taverns where you feel like everyone is right there, in your face, waiting to talk and get to know you, there is a feeling here of privacy. This is cool because it affords each guest an opportunity to sit at the bar or a long bench and mingle with the crowd if they like, or grab a booth or high top table and keep to themselves.
Speaking again of the seating, it features wood and green accents. The long benches are good for groups and the booths and tables are better for families and small groups of friends. I also discovered that some of the seats along the walls, against the windows, have electrical outlets, perfect for those times when your cell phone is low on power and you need a quick charge. The abundance of windows is nice, too, because it lets in plenty of natural light.
Lots of Beer to Sample
City Built Brewing has a very nice variety of beers on tap. Here is a summary of what I tried, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:
- Amore Estivo, Farmhouse Ale, 4
- Cascading into Darkness, Black IPA, 3.75
- Crème De La Cream, Cream Ale, 3.25
- Downtown Julie Brown, Brown Ale, 4.50
- Floral Saison, Farmhouse Ale, 4
- Flower Power, Pale Ale, 3.75
- GR Fjord, Farmhouse Ale, 4
- Monroe Weisse, Berliner Weisse, 4.25
- TKBY, Sour Ale, 4.25
Overall Average Rating: 3.97
They have a solid, highly quaffable lineup of beer at City Built Brewing. My fave overall, if I had to choose one, is Downtown Julie Brown. It’s a brown ale but it’s hoppier and less sweet than others of this style. The TKBY Sour Ale would be my next choice followed by the Monroe Weisse.
Small Size has its Advantages
City Built Brewing is new to the Grand Rapids craft beer scene and as one of the younger breweries, it is likely to miss visitor’s radars completely. I had never heard of it either, but added it to my itinerary at the recommendation of Experience Grand Rapids. They advised me that this establishment was new, but encouraged me to pay a visit due to its close proximity to my hotel in downtown and also due to the highly favorable reviews from customers.
I visited City Built Brewing on a Saturday, in the mid afternoon when it was less busy than usual. This was good because it afforded me some time to check out the digs and chat with the server about City Built and its place in the Grand Rapids craft beer scene. It was during this conversation that I learned just how new City Built was while discovering a few things about its current goals and plans for the future.
With City Built Brewing being so new, you might think they would still be working out a few kinks with beer quality and control and this concerned me, too, when I held a glass of beer to my mouth for the first time. But any worries I might have had vanished within seconds, as each and every glass of beer was brewed with quality in mind and was every bit as good as beer from a brewery with multiple years of experience. As I said before, I loved the Downtown Julie Brown best, but notice that I also gave very high marks to one of the sour ales and a Berliner weisse. This really says something because these are not styles that I usually rate very highly; or shall I say, not styles that I rank among the best of the beers I try when I visit a new brewery. However, they really tasted exceptional and they showcase the skill and care that City Built Brewing injects into everything it brews and serves.
One other thing that must be noted about City Built Brewing is the food. When I visited, I had just consumed far too much food at my previous gig and therefore was in no mood to eat, not even a little. But I must mention the food because people who have visited City Built Brewing cannot seem to say enough great things about the Puerto Rican fare. This seems to be par for the course in Grand Rapids. As I discovered during my brewery tour of the city, just about every place I visited served delicious, well- prepared, artisanal foods to go along with the beer. In other words, the food was an equal star with the beer in a two- person talent show.
Grand Rapids, Michigan is certainly a grand place for fine craft beer and City Built Brewing is a place not to miss. Does size matter? Most think larger is the way to go, but City Built Brewing shows that you don’t have to be big in order to satisfy. It’s a small player at the moment, but if City Built Brewing continues its customer- focused, quality assurance ways, it could be well on its way to becoming a major contender in the Grand Rapids beer and culinary scene. Pay a visit to City Built Brewing the next time you’re in Grand Rapids. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.