Whenever I visit a new city on a brewery tour, one thing seems inevitable: There is almost always a brewery that takes its name not from something unusual or hard to pronounce, but rather from the place in which it is located. This may strike some people as uncreative, but it makes the brewery easy to remember and helps it stand out, especially if the brewery is one of dozens in the city. Such is the case with Grand Rapids Brewing, located at 171 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Step Right This Way
Grand Rapids Brewing is ideally situated in the heart of downtown. From the outside, it looks like another restaurant but once you walk indoors, you discover that this is more than a restaurant. It is, of course, a brewpub serving a variety of foods as well as its own house brewed beer.
The atmosphere at Grand Rapids Brewing is quaint, with plenty of brick and wood, giving it the feel of an older yet well- maintained space like you commonly find in an inner city. The inside has several rooms and there is even a section of video games. The long bar seats about 17 people and there is a large cross- section of beer styles on tap at any given time.
Grand Rapids Brewing serves a good variety of food. I was going to order a sandwich at first, but then my eyes were drawn to the entrees and I ended up ordering the Bat Out of Hell Meatloaf. This filling meal consists of meatloaf made from a combination of beef and pork served with mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, and Texas toast. They top the meatloaf with a tasty ketchup and brown sugar- glazed sauce, for an added, homemade touch.
Time to Drink
I tasted a total of six different beers at Grand Rapids Brewing. Here is a summary of what I tried, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a 5 point scale:
- The Fishladder, IPA, 3.25
- Muito Obrigado, Strong Ale, 4.5
- Princess Peach Unicorn Fairy Glitter Sparkle Queen, 3.5
- Rainbow Universe, fruit beer, 3.25
- Social Bot War Pawn, Eglish Mild Ale, 2.75
- Sur La Lune, Saison, 3.75
Overall Average Rating: 3.50
Among the beers I tried, Muito Obrigado was by far my favorite. Aged in wine barrels and weighing in at 12.5 percent alcohol by volume, this strong ale serves up flavors like chocolate, wood, and nuts plus an obvious taste of alcohol. The result is a delicious after- dinner treat meant to be sipped and savored.
It’s All in a Name
Grand Rapids Brewing was one of many stops on the Great Beer Now Grand Rapids Brewery Adventure, 2017. Located right in the heart of downtown, I had no trouble finding this brewery as it was just minutes away from my hotel and walking distance from much of the inner city.
With Grand Rapids Brewing, you get a no- frills type of establishment without any noticeable theme or special marketing derived name. I like how the inside, with its wood and brick, maintains the original buildings look and feel. It’s like stepping back in time and it makes you feel cozy and warm. But don’t go searching for a specific theme because you won’t find one. That appears to be how Grand Rapids Brewing was intended, and this fact is evident from the interior to the establishment’s name.
Grand Rapids Brewing has about 18 beers on tap and is well- known among locals not just for its beer, but also for its food. Even if you’re not a craft beer fan, Grand Rapids Brewing is a good place to visit for the food they serve. I ordered the meatloaf and loved it, but I’ve also heard great things about the burgers, the brewhouse mac and cheese, the fried pickles, and other assorted menu options. They take care to bring you quality food and they offer efficient service to round out your visit.
Beer at Grand Rapids Brewing is middle of the road, but I really loved the Muito Obrigado- so much so, that I’m mentioning it again. The words are Portuguese and they translate to “thank you very much” in English. This beer was easily the most complex and most interesting among the beers I tried. I know that it is aged in madeira wine barrels, imparting wood and grape/wine flavors to an already complex brew. I liked it so much that I ordered another serving before leaving, making it my official end- of- visit dessert.
The city of Grand Rapids, Michigan is awash in craft beer and while most of these establishments have specific themes and unusual names, one brewery rejects all of that in favor of a more ‘getting back to basics’ approach. Grand Rapids Brewing is that place, and it makes a good choice when you want some food, craft beer, and friendly surroundings in a non- pretentious atmosphere. Pay a visit to Grand Rapids Brewing the next time you’re in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.