What countries come to mind when you think of beer? Most of us can rattle off a few places known for their long history of beer and brewing but at or near the top of any list is the nation of Germany. Given this European nation’s expertise in all things beer, it’s not surprising that German themed events and breweries are so common in the United States. And one place that looks and feels like the German motherland is Harmony Hall, a brewery/brewpub located at 401 Stocking Ave. NW in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
A Taste of Bavaria
Approaching Harmony Hall, one can quickly tell that there is beer up ahead. The building itself features a Bavarian style structure and is quite large, with two full levels and an outdoor patio on the second level. The building has multiple rooms, some of which can be rented out for private parties. About 200 can fit in the upstairs section alone, where there are multiple rooms and long tables, much like you would find in a German Beer Hall.
The Germanic nature of Harmony Hall goes beyond the building’s exterior. One quick glance at the menu and you will, once again, feel like you’re sitting in a German restaurant. Homemade pretzels are a Harmony Hall specialty and they have several styles of sausages made in house. I had a tough time deciding what to eat, but after much debate, I ordered the Hopwurst and found it absolutely divine and a great match for my beer. The sausage is made using Harmony Hall’s own Fiddlestix IPA and is topped with red cabbage slaw and house-made bourbon bacon jam. It was absolutely amazing paired with a glass of Harmony Hall’s own beer.
Bring me the Brew
I tried a total of five beers when I visited Harmony Hall. Here is a quick recap, listed alphabetically by name, followed by the style and my Untappd rating on a five point scale:
- Albius Vanilla Porter, Porter, 3.25
- Capricorn Sweet Stout, Milk Stout, 4
- Day Walker Ginger Red Ale, Red Ale, 3.75
- Fiddlestix IPA, American IPA, 3.25
- Star Stuff, Belgian Dubbel, 3.75
Overall Average Rating: 3.60
I liked what I tasted at Harmony Hall and my favorite in the pack was the Capricorn Sweet Stout. Creamy, chocolatey, and spicy this dark beauty is brewed with absinthe spices, calamus root, star anise, licorice root, and fennel seed for a taste uniquely its own.
Germany Meets the Midwest
Harmony Hall is yet another memorable brewing operation here in the great city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This was one of my many stops during the Great Beer Now Grand Rapids Brewery Tour 2017 and among the brewpubs I visited, this one was probably the most impressive. The large building, with its Bavarian appearance, took me by surprise and quickly pulled me in, for a closer and more intimate look.
I visited Harmony Hall for lunch and there were few people present. At first, I assumed the brewhouse likely occupied most of the space on the lower level but closer examination reveals that there is more room for guests than I thought. The downstairs has separate space for customers and private parties and the upstairs stretches farther than you would imagine. I sat on the patio while I ate my lunch and drank my brew but once finished, I took a quick walk around. I’m glad I did, because it was then that I noticed the large rooms, decorative features, etc.
I enjoyed my beer at Harmony Hall, but I have to say that I was more impressed by the food. The Hopwurst I ordered was the bomb and with its topping of red cabbage, it looks as cool as it tastes. Harmony Hall serves several sausages to suit your fancy and there is even a vegan option for those who opt out of meat. Yes, they have burgers, salads, and some of the common pub fare, but you would be foolish not to go for the German inspired foods, as they are every bit as amazing as they sound.
Harmony Hall’s brewery is on the first level, on one side of the building. They do not bottle or can any beer at this time, but if you must have beer to go, you can get some in a crowler. I was here for only a short time and needed to move on to my next brewery, but I was tempted to get more of that Capricorn Sweet Stout. If Grand Rapids didn’t have laws against open containers, there is an excellent chance I would have ordered a serving to go as I walked down the street to my next brewery adventure.
Service at Harmony Hall is attentive and efficient. I never had to wait long or ask for anything- my server was right there, making sure I was taken care of before I needed to speak. About the only thing I didn’t get to do during my visit was tour the actual brewhouse and talk to those who brew the beer. It was a little early for that but oh well- I now have a reason for a return visit, right?
Germany is a nation noted for its larger than life beer culture. America has rightfully adopted German- influenced foods, themes, beers, and so forth into many of our cultural events, dining establishments, and brewing operations. Harmony Hall is a good choice when you want a taste of Germany in the Midwest and it’s a brewpub with much to offer, from the décor to the food to the beer to the service. Pay a visit the next time you’re in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And tell them Great Beer Now sent you.