In 2012, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Asheville, North Carolina tied in a nationwide vote as Beer City, USA. The Grand Rapids consolidated metropolitan area has no less than 19 craft breweries dotting its scenic West Michigan landscape and at least one more set to open soon. According to experiencegr.com these include:
· B.O.B.’s Brewery
· Brewery Vivant
· Founders Brewing Co.
· Harmony Brewing Co.
· The Hideout Brewing Co.
· Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
· Jaden James Brewery
· Michigan Beer Cellar (Sparta)
· The Mitten Brewing Co.
· New Holland Brewing Co. (Holland)
· Old Boys’ Brewhouse (Spring Lake)
· Perrin Brewing Co.
· Pike 51 Brewing Co. (Hudsonville)
· Rockford Brewing Co. (Rockford)
· Saugatuck Brewing Co. (Douglas)
· Schmohz Brewing, Co.
· Waldorf Brew Pub (Hastings)
· White Flame Brewing Co. (Hudsonville)
As a result. Grand Rapids has been catapulted into the forefront of craft beer brewing on a worldwide scale and received the following additional accolades in 2012:
· World’s 2nd best brewer (Founders) – per RateBeer.com
· World’s 3rd best beer bar (Hop Cat) – per Beer Advocate
· Top 10 vacation city for beer lovers (with Kalamazoo) – per The Street
· Top 25 world beer city – per DrinkingMadeEasy.com
· The National Homebrewers Conference will be held in Grand Rapids in June, 2014.
You only need visit Grand Rapids one time to feel the cultural and economic vibrancy that is taking place around its craft breweries and how that same vibe is literally foaming over into the community at large. This past Saturday, both Founders Brewing’s Tap Room and Harmony Brewing Company were absolutely packed. The region’s brewpubs, beer bars, and breweries are hopping (bad pun) every day of the week with or without live entertainment, as they have become a significant economic engine in the community.
It is quite a sight to behold as historic structures are lovingly restored and inner city neighborhoods teem with street life, commerce, traffic, and residents. Combined with the immense success of ArtPrize, private-sector philanthropic and foundation investments, cooperative regional planning efforts, and Michigan’s economic revival, the 1.3 million resident Grand Rapids region has become the place to be in Michigan and certainly the epicenter of the craft beer industry in the Rust Belt and the entire nation. There is a perceptible “can-do spirit” in Grand Rapids that you do not feel in all cities. The region doesn’t wait around for handouts or bailouts. Instead, it has picked itself up by its own bootstraps and charted a successful course towards economic prosperity. Is everything perfect? Of course not, but there is definitely visible and identifiable progress taking place.
Indianapolis, Columbus, and Minneapolis-St. Paul may get most national attention as vibrant Rust Belt cities, but Grand Rapids deserves to be included in this illustrious list. Kudos to the city, the region, local leaders, and especially its citizens for showing us all how to get “hopping.”
– Rick Brown