Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our Year of Touring West Michigan Breweries ~ 2017

10. Kitzingen Brewery, 1760 44th St SW ~ 4/4/17 
What a great find! A German restaurant (remember Schnitzelbank?) 

9. Atwater Brewery, 201 Michigan St ~ 3/7/17
With two other locations in Detroit and Grosse Pointe Park, this brewery took the ground floor retail space of the newly renovated building on the corner of Michigan and Monroe.
The L-shaped bar kept original flooring from Olds Manor, turned doors from 40 Pearl into tables, and has otherwise used re-purposed wood, including some from Detroit, throughout the place.
Our beer selections were laid out for us and we selected our four for tasting.
We opted for Hacienda Brown, Whango Mango, Bockefeller, and Supermodel Stout for our first flight.
The next flight was Dirty Blond, MacDaddy Cider, Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale, and another Whango Mango.
The method of keeping track of which was which got a little soggy. To accompany our flights, we started with some appetizers: Vegan Buffalo Wings (cauliflower) and Brussel Sprouts with applekraut relish ~ both are highly recommended!
Our plates were interesting and very utilitarian.
The menu is unique and consists of items 'Between the Bread', 'Between the Greens', GR favorites, and pizzas. Three of our choices came from 'Between the Bread': Got Seoul Bulgogi, Blueberry Chucker Clucker, and Mai Thai. The fourth item was the Vinny Pizza.
We inquired why some of the glasses had logos and others didn't. Apparently Grand Rapidians are helping themselves to souvenirs and the brewery will be phasing them out because they can't keep them in stock. So take your last look.
Our server, Collin, was extremely helpful, personable, and knowledgeable. The soundtrack playing was quiet and the TVs had no sound. It's an altogether pleasant place to visit, offering good beer, food, and service. They don't have logo coasters, however, which is unfortunate, but this place has everything else going for it.

8. Grand Rapids Brewing Company, 1 Ionia Ave SW ~ 2/28/17
The business has a long history and has been in this location since 2012.
Flight selections are fixed, which we found unusual, but here they were: Silver Foam, Samarai Session, Rosalynn Bliss Blonde, Senator Lyon's Stout, John Ball Brown, and Fish Ladder IPA.
No GRBC coasters were available but a fantastic pretzel loaf and some pretty good chicken wings worked well for our appetizers.
Our dinner selections were Mac & Cheese, Bacon Avocado & Tomato (not pictured, blurry), Vintage Burger, and Meatloaf. Food was fine as was the beer.
The restaurant is huge with multiple dining areas and bars, and a game room.
It doesn't have the neighborhood vibe that many other breweries have but it does have history.

7. Perrin Brewery, 5910 Comstock Park Drive ~ 2/13/17
It's an expansive space with the bar at one end and the 'food truck kitchen' at the other. Windows open onto the brewery.
Our flight choices were tiered, which determined their pricing.
As we sampled the flights, we partook of wings and onion rings, on what turned out to be a very tiny table for four but with an impressive onion rings presentation.
We picked our favorite brews: Triangulation, Perrin Pale Ale, Raspberry Blond, and Perrin Gold,
and then settled on our dinner choices. Cheesesteak,
Caesar salad with chicken,
Burger, and a Brisket Sandwich.
All the while, this artist/server was working on this piece of art, advertising one of their new brews, and we all had a taste of it.
Great space, great service, and good food and brews.

6. Knickerbocker, New Holland Brewery,  417 Bridge St NW ~ 2/10/17

A new addition to the West side, this huge building is impressive. Parking is all street and abysmal but as luck would have it we found an empty space right in front. We were first seated upstairs which felt like a dead and empty overflow area.

There were plenty of tables available on the first floor so we asked to be moved, and we were happy we did.
This place is massive with a circular bar and outdoor heated areas.
Our flights came back with our order sheets so we'd know which was which.
Whitefish dip was our appetizer choice and although it was a touch salty, the cracker crumbs were a nice touch.

Our beer of choice was The Poet.
Food selections did not disappoint:
Winter Vegetable Gratin
and Winter Squash Pizza
One last thing that is not to be missed is the bathroom, featuring a faucet that not only wets your hands but also dries them.
Service was superb and the facility is altogether amazing with so much going on, all under one roof.

5. Elk Brewery, 700 Wealthy St SE ~ 1/31/17
Located on the corner of Wealthy & Henry, this small brewery sports an outdoor patio for summer months. The 'ELK' name has nothing to do with the animal but is based on the initials of the owners, Eric & Lisa Karns.
The interior is minimalist and the beer selections are posted on the dining room wall and above the bar.
All orders are placed at the bar and flights were 5 for $8 so that's where we started.
Oatmeal Stout, Mud Wrasslin Brown, Brown, Porter, Red Ale
Cream soda ale, PB & J 'ale'y, Scotch Ale, Red Ale, and Mud Wrasslin Brown
Flights are identified in marker right on the board which works very well.

We started from a limited selection of appetizers, Bar Cheese Pretzels and Spinach Artichoke Dip. No plates or utensils were provided :-(  We also added the irresistible pickled egg and crackers, just because.
We then settled on our final beer selections: Brown Beer, Red Ale, & Mud Wrasslin Brown with one abstention.
The menu entrees were surprisingly interesting.

Three of us ordered the Biker Sandwich (pulled BBQ pork) but were promptly informed that there was only one left in the kitchen.
Red Lantern
The special, Sweet Chicken
and the Charles
The food was surprisingly great coming from such a small kitchen and the ingredients were inventive and creative. Live music was about to begin next to our table but we were on our way out. This is a sweet neighborhood brewery with no table service but interesting food and good beer. What's not to like.

4. Creston Brewery, 1504 Plainfield NE ~ 1/24/17
The brewery is huge and occupies a prominent corner at Plainfield and Quimby where DeKorne furniture used to have a showroom.
The interior is spacious and there is a second floor but we could never make out if it was seating, kitchen, brewery or what. All we know is that servers continued to go up and down the stairs. There's a nice bar but the space is mostly open and filled with tables, along with some booths along the windowed walls.
Our habit has become to start with flights and appreciate the unique ways each brewery offers them. Here were their offerings.
The coasters deciphered the clues for us. Very clever.
We settled on our selections & appreciated this serving/labeling method.
Appetizers consisted of Mini Chimis, which were exquisite ~ they were filled with goat cheese, bell peppers, and scallions, and were served with Habanero jelly. We could eat these every day.
The menu is interesting and large enough to satisfy anyone's taste.
Our choices were Beef Brisket,
Skirt Steak,
Chili and Beef Empandas,
and Pork Posole.
Up until then our service had been stellar but the Pork Posole arrived 10 minutes after the other three dishes. When someone from the kitchen brought out the other three, I said 'hey, where's mine?' thinking it was a joke and expecting mine any second. Our server came over 10 minutes later to see how we were doing and we mentioned the missing food. She retrieved it from the kitchen and all was well again.

Our favorite beer of the night was Lookout Beer, an Irish Red. They have a 20 barrel brew on the premises and the place is very worthy of a visit, at least to enjoy the most creative coasters in the city.

3. The Mitten Brewing, 527 Leonard St NW ~ 1/17/17
This is a renovated firehouse, with a sports theme, and is a popular spot on the west side. It's complete with a fire pole that doesn't extend up to the second floor but what a historic building, more than 100 years old.
Our flight selections were easily identified upon arrival.
And our beer reviews were easily recorded.
Label Up seemed to be the overall favorite beer. Then we had our pizza 'flight' choices.
Appetizers were superb: fish dip and bread, and cheesy breadsticks.
It was fabulous food, and service. Since the Mitten is known for its pizzas, we each ridiculously ordered our own, and we all ate the leftovers for a week.
Please get some Mitten coasters but we're looking forward to our next visit!

2. Greyline Brewery, 1727 Alpine NW ~ 1/10/17
This is a small space tucked into a neighborhood with an outdoor facade you would probably drive by if you didn't know what you were looking for.
Decor is minimalist and we shared the space with very few people.
One person was at the attractive bar and more joined him before we left.
We started with a flight: Beehave, Schadenfreude, Roasted Cider, and an Amber Ale. How can you not like a beer named Schadenfreude (it's the dark one)?

Our chosen appetizers were Mushroom Bruschetta and Pot Stickers, both of which are recommended.
Sliders are featured and we chose a few. Here is a chicken salad slider along with a maple brisket slider, potato salad on the side.
A huge Chicken salad served in a lettuce head, along with a roast beef slider, was a favorite. It was a lot of lettuce that did better being chopped up with the leftover salad ingredients the next day.
Chili in a bread bowl was our last entree, with no complaints.
Most of the food is served on paper plates, unfortunately, but they were high quality paper. Ten barrels are brewed here on the premises and it's a sweet little neighborhood brewery. They named one beer after this Steamroller, found across the street.
Service was great as was the food and beer. Check it out if you're in the neighborhood.

1. Harmony Hall, 402 Stocking Ave NW ~ 12/29/16
We got a head start on 2017 by starting at Harmony Hall in December, located in the old Little Mexico location.
There's a lovely bar on the first floor that tonight was closed for a private event, so upstairs we went.
It's divided into three parts, the bar area and two dining spaces that are both treated to live music. But on to the beer and food. Our first appetizer was bacon cashew caramel corn - it tasted exactly how it sounds,
and next was Chicken fried meatballs (better as an appetizer than the caramel corn :-) )
Beer choices were Name That Beer, Schwarzbier, and Golden Lion Pale Ale.
We had many suggestions for Name That Beer but moved on to dive into the food. Sausage is the specialty and two of us partook. Here are the Polish Sausage Platters, with different sides:
Everything was great except for the huge buns. We both ended up eating the tasty sausage out of the bun. Our other two selections were Grilled Cheese (perfectly portioned),
and Korean BBQ Platter, still with the big bun.
Overall, a great venue with families galore, great beer, good food, and a comfortable, friendly setting.