Dan VanderKooi

Dan VanderKooi

Dan VK has been following the Michigan Craft Beer scene since before Oberon has been available in 6-packs. Besides making the rounds at all the local craft breweries and beer bars, Dan also supports the local music scene, reads crime fiction, and enjoys playing volleyball with his wife and friends.

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railtown brewing softopen

Located in the Village Mill Mall in Dutton on 68th Street, Railtown Brewing is all set for a grand opening this coming weekend starting Friday December 12th at 3 PM.

fork fest article

Fork Fest brought over 40 different local food vendors to the Romence Garden & Greenhouses on Lakeside Dr. in northeast Grand Rapids for an evening of food, beverage, and fun. Admission include unlimited helpings to food samples ranging from small portions to whole plate-fulls while drink tickets for purchase provided attendees with a selection of beer from Brewery Vivant which included the seasonal Pumpkin Tart, hard ciders from Vander Mill such as Totally Roasted with cinnamon roasted pecans, and Fenn Valley wine.

crankers brewery mt pleasant

The Cranker’s transformation from Coney Island diners to full scale restaurant/breweries is now complete with the installation of bar and brew system at the Mount Pleasant location, the third and final of the three Cranker’s locations to receive the upgrades. Big Rapids was the first location for transformation with full bottling and production facilities also serving as headquarters providing the lion’s share of the beer for the Cutlerville and Mount Pleasant pubs. Lead brewmaster Adam Mills lends his award-winning recipes and oversees big batch brews at Cranker’s HQ as well as very limited small batch releases for the auxiliary pubs.

recap gr wine article

2014 marked the 7th year of the International Wine, Beer, and Food Festival with beer having just gained prominence in the festival over the last couple of years. Last year introduced the brewer’s loft on the 3rd level of the DeVos Place with long lines at the escalator to gain admittance and this year that trend continued with attendees seeking to try the over 200 beers available at this year’s fest. Some of the highlights for me this year include the draft selections from Cranker’s and the Bourbon Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter from Arcadia. This year also featured another bonus: draft beer selections on the main level as well with Pike 51 Brewing and Jaden James (Peanut Butter Porter!) sharing joint booths with their respective Hudsonville and Cascade wineries.

article rockford pub 2014

Rockford Brewing Company unveiled 7 new beers and brought back 2 favorites for their 3rd Annual Pub Crawl, a now pre-Thanksgiving night tradition in downtown Rockford. This year’s crawl featured the debut of two new locations: Ramona’s Table located in a renovated 100+ year old building on Squires Street Square and Uccello’s taking the place of Sam’s Joint which had closed before last year’s pub crawl. Marinades which shares a bar with Grill One Eleven, also served as an additional stop this year and Grill One Eleven was featuring their own nano-brewed Oatmeal Stout on tap along with Rockford and other craft beer offerings.

black friday beer breakfast dan

Opening their doors at 9 AM, Odd Side Ales has been encouraging patrons to wear the PJs and bring their breakfast on Black Friday, treating them to bottle and draft release of their popular coffee-infused Morningwood Stout for the last several years. For 2014, not only has Odd Side Ales introduced another new bottle/draft release, the Hipster Brunch coffee maple bacon stout, but in addition the emerging lakeshore brewery scene has some new players. Muskegon’s Unruly and Pigeon Hill Brewing Co.’s each introduced their own barrel-aged bottle releases and offered up their own Black Friday themed breakfast and beer celebrations, the occasion representing the first bottled beer brewed in Muskegon since 1957.


Trail Point Brewing Co. has announced plans to open as the first brewery in Allendale, MI. The lease had been signed for a prime location at 6034 Lake Michigan Drive next to Sam’s Tacos on the corner of 60th Avenue. The name “trail point” reflects the history of Allendale and Lake Michigan Drive as a key historic route leading from the Grand River in the heart of Grand Rapids leading west to the shore of Lake Michigan. As far as the brewing community goes, Trail Point should serve as a key spot on the brew map serving as a gateway location between Beer City proper and the emerging Lakeshore brewery scene.

knight Fest article

Hudsonville’s Pike 51 Brewing Co. celebrated their latest seasonal beer release offerings with Knight’s Fest, a tented outdoor event featuring a Saturday afternoon of live music, food, and games. The Knight’s Brown, an Imperial Brown Ale, served as the centerpiece of an impressive array of fall favorites including Bourbon Barrel Sabotage, The Sticky Quinn Wet-Hopped Pale Ale, Pike 51’s Oktoberfest and Grand Pumpkin Ale. Also featured was the Knights on Mastadons, the Imperial Brown Ale boosted with coffee.

recap dowtow ludington 2014

This year’s downtown Ludington Octoberfest Music & Craft Beer Festival featured an expanded 3-day lineup of food, beer, and music with additional family friendly options featured for the early crowd. Many of the favorite activities from last year’s festival were repeated again for this year’s festival including the downtown chili walk, MittCrit charity bike race, and of course the Bell’s Brewery sponsored beverage and music tent. This year’s expanded weekend also included an Octoberfest Kid’s Fun Run, pumpkin patch and harvest activities, and “Open Fire,” a new meat-centric event on Sunday in the beer tent.

vander fest article image

Vander Fest is the annual fall festival of Spring Lake’s Vander Mill Cidery bringing craft breweries and cideries together each year for an amazing evening of food, fun, and music. 2014 marked the 5th year for this event, and the continual fine-tuning from year to year has paid off with this year featuring the perfect balance of beer, food, cider and entertainment. A variety of outdoor food vendors competed this year with the Mill’s own very busy kitchen. While the cold and rain couldn’t keep fest-goers away from the outdoor tented event, inside the mill proved busier than ever with many seeking temporary shelter from the weather.
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