Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Swing over to the 8th Street Grille in Holland for some great food and an excellent selection of beer.

Written by  Ben Darcie
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In 1990, downtown Holland was quite different than the sprawling success it is today. Many buildings lacked tenants and were in need of renovation, and some business owners took it upon themselves to help reinvigorate the area.
Property manager John Hutchinson took part in the renovation movement, and had purchased an old pharmacy on 8th street and was looking for a new tenant. At the time, there weren't many restaurants downtown, and in 1991, owners Jim and Sharon Deising opened 8th street grille in the old building.

“They wanted to put something in that would be family oriented that people can enjoy downtown,” Managing partner Michael Fitzharris said. The dining room at the 8th Street Grille is long and features memorabilia all over the walls of days long past in Holland, featuring old beer crates, pictures of the Tulip Festival in the 30's, maps, and all sorts of interesting things to peruse while you eat or enjoy their great beer selection.

“The first 18 years or so, Holland was a pretty quiet town in terms of alcohol and beer,” Fitzharris said. “We couldn't serve alcohol on Sunday until a few years ago.”

The mid-90s brought about New Holland and Founders Brewing, which both contributed greatly to the resurgence of craft beer in Michigan.

“Craft beer started to take off,” Fitzharris said. “It took a while for it to catch on in Holland, and things started to change over the last 15 years.”

With the rise of New Holland, downtown Holland started getting a lot more attention from beer lovers. Then New Holland Co-Owner Jason Spaulding had worked for the 8th Street family of businesses.

“Jason used to tell me, 'you need to put more craft beer on',” Fitzharris said. “I put on eight taps. They did very well, and I added another ten handles. Then about a year or so ago, we added another ten handles.”

Which brought their total taps up to 29, including a beer engine. The selection focuses on Michigan beer and seasonals, as well as a spattering of National and International taps. Upon my visit, 8th street featured both of the new Virtue Ciders from Fennville, B. Nektar Zombie Killer, Ommegang Fleur De Houblon, and even Stone Brewing's Espresso Russian Imperial Stout.

“The goal I have,” Fitzharris said, “is to try to represent Michigan craft beer as much as I can. Then I try to mix in some National brands, but a lot if it is based on what the customers are asking for and what they like.”

8th Street even began a Pint Club for their patrons.

“We have about 200 pint club members,” said Dara Nykamp, general manager. “Even though we're not a brewery, members get a pint with their name on it, discounts and member only events.” The membership is $40 for the year, and the next opening for members is planned for August. “We have the best beer selection around,” Nykamp said. “I encourage people to do samplers because I can't just recommend one!”

8th Street Grille plans on adding more taps in the future and maintaining their pint club, and with New Holland and now Our Brewing in downtown, they see a lot of beer traffic coming through.

“If you're coming to visit the breweries, we're a great place to stop in,” Fitzharris said. “we have a great selection of beer from the rest of Michigan. The beer is always fresh, and we have the best selection in Holland.”

The next time you find yourself in downtown Holland, swing over to the 8th Street Grille for some great food and an excellent selection of beer.

Ben Darcie

Ben Darcie

Ben Darcie has been homebrewing since 2006 and is currently the Brewery Representative for Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids, MI. He also provides public and private Beer Education and is a Beer Writer for BeerAdvocate, I'm a Beer Hound and three other Michigan publications. He is also the founder of Experience Beer WM and the 9wk Grand Rapids Beer Tasting Class (est. 2010).