Thursday, May 09, 2013

8 Reasons to Vote Grand Rapids Beer City USA 2013

Written by  Ben Darcie
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8 Reasons to Vote Grand Rapids Beer City USA 2013

We're in the last two days of voting for Beer City this year, and there's no better time to cast your vote! Now is the time! Remember, you can vote once a day on each web-capable device you own.
8. The Facts

We have the most breweries in any city in Michigan, with 13 and more planning to open (Ann Arbor boasts five, and Kalamazoo, four). Grand Rapids is also backed by Ratebeer's best brewpub in the United States in 2013, Hopcat GR, and the best rated Grocer in the US, Siciliano's Market. Grand Rapids also is home to Founders Brewing, who has been swimming in a sea of recognition the latest few years, most notably for their renowned KBS and CBS. The City has received countless mentions in 'top beer cities in the US' lists, and has been receiving a lot of other attention, including being named 'one of the best cities to raise a family' by Forbes.


7. The Beer and the Breweries

People point at Grand Rapids and say “Founders”, but it's important to keep in mind that this city's beer culture doesn't thrive on that sole brewery. Founders has a wonderful supporting cast of breweries, from large to very small, that support our Beer Culture and help it thrive - including Brewery Vivant, which is the only Belgo-American brewery in the state.

  • Brewery Vivant
  • The B.O.B. Brewing Co.
  • Founders Brewing Co.
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
  • Harmony Brewing Co.
  • Hideout Brewing Co.
  • Hopcat Brewing Co.
  • Jaden James Brewing Co.
  • The Mitten Brewing Co.
  • Perrin Brewing Co.
  • Pike 51 Brewing Co.
  • Schmohz Brewing Co.
  • White Flame Brewing Co.

6. Home Grown Culture

A majority of the breweries here started small – in basements, backyards, and dorm rooms. Those locations soon turned into small brew houses. The beer culture here supports all kinds of growth, and if breweries should choose to remain small, they can do so. These breweries are owned by hardworking people who put in their time and energy and grew their breweries to the point they are today.


5. The Vicinity

An interesting aspect about Grand Rapids is that we're not a terribly large city. We have quite a few breweries, and they're all easy to get to! Even the breweries on the outskirts of the city are less than a 20 minute drive from downtown. This creates a unique and very intense culture that is not distribute dover the distance of a rather large city.


4. The Camaraderie

Grand Rapids brewers are never at odds against each other. The breweries are much more interested inhelping each other than they are competing against each other. Brewers are constantly sharing hops,yeast, and malt – often going out of their way to make sure their fellow brewers are taken care of. We have breweries within a block of each other – you would think there would be friction, but there's not. Point and case, the GRSOB (Grand Rapids Society of Brewers) is a collection of all of the brewers in the city of Grand Rapids, who meet once a month to talk, collaborate and discuss; These meetings have brought about the Beer City Pale Ale project, The Grand Pumpkin series, the Grand Imperial series,and, most recently, the 55555513 project, where brewers were challenged to produce a 5.5%, 55 IBU beer containing two malts and one hop. All the brewers produced their own versions and released themon May 5th (5/5/13).


3. Homebrewing Roots, Growing in Intensity

Homebrewing has been a part of the Grand Rapids beer scene far before our current breweries existed, and is directly related to how many breweries are currently in the city, and the quality of the beer that is brewed professionally here. As a beer writer, I interview owners very regularly, and do you know whatmost of them have in common? “Well, I started homebrewing in College..” Grand Rapids now sports three homebrew shops, including the esteemed Siciliano's Market, which hasbeen providing the area with homebrew supplies for years, fueling the spark that led to many current owners and brewer's immense passion. The last five years has seen homebrewing boom in GR, creating many homebrew clubs, public and private – so much so that the American Homebrewer's Association has chosen Grand Rapids as thelocation for the 2014 American Homebrewer's Convention.


2. Beer Tourism

“Beer Tourism” is a term that's being thrown around Michigan since last year's Beer City USA tie. The attention Grand Rapids received from it not only benefited them, but the entire state – especially the area surrounding GR. The city saw a significant boost in their local economy, beer sales went up along with the demand, and many breweries found themselves forced into expansion years before they had planned to. Holland and Kalamazoo also received quite a bit more attention as a result of GR's Beer City title, and are great cities for beer. People coming to Grand Rapids can take less than an hour drive and visit other Beer Cities in the surrounding area, boosting everyone's economy. The winning of the title brings attention to the whole state's beer culture, and that's very important to keep in mind during voting.


1. Grand Rapids is the HUB of ALL Michigan Beer.

This is the number one reason why Grand Rapids is Beer City USA. Not only do we have the breweries and the beer, but more importantly, Grand Rapids is the epitome of Michigan Beer and Brewing. Thanks to bars like Hopcat, Graydon's Crossing, Logan's Alley, Derby Station and J.D. Reardon's, people in GR have constant and easy access to statewide beer from these bars that specialize in regional and local beer product. Breweries all over the state have one primary distribution target in mind: Grand Rapids. Why? Breweries want to get beer here because they know how intense the culture is here. They know their beer will be appreciated and loved. Grand Rapids is truly the Hub of all Michigan Beer, and it always will be. This is something that no other city on the ballot can say. Grand Rapids is the symbol of their entire state's passion, love, and dedication.

Vote GRAND RAPIDS for Beer City USA 2013!
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).