Category Archives: Beer

Good tunes, great food at ‘Music at the Market’, July 19

By Downtown Market GR

Stop by during Music at the Market to enjoy a little after-hours live music!

What’s better than good tunes, great food, and delicious drinks? Aperitivo, Love’s Ice Cream, Rocket Pies, Slows Bar-B-Q, and Social Kitchen & Bar are open late!

On July 19 from 7-9 pm, enjoy live strolling music while soaking in the sun on Downtown Market’s patios.


On tap: July is beer month, Bell’s new coffee stout

July is Michigan Craft Beer Month.

By Montae Harris


As beer continues to remain popular in Western Michigan and across the state, the Michigan Brewers Guild has labeled July as Michigan Craft Beer Month with the celebration of the Guild’s 20th anniversary.


Michigan Brewers Guild was created in 1997, hosting its first festival in July 1998. This year, produced by its members Breweries, the Guild will again be hosting four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan Craft Beer. The festivals attract more than 3,500 people each year, according to supplied material.


The first event, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival will take place July 21-22 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town. Other upcoming festivals include: Saturday, Sept. 9, UP Beer Festival, in Marquette; and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, at Eastern Market in Detroit.


With the number of breweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation — with claims of being The Great Beer State.


For ticket and more information visit .


Bell’s announces coffee milk stout offering


Comstock’s Bell’s Brewery recently announced its new addition to its beer offerings, set to be released this fall as part of its specialty lineup.


Arabicadabra, a coffee milk stout with ABV of 5.5 percent, made to debut on draught in 12-ounce bottles, packaged in six packs, this upcoming October, according to Bell’s.


“This year, we are changing things up a bit,” said Laura Bell, CEO of Bell’s. “Arabicadabra is a different take on a coffee stout and very similar to a local favorite that was released at our pub and at some events. It’s time to share it with an even larger audience.”


The beer was inspired by Milchkaffe, another Bell’s specialty beer, which debuted 2015, with the mix of milk stout.


For more information on this upcoming beverage visit bellsbeer.Com .


Take 2: Tastes & music at West Michigan breweries, wineries

Beer tasting and live music go together quite well in the summer at local and West Michigan breweries and wineries.

By K.D. Norris


If summer in West Michigan means anything, it is day-trips on sunny days to taste some brews (or other beverage of choice) and listen to some music. And local breweries and wineries are among the best places to do so.


Following is the latest of an ever-changing list of some summer offerings, in kind-of near-to-far listing:


Sparta has two concerts planned for their Concerts in Rogers Park series, scheduled for Wednesday June 21 and June 28 — and, just in case you did not know, Sparta’s Cellar Brewing Company this year moved downtown and expanded, and it has nights of music as well. For more information visit


The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids will host its Music at the Market series with music planned Thursday, June 22, July 19, and Aug. 16. from 7-9 p.m. — not only will there be food selections galore but remember that Aperitivo has great Michigan (and elsewhere) wines. For more information visit


The Arcadia Brewing Company’s Riversedge Summer Music Festival Series in Kalamazoo, will host festivals on Saturday, June 24, as well as on July 22, Aug. 12, and Sept. 16. Tickets are $10 per event or $30 for all four. Children and young adults (under 20) are free to attend. For more information visit


Bell’s Brewery’s Beer Garden music also started in June and will continue into September. Bells garden in downtown Kalamazoo will host music acts including Billy Strings, Drive-by-Truckers, Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan), The Verve Pipe, and The New Pornographers. For more information visit


Virtue Cider in Fennville is hosting live music throughout the summer. With their new lawn seating and new outdoor stage, the venue has a full season of entertainment planned — and great cider. For more information visit


Round Barn Winery in Baroda has outdoor music all summer long, including Barodeo on July 15-16 and Makers Market on July 29-30. Each event features music acts from across the state, wine and food. For more information visit


And, late in the summer, will be maybe the “Mother of All” brew and music events in West Michigan, the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Fest, featuring a variety of breweries, cideries, meaderies, and wineries on Aug.11-12. For more information visit


Old-time brews: New Holland Brewing plans ‘throwback beer’ releases

New Holland Brewery will be serving up some oldies but goodies during its “throwback” beer release event June 10. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, New Holland Brewing Company plans to release six throwback beers — both fan and brewer favorites from the past 20 years — during New Holland’s annual Hatter Days Street Party, Saturday, June 10, at the brewery’s Holland Pub on 8th.


In addition to being available at the Holland Pub — located at 66 E 8th St., in Holland  — the throwback beers will also be available June 10 in six packs at New Holland’s Grand Rapids westside’s The Knickerbocker, located at 417 Bridge St. NW.


“We are thrilled to include throwback beers as part of our 20th anniversary celebration,” New Holland President Brett VanderKamp said in supplied material. “We want to thank everyone who has supported us over the past two decades by bringing back some of our favorite brews. It’s a special time for us, and we’re excited to revel in the nostalgia of this milestone with the community at what will be our most dynamic Hatter Days Street Party yet.”


This year, New Holland Brewing will partner with Kids’ Food Basket for Hatter Days. Guests who bring items from the Kids’ Food Basket Wish List to street party will be entered to win one of many raffle prizes, including a private beer- and spirits-paired dinner for 10 persons.


The throwback beer lineup includes Kourage, a brown ale was originally named “Dutch Kourage” and a dark, aggressively hopped brown ale; Zoomer Wit, a summer-favorite wheat ale first brewed 1998 with orange, spices and American-grown wheat; Y2K, from 1999, a barleywine-style ale with deep mahogany hues; Green Hornet, also from 1999, an American-style golden pale ale; Jubilee, also first brewed in 1999 — “It was a very good year …” — that harmoniously blends fruit and fermentation character; and finally Blue Goat, dating from 2006, this doppelbock beer is chestnut in color with a nutty malt profile from its Munich malt.


In addition to the throwback brews, Holland’s Hatter Days will feature free, family-friendly event where all ages are welcome for a BBQ cookout, live music from local and national acts and all-day acts from Daredevil Circus from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Hatter Days will continue with an afterparty inside the Pub until 1 a.m.


The live music lineup includes The Ragbirds, Mucca Pazza, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers, and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The afterparty music will be from Rusty’s Big Ass Band & Silent Disco, with  DJ Dr. Joel between sets.


For more information visit .


On tap: Beer Explorers gets cheesy; Black Goat soon on the loose

The Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program will team with Brewery Vivant to offer a class on the tasty relationship between beer and cheese.

By K.D. Norris


The latest Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is a partnership with Brewery Vivant as participants in the class will learn about pairing beers with a variety of cheeses on Thursday, May 11.


The class will be led by Brewery Vivant’s “Wandering Monk and Certified Cicerone” Ryan Engemann.


Although wine is typically assumed the ideal pairing with cheese, beer is actually the traditional beverage to pair with cheese, according to supplied material. Both traditional farmhouse products, beers pair well with a variety of cheese and can enhance the flavors on your palate.


The class begins at 6:30 p.m. Admission to class, limited to 40 persons, includes three beer samples and cheese samples, as well as access to the Museum’s first two floors. A cash bar will be available.


Tickets are $18, $8 for museum members, and all participants must be age 21 or older. For tickets and more information visit


Perrin Brewing set to release Black Goat


On Friday, May 12, Comstock Park’s Perrin Brewing will unleashing its Black Goat double black lager from its bourbon barrels and offering it on tap at the Perrin Pub. (Bottles will be available on May 15.)


The beer is described as “a bold, sweet vanilla bean aroma rises from the nose which is followed closely by flavors of complex dark chocolate and ripened stone fruit,” according to supplied material. “This lively lager finishes with a unique charred oak character and a smooth, warm caramel bourbon flavor that will exceed all taste bud expectations.”


A whole lot of taste buds can’t wait.


For semi-serious beer-fueled runners, a new pub run/crawl series

Runners and beer lovers rejoice! The Beer Flight Running Series is coming to West Michigan.


By K.D. Norris


If you haven’t already made your weekend running and beer drinking/crawling plans, HopCat’s Trivium Racing Team has a great idea for you — combine your two loves into one event.


Following up on last year’s successful HopCat Full Circle 5K, the people at Trivium have teamed with other West Michigan breweries to set up the first Beer Flight Running Series.


The series starts this weekend — Sunday, April 30 — with the Growler Gallop Atwater 5K in downtown Grand Rapids. According to supplied material, the 5-kilometer event features a free beer to all runners, a race t-shirt, a unique finisher glass, snacks, a keg for overall winners, growlers and howlers for age group winners, and a live band at the finish.


Next up will be the second running of the HopCat Full Circle 5K, scheduled for Sunday, May 28, also in downtown Grand Rapids. The event feature free beer at the finish, a live band, race t-shirt, unique finisher glass, a beer stop in the middle of the run sponsored by New Holland Brewery, awesome age group awards, and food.


Then, on Sunday, June 18, is the New Holland Pub on 8th 8K in downtown Holland. This event will feature free beer for finishers, live music, race t-shirt, unique finisher glass, age group awards, and snacks. Runners/crawlers can choose to run either a 5k or an 8k course.


The final run/crawl in the series, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 6, is the Race to the Bar Crawl — and this one truly can be a pub crawl. Runners will begin at a designated brewery and run to four other locations. Runners must get a stamp at all four before returning to the finish line.


According to supplied information” “You can take this serious and focus on the running; you can race and enjoy beverages, or you can choose to just have a fun bar crawl and take your time getting from place to place.”


Entrants who do all four events in the series will not only receive your finisher glass from each of the races, but also earn a beer flight paddle to hold all of the glasses.


For more information visit .


Review: Outlaw alt-country woman? Margo Price defies expectations

Margo Price and band were at St. Cecilia Music Center on April 6. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris 


60-second Review


Margo Price and band, April 6, at St. Cecilia Music Center, Grand Rapids, Mi. 


Diving blind into the deep end of Margo Price’s music, as myself and many in the audience did Thursday night at the St. Cecilia Music Center’s Acoustic Café concert, there were expectations, uncertainty and, ultimately, satisfaction — an experience not unlike first dates.


The expectations? That comes from pre-concert research revealing Price has not only played with Jack White (White Stripes) — and is the only country act on his Third Man Records label — but just last month was a prominent presence at Willie Nelson’s Luck Reunion alt/outlaw country concert in Austin during SXSW (South by Southwest). … Is there two more diverse musical mentors that White and Nelson?


The uncertainty? At St. Cecilia, Price comes onto the stage wearing a pretty pink little dress perfect for the stage of the Grand Ole Opry but with her exposed shoulders showing off a big ole tattoo. Then she kicks off the night with three songs off her newest recording, 2016’s “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter”: the beautifully modern sound of “Hands of Time”, the classic country sound of “About to Find Out” and the definitely oldie sound of “Tennessee Song”.


The satisfaction? Just watching Price and her five-piece band breeze through an 18-song, 90-minute set with a setlist equally leaning on her 2016 debut solo recording — a rough-edged if not intentionally alt-country collection of often introspective, intimate songs — and covers of the who’s who of classic and outlaw country.


The songs off the new recording were clearly the focus of her music, including my favorite, “Since You Put Me Down” — “I killed the angel on my shoulder with a bottle of the Bulleit, So I wouldn’t have to hear him bitch and moan, moan, moan” … Dylanesque lyrics and my favorite bourbon; what’s not to like?


But she also paid tribute and high compliment to classics such as Loretta Lynn’s “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven”, Kris Kristofferson’s “Me and Bobby McGee” and even Waylon Jennings’ honky tonk anthem “Ain’t Living long Like This”.


Price, clearly, is not backing down from her past or her future.


May I have more, please?


Price, coming up to her 34th birthday on April 15, is one of those classic country music tweeners, immersed and comfortable in the past but bringing a fresh sound to the genre — sort of a female version of Jason Isbell, whom I also really like. And, if there is any justice in the world, Price will be following Isbell into the world of bigger audiences and sales.


She was also greatly aided at St. Cecilia by the solid sounds of her band; especially deserving note were  Luke Schneider’s work on pedal steel and dobro and Micah Hulscher’s keyboard sounds — especially perfect was the honky-tonk piano sounds on several numbers.


The only complaint I have with Price’s concert was that I did not have a beer in my hand. There is something about a great country music concert that just begs for a hot summer day, a impending farmer’s tan line, and a cold one in one’s hand. But considering it was snowing earlier in the day in Grand Rapids, I was glad for what I did have on hand.


St. Cecilia’s Royce Auditorium was not full, but as evidenced by a show of hands asked for by music center director Cathy Holbrook, there was a large contingent of fans who had never been in the theater. Already known as an outstanding chamber music venue and a fine jazz stage, the Acoustic Café may have the makings of a up-and-coming country music destination.


Price certainly liked it: she pointed out at one point at the concert that her current small venue tour has seen a lot of big drinking establishments and it was nice to play to a little more focused audience.


Of course, I reiterate, the next time I see her I want it to be 80 degrees and a beer in my hand, maybe with Isbell.


Historic family-owned Italian grocer celebrates 112 years in West Michigan

By Jeremy Witt


Family-owned Italian grocer, G.B. Russo & Son, has announced a rebrand to commemorate the company’s history dating back to 1905.


For 112 years the Russo family has been committed to the Grand Rapids community by offering one of the largest selection of wine and gourmet food; craft beer and liquor, kitchenware, homemade Italian entrees and more. G.B. Russo & Son will now be known as Russo’s International Market. Russo’s will host a variety of giveaways, in-store events, and promotions spanning over a three-month period. A community celebration will be held in May.


“My grandfather left Montelepre, Sicily at the age of 17 and by 20 years of age had opened his first store in East Grand Rapids,” said Phil Russo, President of Russo’s International Market.


“He made it his mission to serve the community and fed many through the Great Depression regardless of background or race. He was an entrepreneur and risk-taker and in spite of natural disasters, the Great Depression and race riots, the store continued to prosper and expand to make us what we are today.”


In 2008, the business doubled the size of the store to 18,000 square feet and expanded parking at the 29th Street location. Today, the store has a 45-foot deli case with over 300 meats and cheeses from around the world, olives, fresh baked breads, oils, private label pastas and sauces, homemade Villa Russo frozen entrees, a vast selection of craft beers and liquor, thousands of wines, kitchenware and more.


Russo’s International Market is currently run by the 3rd and 4th generation of the family and in the past few years the business has expanded to include:

  • Catering for events, business meetings and more
  • Wine delivery
  • Custom corporate gifts
  • In-store educational beverage tasting events and more
  • A large selection of Michigan and Grand Rapids products
  • Additional private-labeled items
  • Expanded homemade products such as sandwiches, dips, sauces, breads and more

“In honor of our anniversary we will share history on Grand Rapids in the 1900s while celebrating the present and future endeavors,” said Kelley Russo of Russo’s International Market.


“It is our goal to constantly reinvent ourselves as my great-grandfather would’ve encouraged us to do.”


Historic Items of Note:

  • In 1908, Giovanni Russo moved the store to Division near Franklin. This area was once known as Little Italy. At that location, he owned apartments, Roma Dance Hall, Grand Rapid’s first pizzeria, a pasta-making factory, and warehouse.
  • In 1914, a near kidnapping of his 18-month-old daughter by the Black Hands Gang was thwarted by the Russo nanny. The gang went on to threaten and harass the family until the Grand Rapids City Police were able to build a case, with Giovanni’s help. The Grand Rapids Press wrote an article dated Nov. 5, 2914, that stated: “It was through Russo’s activities and his disregard for the Black Hand warning that enabled police to capture the gang.”
  • Russo established Roma Hall above the store on Division during the Great Depression and prohibition era. Throughout the Hall’s history, Giovanni rented it to anyone, regardless of ethnicity or status, for dances, weddings, dinners and jam sessions featuring the likes of Ray Charles and Jimmy Reed.
  • Known musicians such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Mary Wells performed for Roma Hall audiences in the 1950s and 60s.
  • Due to Giovanni’s acceptance of all races and economic backgrounds, his was the only business on the block not burned down during the race riots of the 1960s.

Visit Russo’s Facebook page for more information.


Public Museum Beer Explorers, Brewery Vivant host ‘Beer The Change’

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is partnering with Brewery Vivant to offer a special Beer Explorers class. (Supplied)

By The Grand Rapids Public Museum


The Grand Rapids Public Museum is partnering with Brewery Vivant to offer a special Beer Explorers class on Thursday, March 23, where participants will learn about the impact beer brewing has on the environment and what can be done to make it more Earth-friendly, while enjoying a special beer tasting.


The class will be led by Brewery Vivant’s owner and sustainability director Kris Spaulding, and “Wandering Monk” and certified cicerone Ryan Engemann.


The class begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held on the first floor in the museum’s Galleria. Admission to class includes three beer samples, as well as access to the museum’s first two floors. A cash bar will also be available.


Tickets for the event are $8 for members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older. Tickets can be purchased at


This Beer Explorers program will be the first of three with Brewery Vivant. On April 19, join the GRPM and Brewery Vivant for Pub Science at Brewery Vivant. Pub Science is free for participants age 21 and older. Registration is required. Please visit to register today. On May 11, the third class in the series will teaching participants about how to combine beer with cheeses. Tickets will go on sale in March for the May class.


Brewery Vivant is located in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, in a renovated funeral chapel built in the early 1900s. It is the first commercial brewery in the nation to receive Silver LEED Certification, additionally they are 100 percent renewable powered, a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business, and are a certified B Corporation.


Kentwood 50: Railtown’s golden ale a natural fit for celebration

Railtown Brewing’s Gim Lee, at the brewery’s tap room, will be serving up some spacial Kentwood 50 golden ale this year. (K.D. Norris/WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


Following the City of Kentwood’s special City Commission meeting Monday, held as the kickoff event of the year-long Kentwood 50 celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary, the reception was held at Railtown Brewing Company and the beer of choice was — naturally — a golden ale brewed with a touch of mango.


Two reasons for the beer being the natural choice of the celebration: a 50-year anniversary is considered a “golden” anniversary, and the brew was the pick of some staff at the city’s Park and Recreation Department, which has, shall we say, a relationship with the 2-year-old Railtown.


The addition of the mango flavor? Well, the parks people also liked it so that was good enough for the brewery.


“A lot of the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department are actually mug clubbers here, they have a mug on the wall over there, they are just regulars,” said Gim Lee, who along with his partner Justin Buiter opened the brewery in late 2014. “They are friends and they asked if we would like to do something special (for the anniversary celebration) and we said ‘absolutely.’


“A group of them came, we sat down and collaborated on what they were celebrating and what kind of beer would work with that. They threw a whole bunch of different styles on the table, what they might want to try. They, as a team, actually landed on the golden ale — this is their golden 50th — and the mango being a golden fruit, that would be a perfect pairing. They wanted something unique and mango is a flavor not used too frequently.”


Railtown is located at 3555 68th St., in Dutton but just across the border with Kentwood. Since it opened it has grown to be a 3,500-square-foot space at the east end of the Village Mall plaza. The brewery’s tap room has 10 taps and usually 10 different brews available, and it has started to distribute kegs to other restaurants.


While the special Kentwood 50 brew was tapped at Monday’s invite-only opening ceremony reception, Lee said it would be available to the public — just maybe not until they brew up some more.


“We will have it on and off throughout the year, so people should be able to come in here and get it through the rest of the week — assuming we do not blow it out that first night,” he said. “We’ll see.”


If you fill the special Kentwood 50 growler at Railtown Brewing a donation will be made to the city’s Park and recreation department. (Supplied)

Also debuting on the night of the reception were growlers with a special logo, which are part of the brewery’s continuing support of the Kentwood 50 event. The brewery will be donating a portion of its growler sales as the celebration continues.


“We are raising some money for the parks and recreation department by doing this,” Lee said. “When you buy a growler, we will be donating a couple bucks back to parks and recreation every time you fill that growler, regardless of what beer it is. It doesn’t have to be the golden ale. This will be an on-going promotion.”


As far as the process of developing the new brew, Lee admitted it was pretty much like Railtown decides on any beer it brews — they like to drink it, so they know other people will like to like to drink it. Although, he said, this time they had to satisfy more tastebuds than just the staff’s.


“We have brewed golden ales, we have done a lot of that. That part is easy,” he said. “We took a different golden ale, we racked it off to what is called a firkin, a 10-gallon cask, it is an old-fashioned way of serving beer. In the firkin you can dose whatever you want in it, that is part of the fun of using a firkin — you can add a little fruit, extra hops, a little coffee, whatever you want. It is a really good way to experiment with different flavors. … based on that, that flavor profile, we can scale it up to a bigger scale” for brewing.


“The (Kentwood 50) beer has been done for quite a while, and that was intentional,” he said. “I wanted to make sure if they did not like it at all, I would have time to brew something else if I had to. Its been done for a month. They came in and tried it, and I tried it, and my brewers tried it. We all thought it was pretty nice.”

For more information on Railtown Brewing Company, call the taproom at 616-881-2364 or visit (leads to a Facebook page).


Second day of annual Winter Beer Festival sold out

WKTV Staff


If you are thinking about attending the Michigan Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival, held each year at the Grand Rapids area’s Fifth Third Ballpark, you might want to stop thinking about it and do it.


According to the event’s website, the second day of the two-day event scheduled for Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24-25, is sold out. But tickets to the Friday night event, running from 5-9 p.m., are still available.


Tickets are only available online and, according to supplied information, once online tickets are sold out, no additional tickets will be released.


The 2017 Winter Beer Festival, the 10th anniversary of the festival, will feature more than 100 Michigan breweries and approximately 1,000 different craft beers. There will also be music from local bands and a selection of food available for purchase. Friday night’s music will be The Concussions’ surf-instrumental-rock-n-roll sound, as well Big Dudee Roo self-described “oft-psychedelic, Neil Young-styled folk rock” sounds.


Fifth Third Ballpark is located at 4500 West River Road NR in Comstock Park. For more information visit .


Experience Grand Rapids has announced it will partner with the GR Hopper to offer a $10 shuttle service to and from the festival from participating hotels. (Email or call 616-606-0467.)


Beer Explorers program teams breweries for barrel-aged comparison

Last year’s Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program will team with Founders Brewing Company and Brewery Vivant for a “learn while you taste” class where participants will sample barrel-aged beers on Thursday, Feb. 16.


The program includes discussion the topics of what makes barrel-aged beers unique, including sampling barrel-aged beers along with a non barrel-aged beer to taste the differences, according to supplied material. Representatives from Founders Brewing Company and Brewery Vivant will lead this tasting and answer any questions participants have on beers. Brewery Vivant will give participants an even more unique experience by offering a sour barrel-aged beer to taste.


The class begins at 6 p.m. Admission to each class includes general admission to the museum as well as three beer samples. A cash bar will also be available. Tickets are $8 for museum members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older.


Tickets and information available by visiting


Harmony Brewing’s celebration offers something for under, over age 21

Harmony Brewing Company celebrates its fifth year of business this weekend, and, yes, there is something special on tap. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Keep it straight: the magician is for the kids and the barleywine is for the adults — unless the adults like magic too.


As Grand Rapids’ Harmony Brewing Company celebrates its fifth year of business this weekend, it will offer an hour of kid-friendly family fun and then a little something special for the older crowd.


On Saturday, Feb. 4, Harmony will host a party and a limited edition bottle release of their annual brew, Birthday Barleywine, according to supplied material. Festivities include an hour of family fun, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. with brunch and kid-friendly magician and comedian PJ Weber in attendance.


The celebration will get a little more loud at night with the Vinyl Night All Stars featuring a line up of the most popular DJ’s from Harmony’s weekly event, Vinyl Thursday.


For those unfamiliar with Harmony’s barleywine, the brewery describes it as “a brilliantly clear ruddy copper color with a lingering lacey off-white head. Deep earthy, spicy, resiny hops are balanced with a hint of caramel maltiness in the aroma. The first sip is surprisingly light, and balanced for such a large beer. As the glass warms up, assertive hop bitterness interplays with a delicately malty body and a characteristic alcohol warmth.  The aftertaste lingers clean and bitter as the beer creates legs and lace down the sides of the glass.”


Seems a little like magic for me.


Harmony Brewing’s Eastown brewpub was opened in 2012. Harmony later opened a second location, Harmony Hall, on Grand Rapid’s West Side. (Supplied)

Harmony Brewing’s Eastown brewpub was opened by siblings Heather Van Dyke-Titus, Barry Van Dyke and Jackson Van Dyke in February 2012. Harmony later opened a second location, Harmony Hall, on Grand Rapid’s West Side.


“Its been an amazing five years,” Jackson Van Dyke said in supplied material. “Opening Harmony gave us the opportunity to pursue things that we’re truly passionate about: inventive, creative beer, simple but delicious food and being a part of building our community and city.


“Since we’ve opened Harmony has been a part of, and witnessed, Grand Rapids being recognized as Beer City USA, a national and even global beer destination,” he said.


For more information visit


Long Road Distillers to release gin made from all Michigan ingredients

Long Road Distillers will release a new seasonal gin, “Michigin”, crafted from 100 percent Michigan ingredients, on Monday, Feb. 6. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Even in Beer City, men — and women — do not live on beer alone.


Long Road Distillers, based in Grand Rapids, will release a new seasonal gin, “Michigin” — a liquor crafted from 100 percent Michigan ingredients including red winter wheat from Heffron Farms in Belding and juniper harvested by hand on Beaver Island — on Monday, Feb. 6.


The limited-release is the first gin to use all Michigan ingredients, according to supplied material.


“We’ve been planning Michigin since before we opened our doors two years ago, but we were struggling to find a source for Michigan-grown juniper, a non-negotiable ingredient when it comes to gin,” Kyle VanStrien, Long Road Co-owner and Co-Founder, said in supplied material.


Juniper is commonly sourced from Europe or the Pacific Northwest, but last year Long


Road spirits discovered a Michigan source, VanStrien said.


“I mentioned in passing that we were on the hunt for local juniper,” VanStrien said, “and my cousin stopped me and said that it was everywhere on Beaver Island where she grew up!”


Less than a month later, VanStrien and business partner Jon O’Connor were on a small plane headed to Beaver Island, Lake Michigan’s largest island, 30 miles northwest of Charlevoix. After a short scouting visit, it was clear they could find more than enough for a limited production run. During the last week of September 2016, a dozen members of the Long Road staff harvested nearly 200 pounds over a two-day period.


Long Road Distillers is located in Grand Rapids. (Supplied)

Long Road Distillers is located at 537 Leonard St NW. For more information


Kentwood parks and rec Craft Beer 101 program starts this week

The Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring a series of Craft Beer 101 classes starting this week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


It is not too late to fill your Monday calendar with a little beer (education) as the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department beings four weeks of its Craft Beer 101 adult education program Monday, Jan. 23, with a program at Jaden James Brewery.


The program — continuing on Monday evenings from 6-8 p.m. on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 and 13 — is for people 21-years-old and older who want to learn more about what goes into beer, how beer is made and the various kinds of beer, according to supplied information. The class will include tasting.


The classes are led by Ben Darcie, founder of Experience Beer WM and a beer writer, educator and self-proclaimed “beer geek extraordinaire.” The classes are for the beginner as well as the advanced home-brewer.


The program at Jaden James Brewery, located at 4665 Broadmoor Ave. SE, is called “Intro: Beer Ingredients and Process” The other classes, in order of date, are “Beer Tasting: Lager, Pale Ale & IPA; Hops and Brewing Them” at Schmohz, 2600 Patterson SE; “Beer Tasting: Belgian, Porter and Stout; Alternative Yeast and Recipe Design” at Railton Brewing, 3555 68the St. SE; and “Infection and Off-flavor” at Horrock’s Market at 4455 Breton SE.


Cost of the four-class program is $50 or $15 per class; and night-of registration is available. For more information call 616-656-5270 or visit


Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery to host KD aLe tour

Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery will host a visit from the Kent District Library’s KD aLe program this week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


The Kent District Library’s continuing KD aLe program will visit Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery on Wednesday, Jan. 11, for a brewery tour — and a little taste of Kitzingen’s speciality: German beers and German food.


The event beings at 7 p.m. The brewery is located at 1760 44th St SW.; Suite 8A; in the Chateau Centre strip mall. Attendees receive a discount on beer when you show your library card.


The beers produced by Kitzingen brewmaster Rommie Bailey include between 9 and 15 brews on tap, including an IPA, a stout and a seasonal authentic Hefeweizen, according to its website: “We’re inspired by the proud German brewing tradition but we will give it a healthy twist of the innovative American craft brewing spirit,” Bailey said.


For more information on Kitzingen Brewery call 616-805-5077 of visit . For more information on the library’s KD aLe program visit


Public Museum’s Beer Explorers pairs beer, doughnuts this month

The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program will pair Founders beer with Robinette’s doughnuts. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Beer and doughnuts … what’s not to like?


The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program continues on Thursday, Jan. 12, with a event pairing Founders beer with Robinette’s doughnuts, allowing participants to explore their sense of taste and what combinations appeal to individual palates.


The series of winter programs are held in partnership with Founders Brewing Company one Thursday evening each month through the mid-winter.


The third and final installment of Beer Explorers with Founders Brewing Company will take place on Feb. 16, and focusing on barrel aging beers. Participants will learn about the process of barrel aging and how different factors affect the taste and quality of the beer.


Classes begin at 6 p.m. and will be held on the 1st floor of the museum. Admission to each class includes general admission to the museum as well as three beer samples. A cash bar will also be available. Tickets to Beer Explorers is $8 for museum members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older.


For more information and ticket, visit


House-sitting in the Highlands with Hamish

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By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


Castles in the sky, or at least close — my house sit in Fort William, in the Highlands of Scotland, came in the form of a Victorian manse, complete with a lively companion.


The Highlands have long been high on my list, and I had two weeks to enjoy the fall with free accommodations in exchange for keeping an eye on this lovely home and entertaining my new furry friend, Hamish. Little did I know that he had 100 times my energy and would keep me on my toes about 14 hours a day. A Border Collie blend, Hamish loves to chase balls, from the crack of dawn (over 50 throws before breakfast) until late at night, with enough zest to knock the stuffing out of both the balls and me.


11Luckily, there was a jacuzzi with a view for some recuperation! The hot water and jets felt heavenly on my sore muscles — both throwing arms as well as legs from hiking.


When he was not chasing balls, Hamish loved to show me all of the surrounding hikes. The Scottish Highlands are rugged and gorgeous on both sunny and rainy days, and if you’re lucky like I was, you may get both at once, and end up with a rainbow.


But first, before going exploring I had to learn how to drive. True, I’d been driving since I was 16, so with decades of experience you wouldn’t think of it as a problem. But upon my arrival, I learned that all of our dog walks — twice a day — started well beyond walking distance. Hamish isn’t comfortable walking in town; he was recently re-homed and has a few “issues,” such as fear of thunder and cars, and a fondness for chasing sheep.


“You have use of our car to take him on his walks,” the homeowners told me, and showed me their big SUV, with, oh God help me, a stick shift. I have to say, this was the most terrifying time on my entire around the world trip — a stick shift, which I haven’t driven in years in a big SUV, the owner’s pride and joy, on many a steep hill on the left side of the road with double lane roundabouts. My heart pounded and I broke out in a sweat. I fessed up to my lack of skills, but they were kind and took me out in the countryside for some lessons.


27Once I had the hang of it, I appreciated the luxury of such a nice car with navigation that gave me verbal directions, since Hamish wasn’t much help in that department. We climbed through woods by rushing waterfalls in Glen Nevis over lush moss, past fields of heather and wildflowers. We crossed rushing rivers, and hiked partway up Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the British Isles. Hamish even knows how to climb over stiles, smart dog.


And speaking of smart, Hamish also knows how to ride the ski resort lift; he showed me how to board the gondola for drop-dead gorgeous views. His owners were kind enough to buy me a pass so we could go hiking on top, one of our favorite spots.


If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’d appreciate the hike near Glenfinnan, up to see the bridge where Harry’s train took him to Hogwarts. We even timed it right to see the old steam train, its whistle blowing as it chugged by below us. And there was lunch in an old parked dining car, where the service was up to Hamish’s standards — they brought him a bowl of water and treated him like an honored guest. Many movies have been filmed in or around Fort William, including scenes from Braveheart.


If you’re more of a beach person than mountain, you’ll still enjoy heading to the Highlands. A short but scenic drive will take you to the shore and one of Hamish’s favorite places. He’s not afraid of cold water and lunged into the sea to chase ball after ball, splashing spray up into his sand-covered muzzle.


Warm, sunny days alternated with cold rain, but still we hiked twice a day and discovered that we didn’t melt. With a rain jacket for me, and fur coat for Hamish, we shook off the drops and enjoyed the peace and solitude of being the only ones out. Fort William is the start/finish of both the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way, if you’re into long-distance walking or cycling.


The quaint town of Fort William has plenty of pubs and if you’re a hiker, plenty of shopping with no shortage of outfitters. Warm, cosy coffeehouses offer shelter, where I could take a short break from my charge — the house was just up the hill, so I could also take a rest from driving.


They say in the Highlands the midges are worse than mosquitoes, but I didn’t have a chance to find out — apparently in September, I had just missed midge season, barely by a smidge.


The house on the hill had magnificent views, overlooking Loch Linnhe and Fort William. With a turret and rooftop garden, sunken tub inside and jacuzzi out back, a fireplace with lots of wood ready to keep me warm, a library of DVDs, a wine cellar and whiskey cupboard (with permission to sample) and a grand kitchen in which to cook my stew, I was a pretty happy camper. Yes, I was kept on my toes as Hamish isn’t one to rest, but house-sitting in the Highlands was a heavenly haven, and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.


32About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”

travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission

Beer City’s airport to host new Founders flavored brewhouse

An architectural rendering of Prospect Hill Brewhouse, opening at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in summer 2017. (Supplied)

WKTV staff


Travelers out of Gerald R. Ford International Airport will be able to get a final taste of Beer City, U.S.A., in 2017 as Prospect Hill Brewhouse, a new eatery featuring Founders brews, will be opening as part of an expansion and upgrade of airport amenities.


The brewhouse will be located in the post-security area of the airport. The addition is part of a series of additions including two new Starbucks — one pre-security and one post-security, a restaurant called The Local @ GRR on Concourse and an as-yet unnamed casual dining restaurant on Concourse B, according to supplied material. A Burger Federation restaurant along with a Firehouse Subs is also planned.


“We are excited to have a local flair in our restaurant scene, and what better way to own up to our title of Beer City, U.S.A. than adding the Prospect Hill Brewhouse right here in the airport?” Phil Johnson, airport acting president & CEO, said in supplied material.


Prospect Hill Brewhouse is set to open in summer 2017, with the other additions occurring soon after.  There will also be retail offering changes including a Touch of Grand Rapids store featuring West Michigan themed products and in partnership with the Grand Rapids Art Museum.


Dawdling around Dingle

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By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


This time I got lucky on a farm (at least in terms of accommodations). I was a little leery after my other nightmare stay on a dairy farm, but Murphy’s Farmhouse, my B&B for the night near Castlemaine, was delightful. It’s a lovely place, perfectly situated at the start of the ring around Dingle, and they had a single room available which is something you find quite often in Europe that I rarely find in the US. As a solo traveler, single rooms are much appreciated.


It was a day of beauty overload. From the start — after a very tasty scrambled egg and salmon breakfast — my day was filled with stunning scenery for nine hours.


4First stop out on the Dingle Peninsula was at Inch Beach, which should be more aptly named Mile Beach. The sand is so hard-packed you can drive on it, although I walked across a wet shimmering sea bed so smooth it reflected the clouds and sky and you couldn’t tell whether you were standing on earth or in the air.


An old woman walked her little dog and a surfer carrying his board made a dark silhouette against the sea.


Surfing schools operated out of a couple of trailers and although a very small part of me thought how cool it would be to try surfing in Ireland, the bigger part of me said OMG that must be friggin’ cold! I didn’t want to leave but there was a whole big peninsula to explore.


The road was lined with huge banks of bright-orange flowers as well as many scenic viewpoints, so going was slow for a shutterbug like me. The winding pavement periodically narrowed down to one lane with cliffs of rock on one side and low stone walls barely providing protection from sheer drop-offs on the other, some of it pretty hair-raising.


9I followed a series of even smaller roads to a “castle” but it turned out to be more ruin than fortress. Patchwork quilts of green fields stitched the landscape together, and then the town of Dingle appeared, all rainbow-colored shops of Celtic souvenirs, jewelry, sweaters, t-shirts and lots of pubs and restaurants.


It’s a great town to wander and I stumbled on a little artisan cheese shop that had a sign saying they make sandwiches, so I decided to purchase a picnic lunch. I ordered an Irish Brie, tomato, olive tapenade and artichoke heart sandwich, and added a piece of artisan chocolate with a creamy toffee center for dessert.


But then on my way to the car, I got sucked into the Murphy’s all-natural ice cream shop and ate a sea salt dark chocolate and honeycomb caramel cone BEFORE my lunch, as an appetizer.


As I drove off along the winding coast, sun and gray skies took turns following me until I came to a fantastic lookout across from the Beehive Huts (some ancient stone houses). A large seagull sat on a fence post right in front of my car hoping, I’m sure, for a handout. So I had the birds and the bees, and a deep blue sea view while I ate my very tasty picnic.


Then I hiked up to the Beehive Huts to check them out and to use the most scenic outhouse on my trip, which also had an interesting sign.


12The sun shone brightly here, the sky cerulean blue, but by the time I got to the next scenic turnout, it was gray skies and moody waters, with people swimming and body surfing the rough waves.


And, of course, by the next scenic turnout, the sun was shining again and it was one of the most beautiful vistas I’ve seen in Ireland, all craggy shores with a foaming inlet, waves crashing against rocks, and green grassy slopes sliding down to the cliffs.


The road heads around the loop at the end of Dingle, then I crept up over the Conner pass, where luckily for me it wasn’t raining. Others told me when they’d crossed it was so misty and gray you couldn’t see a thing but when I reached the top, I could see out to the coast as well as a beautiful waterfall in full force.


Heading back, I ran into a sheep jam — a farmer had blocked the road with a truck full of sheep that were running out of the back end. He apologized, but I just grinned — it was fun to watch, especially when the last one wouldn’t come out and they banged on the truck; it was like trying to shake loose the last jelly bean in a jar.


Later that night after hours of driving around the whole peninsula, I stopped in a pub to hear a little music, where a gifted young Irish girl sang and played the flute, accompanied by an equally talented young guy on guitar.


Dingle is definitely a good place to dawdle for fine views, great food and musical entertainment, another worthwhile stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way.


17About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”


travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission



Wyoming set to have a brew, or two, with TwoGuys Brewery

Owner and brewmaster Tom Payne is in the process of renovating two buildings in the Wyoming Park area for TwoGuys Brewing (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


After nearly 10 years of working a small business plan, and recent action by the City of Wyoming, TwoGuys Brewing has taken over an old firehouse and a rundown one-time 7-Eleven convenience store in the Wyoming Park neighborhood and — with any luck to match hard work — should be serving up craft beer for guys and gals who like microbrews in 2017.


Tom Payne of TwoGuys Brewery. (WKTV)

“Now its about six months of demolition and renovation, were we turn this ugly old 7-Eleven into a beautiful tap room,” Tom Payne, managing partner and brewmaster of TwoGuys Brewing, said Nov. 10 at a friends-and-neighbors open house at what will be the new brewpub. “We are hopeful for September 1” to open.


“This business came about about 10 years ago,” he said. “I realized I was not just another home brewer, at least I did not think so. I had entered beer in outside competition, outside of just (treating) my normal friends, and it was taken very well. I said ‘You know what? I think we’ve got something here.’ And then my wife and I, after hours and hours of talking, we said ‘This is something we are going to do.’ At that time we put together a 10-year plan, and we are at the end of that 10 years. It is time for TwoGuys Brewing to open.”


An old 7-Eleven story will become TwoGuys Brewery’s taproom. (WKTV)

Opening the brewery and brewpub involved the leasing of two buildings located across from each other on Porter Street SW, the old 7-Eleven at 2356 Porter Street SW and an unused fire station at 2385.


An old city fire station will become TwoGuys Brewery’s brew house. (WKTV)

The leasing of the fire station to Tamaz LLC (an LLC doing business as TwoGuys Brewery) by the city was part of three actions taken by the Wyoming City Council in late November. The actions included granting the business a liquor license, a waiver of city zoning code to allow for the sale of alcohol within a certain distance from a church or residential area, and the lease of the old fire station, which had been used by the city for a meter shop and a temporary laboratory but was currently vacant.


City support of business


“The City of Wyoming has been absolutely instrumental in this,” Payne said. “We approached the city three or four months ago, we completely laid out our business plan and what we wanted to bring to Wyoming Park. They put together a timeline … a ‘we need you to do this and we need you to do this’, and we have done everything the city has asked for. … They have been fantastic.”


Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt made clear the reason for the city’s actions:


“Our region is increasingly embracing craft beer,” Holt said. “You can look around our community and see the many brewpubs that have sprung up over the last five years. We are pleased that TwoGuys Brewing has identified Wyoming as its location and feel that it will be a welcomed by the neighbors — and by Wyoming residents in general.”


Several of those neighbors visited the open house on Dec. 10 as well, and Payne said he expects to be an attribute to the neighborhood.


“The biggest reason (for placing their business in Wyoming) is that this is where we live, my wife and I,” he said. “I grew up in Wyoming Park. I graduated from Wyoming Park. I have lived, aside from my time in the Marine Corps, in this area and it has always been my home. When we decided to open up our brewery, it was going to be where we live and provide our neighbors with something they could certainly be proud of.”


About that name …


And the name of of TwoGuys? Where did it come from?


“10 years ago, there was me and one of my best friends, Charlie, I had gotten him started brewing,” he said. “So, long story (made short), we entered another competition and took best of show on an IPA (India Pale Ale), which at the time had no name. We brewed this beer at Founders. We brewed 10 barrels having won the best of show. … About half an hour before tapping, Founders said ‘You guys need to name this thing something.’ I told them ‘Its just the two of us, we are just two guys, so how about TwoGuys IPA?’”


Now, though, the name takes on another context, Payne said.


“Our TwoGuys, today, is, well … everybody’s two guys. You’re the other guy. My grandson is the other guy. Everybody is the other guy. I am just one guy. It is all about community, which is what brought us to Wyoming Park. … I will consider every guest that comes into these doors, starting next year, as the family, as the other guy.”


Plans at this point the business will focus on an array of craft-brewed beers — maybe wines, meads and sodas — as well as what the business calls a “pub-centric” menu of food. Payne’s brewer pedigree includes his having been involved with Osgood Brewing in Grandville as well as head brewer at 57 Brewpub and Bistro in Greenville.


“We are going to focus on traditional styles, beers that you don’t necessarily find everywhere else,” he said. “A lot of English style ales that no one brews around here …  I am not knocking any other brewery in town, there are some fantastic ones, but it is going to be all about the other guy, what they like.”


Tentatively, seating at the brewpub will be for about 80 with a possible outdoor patio planned. The property has about 18 parking spaces in front, with about 50 possible behind the building and another 25 or so across the street at the old firehouse.


The beautiful, barren Burren

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By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


What in the world is the Burren? I’d read an article about it on my flight, but it looked pretty rugged and stark so I wasn’t sure I’d like it. Turns out it’s a magical place (a description I use a lot in Ireland). The Burren is a region in County Clare and means “great rock.” It covers about 250 square kilometers, and the crisscrossing cracks in the limestone are called “grikes.”


I headed first to the nearby seaside town of Doolin. The sun was shining — an unusual state of the sky — which made a trip to the shore even more enticing. Doolin is an adorable little town with the usual brightly colored shops and pubs. I popped into O’Conner’s for lunch and ordered their seafood chowder, rich and creamy, served with brown bread and butter, and poked around in a few of the shops (there are only a half a dozen). My favorite, of course, was the tiny used bookstore.


16Then I headed down to the pier, for what I thought was a 10-minute visit for a photo of the ferries, until I discovered a whole other world — strips of limestone rock, pocked with holes holding puddles and daisies. These long striations go on for miles and miles. You can climb on them and though rugged, with hiking boots they weren’t hard to navigate.


Past the stone fence, I climbed on rocks studded with white and yellow daisies, along a deep ultramarine sea, under a cerulean sky filled with billowing white clouds. I was entranced. I hiked a bit, plunked down, and then didn’t move for an hour, watching the sea splash against the rocks in a cut-out in the cliffs, and contemplated life.


A man walked by, whistling, which reminded me of my grandfather who used to whistle. It was a happy sound and I looked up as he passed. He peeled off his clothes down to a speedo and donned a bathing cap. Was he really going to swim in those frigid roiling waters? He did. “Likely a bit cold,” another man commented passing by. I agreed, as I sat bundled up in my fleece and rain jacket.


8After climbing over big boulders, I ended up on a ledge, high above the water, which would normally make my knees wobble, but for some reason I felt okay, maybe because there was sun and no wind or because the rocks were rough and flat, so I felt fairly stable in my boots. The swimmer appeared far below, out in the water, taking huge strokes as he navigated without apparent effort through the sea.


Big gray clouds moved in, motivating me to get up and  climb my way back to the parking lot, past signs warning of things not to do and I reached my car just as the first raindrops hit.


Taking the scenic route along the shore, I saw lots more of the starkly beautiful Burren. Rain and sun took turns, and I stopped for another walk, not quite sure why walking on rocks was so much fun, almost kind of spiritual. The road wound along the coast and I stopped to pet some ponies in a perfect pasture with a million-dollar view, and fed one my apple.


The area is known for its music, so after hours of fresh air and exercise, I spent a bit of the evening back in Doolin, listening to the weaving of accordion, flute and fiddle, sipping an Irish beer, a fitting end to a day on the barren Burren.


13About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”


travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission


Matchmaking and the art of perfume and chocolate

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By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


Lisdoonvarna is the matchmaking capitol of Ireland, and I just happened to be passing through during their annual festival. Even though I wasn’t looking to get matched, I admit I was curious, and have to say it’s hilarious.


The town is studded with signs about matchmaking, along with hearts and cupids. A friendly old chap stopped to ask me if I’m here to get matched. When I told him no, he asked, “Have any of the old codgers come on to you yet? You should take 4 or 5 home with you; if one doesn’t work out you have plenty more to choose from!”


1It turned out to be country-Western weekend. Really? I came all the way to Ireland for some Irish music and I got American-style Country? When I sat down and ordered fish and chips at a recommended restaurant, the place was almost empty but as I ate, it gradually filled up… with 80-something-year-olds! I swear, nobody there was under 75, and most were 10 years older.


But when the music started up, those octogenarians flooded the floor and danced like you wouldn’t believe and like I wouldn’t even begin to try. One gentleman at the bar kept trying to get me to dance but while all the older ladies were dressed to kill in their Sunday best and high heels, I was still in my hiking duds, including my clunky boots, so I passed. At that point, the place was jam-packed, from youngsters at the bar to a few who looked 90, and everyone in between.


This whole area around the Burren is full of interesting stops, including small artisan producers creating perfume and chocolate. Maybe to use in the matchmaking process?


I drove along a narrow, winding road through beautiful countryside full of cows, stone fences and wildflowers, out into the middle of nowhere to find the Burren Perfumery. It’s a lovely little place of stone buildings and organic gardens, started as a cottage industry in the ’70s by a botanist and passed through a couple of hands to its present owner. They make wonderful smelling all-natural lotions, balms, perfumes and candles, and let you wander through their gardens.


15The tea room has baked goods to die for. I opted for a slice of the homemade carrot cake and a cup of tea made with herbs from their garden; whole leaves floated unstrained in my cup — mint, lemon balm, fennel, marjoram and ladies mantle. It’s the sensory details that make the place special, the sights of colorful petals, sounds of bees buzzing and birds chirping, smells of sweet perfume and tastes of luscious treats.


The next day, I veered off of the main road when I saw a sign for Hazel Mountain Chocolate. Another successful small producer, they have a shop where you can peek through a glass window to watch them create their confections. They make all kinds of different treats, something for every taste, and the place is rich with history as well.


Also on the property is a sweet little cafe with organic salads and amazing home-baked desserts. How do you ever decide?


When I pulled off down an interesting-looking side road, I ended up at a deserted abbey, which dates back to the 1100s. I wandered through the tombstones and ruins of the church all alone, under a half blue, half gray and moody sky, and marveled at the age of the inscriptions.


So if you get to Ireland, make sure you don’t miss County Clare and the Burren, and if you time it just right, you may even get matched.


32About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”


travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission



GR Public Museum returns Beer Explorers, with pour by Founders

Last year's Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)
Last year’s Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Grand Rapids area beer lovers this fall will again get a chance to belly up the bar and learn more about their favorite libation as the Grand Rapids Public Museum returns its Beer Explorers program starting Thursday, Dec, 15.


A sampling of beers at the Grand Rapids Public Museum's Beer Explorers program -- yes there is glasses of what you like available for purchase. (Supplied)
A sampling of beers at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program — yes there is glasses of what you like available for purchase. (Supplied)

The series — which explores the roots of brewing beer with hands-on experiences related to the brewing and tasting of beer — will include programs on Jan. 12 and Feb. 16.


Classes begin at 6 p.m. and will be held on the 1st floor of the museum. Admission to each class includes general admission to the museum as well as three beer samples. A cash bar will also be available.


The December program is titled “History of Beer” and will feature museum curator Alex Forist talking about the history of beer but focused on the brewing history of Grand Rapids, as well as Michael Steil, from Founders Brewing Company, discussing the science of brewing.


The January program, “Beer Pairings”, will feature Founders experts discussion why certain beers and desserts work together. The February program, “Barrel Aging”, will focus on the process of barrel aging and how different factors affect the taste and quality of the beer.


Tickets to Beer Explorers is $8 for museum members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older.


The Grand Rapids Public Museum is located at 272 Pearl Street, NW. For tickets and more information visit


Did you catch our story on the expanded Beer City Passport and Brewsader program?


Expanded Beer City Passport, ‘Brewsader’ program debuts

Not only does the Beer City Passport program allow you to get great beers, you get to fly your Brewsader freak flag with a t-shirt. (Supplied)
Not only does the Beer City Passport program allow you to taste great beers, you get to fly your Brewsader freak flag with a t-shirt. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


So many brews; so little time.


For those of you who, like me, are on a mission to fill out your Beer City Brewsader Passport book by visiting all the participating Western Michigan breweries and brew pubs, the constantly growing list of brewers is a pleasant frustration.


expgr-brewsader-logo-final-copyBut good news: The passport book now has an addendum adding nine additional beer stops to the original 23 locales — including Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery — where stamps and brews are available.


Experience Grand Rapids officially rolled out the second edition of the Beer City Passport last week. Among the new stops are Atwater GR, Bier Distillery, City Built Brewing, Creston Brewery, Elk Brewing’s Comstock Park location, Greyline Brewing Co., Schmohz Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing’s The Knickerbocker, and Fountain Hill Brewery at Grand Rapids Community College.


For those of us with a partially filled out passport already, the addendum sticks on the back of the original. But it is a little bit of a tricky maneuver, so do so before you start tasting at you next beer city stop.

The Beer City Passport, which debuted a little more than a year ago, has had more than 4,200 beer lovers get at least eight stamps and join the Brewsaders club, according to Experience GR.


“The Beer City Passport was a huge success in the first year,” Janet Korn, senior vice president of Experience GR, said in supplied material. “We created the second edition to add new craft beer locations and prepare for future breweries. When a new brewery opens, we will announce on our website if they are going to be a part of the Passport. If they are, visitors can go there and collect a stamp on one of the newly included blank pages.”


To become a Brewsader, the passport must be either take to the Welcome Center in Grand Rapids Art Museum or mailed directly to the Experience GR office. New this year, collect all 32 stamps and earn an Ultimate Brewsader wallet card which offers discounts on the Beer City merchandise at and perks at local businesses.


According to Experience GR, Longwoods Intl. found that 1 percent of Western Michigan tourists come specifically for beer compared to the national average of about 5 percent.


For more information visit and join the social media conversation at #GRBrewsader.

The Witch of Kilkenny, Ireland

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By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


I went for the arts in Kilkenny, and instead I found a witch!


It’s an hour and a half drive from Dublin south to Kilkenny, a medieval town, with a castle built in 1195. Picking up my rental car in Dublin, I was a bit nervous, since driving is on the left side of the road here but it was fine. After all, I’d had three weeks of practice in New Zealand, although that was almost seven months ago now. I headed straight to the tourist office and spent about two hours there, as they tried to help me find rooms for the next three nights — it appeared there were none left anywhere near the places I wanted to go.


People had told me not to worry about booking ahead at this time of the year — late August — as the kids are headed back to school, but they were off by a week. They finally found me some rooms although they were definitely over my budget. Just a reminder to double-check the area you’re traveling to for special circumstances. Sometimes it’s beneficial to just arrive at a place, as a lot of the nice, smaller places don’t use booking sites, and are also willing to bargain on price. On the other hand, if it’s a busy time, without booking ahead, you might find yourself sleeping on the proverbial park bench.


The tour office lady asked if I wanted to join the walking tour that was about to start. Sure! It’s a great way to get an overview of a town. We saw Butter Alley, where they used to sell butter in medieval times; the Black Abby, which dates back to the 13th century; and Smithwick’s brewery building, where they no longer brew beer (that’s moved to Dublin) but you can pay a chunk of change to stop in their visitor’s center to shop for merchandise if you choose (I chose not to).


Kilkenny is known as an arts and crafts town, and includes the Medieval Mile, with many shops lining its winding lanes along the River Nore. I just missed the annual arts fair, which was probably just as well, since accommodations were hard enough to come by post-festival.


12You can tour the castle for a fee, or just have a wander around the grounds for free. With notoriously gray skies and many buildings made of gray stone, the Irish find other ways to brighten their cities including flowers, graffiti, paint and lights. Kilkenny is not a town that’s too worried about safety — check out the security system on their kegs…


And about that witch…


In the middle of town, there is a restaurant called Kyteler’s, which was once a stone house owned by a woman whose four husbands all died under mysterious circumstances. She was tried and convicted as a witch, but she was rich (from her four husbands), and her wealthy friends helped her escape to England. Her maid was not so fortunate, and the punishment was carried out on her — she was whipped through the streets and burned at the stake, supposedly the first in Europe. Quite a sad tale.


The establishment is supposedly haunted and there are photos someone took hanging on the wall that show a mysterious shadow climbing up the stairs. There is also a curious story of an artist and an author related to the Kyteler’s witch tale (see The Spooky Story below).


Haunted or not, it is a spooky place but in a fun way, and both my tour guide and my B&B host said to go back there for dinner, for good food and free music after 6. I followed their advice and dined on traditional Irish stew — a hearty bowl full of meat, potatoes and carrots and after, enjoyed a lively room full of music and laughter.


My B&B Mena House, was a nice, big old house with lots of rooms, walking distance to town. I ended up talking to Catherine, the proprietress, for quite a while. She was friendly and funny and said she’d love to do what I’m doing — travel the world alone — but wouldn’t dare.



“You’re very brave,” she told me. I keep hearing that and at first didn’t think it was true as I find traveling fun and exhilarating, not scary. But the more people I meet around the world, the more I see how everyone has dreams, and most don’t follow them out of various fears.


I’m not sure doing this makes me brave, but I do feel fortunate, for my many misfortunes, like divorce, losing my job and my home, that led me to make this journey. To me, the brave ones are those who quit their good-paying jobs in order to follow their dreams.


Leaving Kilkenny, I made a brief stop at The Rock of Cashel, which local mythology says originated in a mountain called the Devil’s Bit, when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock landing here. I spent a couple of hours exploring the ruins of the cathedral, which was built between 1235 and 1270, and its graveyard with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.


It was especially nice when I bypassed a giant tour group that was listening outside to their guide while I got to slip into the tiny chapel, all dark and damp, completely alone. And also when I headed out, to the strains of Celtic music as three young guys played their hearts out.


Ireland is full of historic sites scattered throughout the country, so a road trip is an ideal way to see it, as you can stop at will wherever you fancy. I was about to spend the next two and a half weeks doing just that, much of it along the famous Wild Atlantic Way.



About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”


travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission

‘Dark Beer, Dark Side’ premieres at Grand Rapids Public Museum Nov. 25

darksideSpend an evening on the dark side at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM), 272 Pearl Street NW in Grand Rapids. GRPM, in partnership with Brewery Vivant, is hosting a new event, Dark Beer, Dark Side on Friday, Nov. 25, which coincidentally is this year’s Black Friday.


Beginning at 6:30 pm, Ryan Engemann, the Wandering Monk from Brewery Vivant, will wax eloquently on the differences between various dark beers including Brewery Vivant’s highly anticipated ‘Tart Side of the Moon’. Between 7:15 pm and 7:45 pm visitors have the chance to explore more of the Museum, have further Q&A with Engemann, and grab another beer to enter the Chaffee Planetarium for the Museum’s original production, Dark Side: The Light Show.


Dark Side: The Light Show is a one-of-a-kind light show featuring music from Pink Floyd’s album The Dark Side of the Moon. The show features stunning 4k visuals, brilliant LED sequences and incredibly clear 5.1 surround sound. Dark Side: The Light Show is the GRPM’s first original production since the planetarium underwent major renovations in 2013/2014.


Tickets include three beer samples, general admission to the Museum and admission to the evening’s planetarium show. Get tickets here.

‘Sip Local’ during Cocktail Week GR Nov. 9-20

cocktail_week_logo_This year’s Cocktail Week Grand Rapids runs from Nov. 9-20, when local bars, distilleries and restaurants showcase West Michigan’s craft beverage culture. For $25 or less, you can enjoy two craft cocktails and a shared plate at any participating restaurant or distillery. It’s the perfect time to grab a cocktail, take a tour, taste something new—and sip local.


Sponsored by Valentine Distilling Company, the event overlaps with Grand Rapid’s annual Wine, Beer and Food Festival, which runs from Nov. 17-19 and draws craft beverage enthusiasts from all over the country. This year they’re unveiling an expanded spirits area in honor of Cocktail Week GR. Tickets can be purchased for one night of the event or at a discounted rate if you plan to attend all weekend long (it may take that long to hit every booth).


Another event overlapping with Cocktail Week is the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s newest fashion exhibit, Fashionably Buzzed, which will be at the GRAM until January 15th. GRAM has invited 10 neighboring mixologists to design cocktails inspired by Iris van Herpen’s fashion collections, and museum-goers and members will receive a discount when they grab a drink after touring the exhibit.


Courtesy of Experience GR

If you want to enjoy cocktail week free of any distractions, head to the source of the spirits. Long Road Distillers on the west side of GR offers hospitable tours and a close look at what goes into crafting the main ingredient of cocktails — liquor. Gray Skies Distillery opened just over a year ago on Ottawa Ave. and offers a collection of spirits crafted in Grand Rapids. New Holland’s newest location, The Knickerbocker, is doing a lot more distilling, as well as Atwater Brewing Company’s new location (both on Bridge St.). Stop by to see their operations and appreciate some of the newest buildings in town.


No matter what sounds fun on a night out in Grand Rapids this fall, remember that Cocktail Week GR is happening Nov. 9-20. Keep an eye out for the menu releases from all participating restaurants and bars on November 2.


Call 616-459-8287 for more information and to get tickets.

The Midwest’s largest wine, beer & food festival is baaaaack

Now in its 9th year, the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival has established itself as Michigan’s premier tasting event, measured by 1,600 wines, beers, ciders and spirits. From the connoisseur who lives and breathes for the finer things in life to the novice looking for an introduction to the world of food and spirits, this Festival will deliver a grand experience that is sure to please every palette. This is the weekend you won’t want to miss.

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 17 (5-10pm) | Friday, Nov. 18 (4-10pm) | Saturday, Nov. 19 (Noon-10pm)

WHERE: DeVos Place, Downtown Grand Rapids — with over 100,000 square feet (nearly 3 acres).

COST: $15 – Thursday (and advanced ticket sales for Friday & Saturday); $20 – Friday & Saturday. 3-Day Pass – At $40, this option allows admission each day of the Festival and is intended for those who want to get the most out of their tasting experience. Online sales end Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5pm (Box Office sales for the pass end at 10pm on Thursday, Nov. 17).

Attendees must be 21 years of age and older. ID is required for admittance.

grw-3001On the menu


Blending together award-winning spirits and mixers into craft artisan cocktails, the region’s noted mixologist and distillers will serve up hands-on workshops guaranteed to educate and entertain. These complimentary 15-minute workshops will amp up your bartending skills, just in time for holiday entertaining with family and friends. Held in the new craft cocktail concourse along the river, each workshop limited to the  first 12 people who step up to the bar at the scheduled times.

Bartenders from six-one-six inside the JW Marriott are also planning an exciting “Chopped”-style competition during their Pairing (see below) aimed to perfectly match cocktails with prix fixe menu.

Held in the Secchia Lobby, running along the western edge of the Steelcase Ballroom, overlooking the Grand River.

Located in the center of the Vineyard, inside the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place, this special collection of wine has been selected by our consulting sommeliers and importing specialists as the “best of the best” top shelf vintages, chosen from among 1200 assorted wines. These high-end wines require a minimum 10-ticket ($5) tasting fee due to the cost of the product being served. Each of these wines have at least a 90-point value in a recognized wine rating system and are regarded as among the most elite wines of the festival according to industry experts. No need to invest hundreds of dollars in a full bottle—the Elite Wine Collection allows you the opportunity to sample these wines for a minimal cost.

The Festival’s popular beer area returns to the Exhibit Hall C on the Main Floor of DeVos Place off the Grand Gallery. Step into the world of creative craft beers, imported and domestic brews, hard ciders and foods that pair well with both. Meet the American craft brewer—the small, independent and traditional producers who display passion and excitement for their unique beverages. New products, as well as traditional favorites, will be offered for sampling.

Tap into the Cider Row at the Festival, featuring almost 20 cider producers from Michigan and nationally-known brands. Hard cider is among the fastest growing craft beverages, on a national scale. It is fermented to produce a range of flavors – from dry to sweet. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off of the Grand Gallery.

This sector of the beverage industry is taking off with hard iced tea; sodas—such as root beer, orange, cherry, lemon and other fruit flavors; seltzer waters and carbonated caffeinated products. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off the Grand Gallery.

Add a little extra class to your glass with an intimate tasting with Bradford Hammerschmidt from Imperial Beverage. These special flights offer champagnes you will not find anywhere else in the Festival. Each of the champagnes will be paired with specially selected cheese and crudités. Flights offered Saturday at 4pm and 7pm only. The cost is $40 per person. Reservations may be made online, or on site – space permitting.

Select restaurants partner with distinguished wineries and breweries for special Pairings – gourmet multi-course meals served on-site in a casual yet intimate “bar top” setting. Tickets are $45-$65 each and may be purchased in advance online or at the Festival on a first-come, first-served basis. This year’s restaurants include: Ganders, San Chez,, Reds at Thousand Oaks and Wolfgang Puck’s The Kitchen.

Additionally, chefs from about a dozen of the area’s top restaurants prepare and serve small plates of their culinary specialties.

The Coffee, Cordials and Dessert Café will be open in the Grand Gallery for the duration of the Festival. Start your Festival experience, or make it a nightcap, with unique pairings of coffee, lattes and cocktails crafted for your enjoyment with a variety of cordials, indulgent sweets and other treats.

Esteemed individuals from the culinary world host demonstrations on the Meijer Food Stage. Complimentary beverage seminars, held classroom-style in the rooms off the Grand Gallery, give attendees an in-depth look into the world of wine, beer and spirits. Cocktail workshops are also offered for a unique hands-on experience for those wishing to learn tricks of the trade from top leaders.

Students from Ferris State University, the Culinary Institute of Michigan at Baker College in Muskegon, the Secchia Institute of Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University work alongside industry leaders for a premier educational experience.

OFFICIAL PROGRAM: Download the official Festival program here.


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Places to stay on your West Michigan fall color tour

Photo by Kris Balasz


Just like clockwork, with Autumn comes the fall colors. When the leaves change, we’re gifted with some of the most beautiful sights in West Michigan. You’ll want to make time in your busy schedule to drive, bike or walk through some of these amazing works of nature.


We have a little extra time as the colors have been delayed due to the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had lately.


Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings has 661 diverse acres where you can see all of the fall colors. Go for a walk or a hike with the whole family and see animals, plants and more, in addition to the colorful leaves. Outdoors education is their passion, so if you have any questions, make sure you take the time to ask.


The crisp air and beautiful fall colors are just what you want while wine tasting, and the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail has you covered. Check out the beautiful colors that line the trail as you stop at one (or more) of the 20 wineries and nine tasting rooms. The wineries (and the colors) are close enough to visit for just a day, a short weekend or an extended visit.


Blueberries at DeGrandchamp Farms

12 Corners Vineyards in Benton Harbor has a beautiful tree line along their vineyard. It provides a look at some of the fall foliage of the area. Next time you’re at 12 Corners Vineyard for some wine, make sure that you explore the vineyard and the fall colors while they’re both looking wonderful.


DeGrandchamp Farms in South Haven is having their Cranberry Harvest Day on October 15th from 10am to 4pm. You and your family can go out on their tractor pulled cranberry bog wagons to see the harvest process. Keep an eye out for those fall colors! When you get back, have some cranberry treats and caramel apples at their market.


Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs is a great place to stop by on your fall color tour! Guests are welcome to adventure into the orchards and vineyard to pick apples and grapes or sip on some of their award-winning wine while enjoying the beautiful colors of fall. They will also be offering an opportunity for home winemakers to purchase juice and grapes from their harvest.


The Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance loves to see the fall colors explode through their town. Awarded Tree City USA since 1996, Marshall’s wide variety of trees will certainly get you in the fall mood. A walk through the historic town and the various nature areas will prove why they have been Tree City USA for 20 years.


The City of Hastings invites cyclists of all ages and skill levels to come out and enjoy the beautiful autumn colors in the countryside surrounding Hastings. Foodies, art enthusiasts and leaf-peepers alike will find plenty of opportunities to indulge at the Annual Arts & Eats Tour on October 15th and 16th. This includes a self-guided driving and bike tour of the scenic back roads and out-of-the-way places in Allegan and Barry counties.


The Southwest Michigan Tourist Council knows all about color tours in the area. They recommend that you check out the West Michigan Pike, which is the first continuous paved road in West Michigan from the Indiana state line to Mackinaw City. It’s a great way to combine fall colors with unforgettable beaches.


Country Dairy in New Era is in a great area for a color tour. Located right on the Hart Montague Bike Trail and the rolling hills of Oceana County, Country Dairy is the perfect place to stop by on your color tour for some food or take one of their own tours to see the sights.


Also in New Era, Rainbow Ranch has several hundred acres of wooded land for horseback riding. When the leaves are changing, the trails are absolutely gorgeous. What better way to see the fall colors than on horseback?


Double JJ Resort in Rothbury is hosting their Fall Color Weekend and Open House on October 15th and 16th. The event will feature the resort’s 1200 acres of forested property, comprising a wide assortment of maple, poplar and oak trees. The weekend promises a dramatic sight of autumn gold, scarlet and rust colored leaves.

At 12 Corners Vineyards


The Mecosta County Area has gone above and beyond the call of duty and put together a detailed color tour itinerary for you to enjoy. The thorough guide will take you all around the area to see the changing colors. They even have one designed to see the colors along the Muskegon River via canoe or kayak. They really have put together something wonderful, and you can view it here.


Gather your family and friends to experience the vibrant fall colors at the Depot-to-Depot Fall Color Tour from Muskegon to Whitehall! This self-guided tour happens on October 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th from 10am to 4pm. Pick up a map at either the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau or the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce to get started.



Jutting north between the azure arms of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay lies one of Northern Michigan favorite fall color tours. The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula stretches 19 miles and is home to nine distinct wineries. Along with wine tasting, enjoy the fall scenery, beautiful beaches, exquisite restaurants, and historic lighthouse. You can’t beat award-winning wines with an awe-inspiring view.


Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire has 4,500 acres of property that is the perfect base camp for a fall fun getaway. Set in the middle of all things Northern Michigan, they are centered around some of the best fall driving tours in the state. If you want to get even closer to the colors, try one of their color tour chairlift rides, which operate every Saturday during the fall color season. These chairlift rides will take you to the top of Schuss Mountain to see Mother Nature’s annual color show.


Heart Lake Cottages in Gaylord is perfectly nestled on the shoreline of Heart Lake. Each of their six cozy cottages are newly renovated and accommodate two, four or six people. Make this your headquarters as you travel through Northern Michigan, looking at the amazing changing colors throughout the area. And when you get back to the cottage, the quaint grounds and gardens are the perfect backdrop for your evening.


Art Gallery of Algoma is offering a Fall Color Painting Tour this fall. These tours include a guided tour of the gallery’s exhibitions and a mini-painting lesson inspired by the beautiful fall colors. The tour includes painting materials and is a unique way to get out and see how beautiful this season is. In the end, you’ll be able to take home your painting to display even when the colors aren’t orange, brown and gold.


Ride the boat over to Beaver Island to see the vibrant fall colors surrounding the island. The boat ride itself, run by the Beaver Island Boat Company out of Charlevoix, is a breathtaking trip as you dock in Paradise Bay in the welcoming autumn colors. Once you’ve arrived, stroll the streets with a cup of cider and learn why island life is so unique.


Draft horses at Black Star Farms

This October, Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay is hosting daily tours of their 160 acre estate. Visit the vineyard, inn, horses, orchard, and, of course, the forests with their fall colors. Afterwards, make your way to their tasting room and cafe for some wine and farmstead cuisine.


Hotel Walloon on Walloon Lake knows that now that summer is gone and fall is here, that means color tours begin. Their favorite color tours include M119’s Tunnel of Trees, fall chairlift rides, M-22’s Color Tour and more. They’re centrally located between all of these experiences and many more, making them the perfect home base for your Northern Michigan color tour experience.


Enjoy a panoramic view of three counties and all the fall colors at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville. As you ride the chairlift to the top of the mountain, you’ll be greeted to live music and the beauty of Northern Michigan’s fall color season. Stop by every Saturday in October from 11am to 1pm to take in the sights and sounds of the mountain.


Northern Michigan hotels want to ensure that your fall color trip is a huge success. To help with this, they have the Holiday Inn Express Mackinaw CityDays Inn Mackinaw CityHoliday Inn Express in Petoskey and the Apple Tree Inn Hotel, which are all conveniently located near many of the best places to see the fall colors. Travel down highway 131 and I-75 to see all of the changed leaves or visit nearby cities for fall themed events.


Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry on Mackinac Island has colorful fall savings for your next color tour. Enjoy discounts on round-trip fares through October 31st. Adults are $15, children 5 to 12 are $8 and bikes are $8. Children 4 and under ride free! The island is a great place to stay and see the fall colors. Ride the ferry over and bring your bike up for a long weekend with these fall discounts.


The Portage Point Inn in Onekama has a Fall Color discount to entice you to get out and see West Michigan. Now through November, receive 10% off published rates. Guests can stay on the picturesque Portage Lake before hopping onto M-22 to see one of the most beautiful routes in America.


On the Isle Royale Queen III

Traverse City offers some of the best places for fall colors. Visit the nearby dunes, bluffs and islands where autumn is in full swing. The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula stretch across 20 miles, surrounded by orchards, vineyards, forests and villages. This is the perfect morning or afternoon drive to see the fall colors and beautiful views of the bay.


Look no further than Charlevoix to experience Northern Michigan’s fall colors. During the month of October, fall colors are at their peak. The surrounding countryside is full of gently rolling hills and an abundance of foliage that is sure to satisfy that fall color trip you’ve been waiting for. After a day of exploring Northern Michigan, stop into downtown Charlevoix for dinner, a craft beer, or a tasty treat.


Downtown Market has classic comfort food classes to warm body and soul

Thanksgiving should be a time for fun family feasts, but even thinking about putting it all together can be enormously stressful.

Perhaps this is the first time you’re preparing the feast. Or maybe baking the perfect turkey has always eluded you. Whatever the stressor, Grand Rapids Downtown Market has cooking classes that will help you master the art of Thanksgiving meal making.


Here are just a few classes to help you out.


turkey-basicsTurkey Basics

Wednesday, November 2 from 6-8:30pm


In this class, you’ll learn some tricks to make the holiday a lot easier: how to properly brine, carve and roast a turkey; master gravy for those super creamy mashed potatoes; cook classic cranberry chutney; and prepare an easy stuffing that’s not soggy or boring.


Click here to learn more and to register.


autumn-nightsAutumn Nights East Coast vs. West Coast

Friday, November 4 from 6-8:30pm


There are not too many better rivalries than East Coast vs. West Coast. In this class, you’ll decide which coast you like the best by creating culinary classics that represent both sides. You’ll make classic chowders, roasted chicken with salsa verde or orange harvest topping, and see if Washington apple pie can win out over Boston cream pie.


Click here to learn more and to register.


beyond-the-pieThanksgiving Cocktails and Desserts: Beyond The Pie

Wednesday, November 16 from 6-8:30pm


Celebrate the indulgences of Thanksgiving with two favorite excesses: cocktails and desserts. In this class, you will make the best hot buttered rum batter this land has seen, shake an entire egg in a New York Flip cocktail (it tastes amazing), and learn how to make a cranberry walnut pear tart.


Click here to learn more and to register.


pie-crustPie Crust to be Thankful For

Monday, November 21 from 6-8:30pm


Learn how to master an easy-to-make pie crust! You’ll roll, mix and stretch for a beautiful custard pie, blue ribbon pecan pie and an award-winning apple pie. You will head home with three full pies to share with your loved ones.


Click here to learn more and to register.



Brewery Vivant is presenting sponsor for 6th Annual Fork Fest

defaultvivantBrewery Vivant will be the presenting sponsor at Grand Rapids Fork Fest this year and LocalFirst is excited for the brewery/restaurant to participate in this festival of local food and beverage entrepreneurs.


This year the popular event returns to Romence Gardens, 265 Lakeside Drive, NE. The event is set  for Oct. 20 from 5 – 9 p.m.


Brewery Vivant is a great advocate for this event because the owners truly embody what Fork Fest is all about. They believe a great business exists because of the support of its local community and, therefore, has the opportunity to be an active extension of that community.


Fork Fest is a great platform for Vivant to showcase its message: When food and beer are paired together, it can elevate both to a new level of enjoyment. For example, a great pairing at Brewery Vivant can be found in one of the pub’s staple brews, Farm Hand, a French-style farmhouse ale, with the kitchen’s divine duck nachos. The bright acidity of Farm Hand perfectly complements the richness of the duck.


defaultnachosOne beer Brewery Vivant owners are particularly excited to bring this year is Pumpkin Tart: a farmhouse pumpkin ale brewed with real pumpkin and spices. Its ability to pair with autumn desserts and entrees will astound Fork Fest attendees.


More than 40 West Michigan’s restaurants, farms, grocers, bakeries, breweries and more will be participating in the 6th Annual Folk Fest. New this year will be an on-site butchering demonstration by Louise Earl Butcher.


All samples are included in the ticket and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 the day of the event. For more information, visit the LocalFirst website.

‘Big Lebowski’ Beer Tour rolls back into Kalamazoo Oct. 1

timthumbIn honor of one of the finest and most oft­-quoted films of all time, West Michigan Beer Tours is proud to present the return of the Big Lebowski Beer Tour.


In collaboration with Greenbush Brewing Co., Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Airway Fun Center and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Big Lebowski Beer Tour is yours to enjoy on Saturday, October 1st.


The tour includes a trio of specialty beers that reference the film from Greenbush brewer Jake Demski — a unique, tie­-dye-­laden tour of Latitude 42 Brewing Co.; bowling at Airway Fun Center; and a quote­-along of the cult film starring Jeff Bridges. The tour will begin with registration at 3 pm at Central City Tap House and officially conclude with a movie party/screening of The Big Lebowski at 7:30pm at the Alamo Drafthouse.


Garb referencing the film is highly encouraged (and may be rewarded). Hotel discounts are also available on request. Greenbush Brewing Co. will provide these small ­batch beers as part of the event:

  • “Obviously You’re Not A Golfer” –­­ 5% ABV Arnold Palmer Ale (available at Central City Tap House; ale with lemonade and ice tea in secondary fermentation)
  • “The Brew Abides” ­­– 9% ABV White Russian Imperial Stout (available at the Airway Fun Center)
  • “Who’s Woo?” ­­– 7% ABV Rice IPA (available at Alamo Drafthouse)

Ticket prices are: “The Donny” ($55,­­ ride only, pay rest as you go); “The Walter” ($79, samples, tour and logo pint glass at Latitude 42; one game of bowling and movie ticket); “The Dude” ($99­­, samples, tour and logo pint glass at Latitude 42; unlimited bowling; West Michigan Beer Tours T­-shirt and movie ticket).


Origination: Central City Tap House, registration at 3 pm with 4 pm departure.


Stop 1: Latitude 42 Brewing Co., samples, tour, logo pint glass, 4:15- 5:15 pm.


Stop 2: Airway Fun Center, bowling, full pour, 5:30-6:45 pm.


Termination: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Kalamazoo, The Big Lebowski Quote­Along, 7 pm with 7:30 pm screening (Central City Tap House is about a block away from Alamo). For more information, go here.


For more details on upcoming tours, click on the “Tours” tab on their website, You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and TripAdvisor.




Local First: Taking a look at the new Knickerbocker Brewpub and Distillery

defaultlf_knickerbocker2It’s no secret that Grand Rapids is a hub for craft beer activity. “Beer City” has over a dozen breweries providing countless options of well-made ales, lagers, pilsners, and stouts. On top of the beer explosion, the rise of rustic-style restaurants and distilleries that pay homage to a cultural history has grown with the help of a community who is taking the time to consider what they’re eating and drinking.


This set of ideals fits in perfectly with the culture at New Holland Brewing Company. It’s one of the major reasons the Holland-based beer and spirits brand opened The Knickerbocker Brewpub and Distillery on the west side of Grand Rapids. Opening its doors last week with a seating capacity ore more than 400, The Knickerbocker will serve as a space to showcase what New Holland considers the craft lifestyle: sourcing local wherever possible and exploring new and reimagined recipes.


Located in an area steeped in Grand Rapids heritage, The Knickerbocker will highlight the cultures imbedded in the Westside. The menu includes known dishes such as Galumpkis and Smoked Kielbasa and Kraut alongside modern additions including a Black Bean Farro Burger and Smoked Tempe Burger. And while many people recognize New Holland as a big player in the Michigan craft beer scene, the new location will also highlight their growing spirits catalogue. New Holland’s award-winning whiskies, rums, and gins are featured in the upstairs lounge manned by well-educated bartenders. The lounge will feature a large library of specialty spirits designed to bring out the best in the base spirit to make room for even more creativity in their cocktails.


defaultknickerbocker_squareAt New Holland, craft is more than just a buzzword; it’s a choice that enables both the restaurant and its patrons to think about their meal. If it’s a beer, a cocktail, or a dish, The Knickerbocker makes it with purpose. So celebrate and raise a glass to a great addition to the Grand Rapids community!


The Knickerbocker is located at 417 Bridge St. NW. For more information, visit


This article is courtesy of Local First. WKTV Community Media is a member of Local First.

Brewery Vivant’s 6th Annual Wood-Aged Beer Festival celebrates art of craft brewing

brewery vivant
Photo courtesy of Brewery Vivant
Brewery Vivant presents its 6th annual Wood-Aged Beer Festival (WABF) on Saturday, September 17th, 2016. Showcasing over 20 wood and wild beers, Brewery Vivant will take over its parking lot once again with tents, taps and two sessions. Beers range from light to dark, sweet to sour, and rest in wood from bourbon barrels, wine barrels, scotch barrels, cognac foeders and more.

This year’s annual autumn event not only celebrates the art of wood-aging beer but also serves to celebrate this past summer’s launch of the brewery’s Plein de Vie series.
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“It’s been so exciting to bring some of these wood-aged beers out into the Michigan and Chicagoland markets,” said Kate Avery, Abbess of Beer and Director of Sales & Marketing. “This festival is like a capstone to our launch and also it serves as a testing ground for what is to come in the series. Get your first sips here. Maybe get your only sips here!”

Several Plein de Vie beers got their start at WABFs of yore: Angelina, Habanango and most recently, Paris.

Brewery Vivant’s farmhouse tradition lends itself to exploring the complexities wood-aging beer. Since its very first year of production, the brewery siphoned off a few gallons here and there from batches of beer to experiment with wood aging. As the brewery grew in volume, so did the barrel program. Now in its sixth year, three 40-barrel wooden foeders, 240+ barrels, and three stainless wild fermentation tanks, the creativity brewing for this festival is boundless.

“Thinking up flavor profiles and the guiding the recipe from beer to barrel is part of the fun,” says Master of Wood, Brian Kuszynski, “Of course, drinking these wood-aged beers is the other part of the fun.”

brewery vivant funOf all the beer festivals in Michigan, WABF resonates with taste trippers, explorers and fans of community building. Recently voted “3rd Best Beer Festival” in West Michigan in a reader’s choice poll, Wood-Aged Beer Festival not only offers the unique beer tasting experience but also festival foods from the acclaimed Brewery Vivant kitchen.

The brewery will offer two identical sessions: Afternoon 12pm-3pm and Evening 5pm-8pm. Tickets are $35 and include 10 tasting tokens (good for food as well) and a collector’s tasting glass. Space is limited due to physical parking lot size and small-batch, rareness of beer. Get tickets at or

Brewery Vivant is located in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, in a renovated funeral chapel built in the early 1900s. Its staff of around 60 employees specialize in Belgian/French-inspired beers and fare in a unique setting.

Husband and wife partners Jason and Kris Spaulding opened the doors for business in December of 2010. Vivant beers are distributed throughout Michigan and the greater Chicago area. It’s the first commercial brewery in the nation to receive Silver LEED Certification from the USGBC. Additionally they are 100% renewable powered, a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Business, and are a certified B Corporation.

Beer the Change®!