By Victoria Mullen
Hmmm. Sense that? There’s something in the air.
No, not a smell, specifically. And it isn’t something you can readily see. It’s more like a growing vibe. Or anticipation. Or something.
Ah, yes. There is something brewing in Grand Rapids, and it’s the 4th Annual Beer Week GR, February 17-28. Founded in 2012, the event celebrates and promotes the craft beer culture in the greater Grand Rapids area through a series of unique beer events.
“Beer Week GR has grown into a 12-day event that is not only a celebration for beer lovers, but also the local economy,” said Doug Small, President and CEO of Experience Grand Rapids. “The Grand Rapids area beer scene continues to be recognized on a national level. Paired with our ever-popular Cool Brews. Hot Eats. collaboration with more than 50 local restaurants, as well as the popular Winter Beer Festival, Beer Week GR offers beer and culinary fans a unique experience during a period of the year not known to draw as many leisure visitors to the area.”
Ohhhh, yeah. You’ll need your strength–you know, something to soak up that delicious craft beer–and Cool Brews. Hot Eats. is just the ticket. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone (so to speak): Fill the belly and celebrate perfect pairings (food and beer, of course) as local chefs and brew masters offer beer-infused dishes and meals with complementary beer pairings. We’ve listed just a sampling of participating eateries at the end.
But that’s not all, folks.
The 2016 Winter Beer Festival (the 11th annual) will feature more than 100 Michigan breweries and approximately 1,000 different craft beers. Guests will enjoy fine music from local bands and other fun entertainment, and a selection of tasty food will be available for purchase. Takes place at Fifth Third Ball Park, 4500 West River Dr. NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321. $45 in advance, $50 at the gate, (if still available—tickets sell out fast). ‘Enthusiast Members’ with a valid membership ID card are invited to enter an hour early (at 2 pm on Friday / noon on Saturday) to enjoy VIP entry prior to General Admission.
So, devoting 12 days to celebrating beer sounds logical, right? Well, we have inquiring minds over here. What’s the real reason behind this big brew-ha-ha? Why did it start in the first place? Instead of going straight to the sources and asking the founders and powers that be–because, let’s face it, that would be too damn easy–we thought it would be fun to hazard a guess or two.
Maybe we hit the nail on the head. Maybe not. But here’s what we came up with:
- “They” started this whole thing to prevent people from going off the deep end in mid-winter. Gets mighty gray around these parts.
- They wanted to carve out a niche for Grand Rapids because there will never be enough lists for us to conquer.
- They just wanted an excuse to drink beer.
The last, seemingly simplest reason makes the most sense, so we’re going with that, but hell, any way you look at it, it’s win-win-win for craft beer aficionados because the brews will be a-flowing February 17-28.
Yes, the last week of February definitely will be beer-centric and if you’re feeling left out, maybe it’s time to join in the fun. Sure, you could stay inside and cuddle up to a fire with a good book. But where’s the fun in that? No, the answer to braving the elements is beer. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the ‘Best Beer Town.’
For a schedule of all the special events surrounding Beer Week GR, go here.
Cool Brews. Hot Eats. participating eateries:
Bagger Dave’s- Fulton
Black Heron Kitchen & Bar
Blue Water Grill
Bobarino’s at the B.O.B.
Bostwick Lake Inn
Brann’s – Leonard
CitySen Lounge at CityFlats Hotel
Cork Wine & Grille
The Cottage Bar
El Barrio Mexican Grill
Flat River Grill
Founders Brewing Co.
Gilly’s at the B.O.B.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company
Gravity Taphouse Grille
The Green Well
Harmony Brewing Company
The Heritage Restaurant (at GRCC)
Judson’s at the B.O.B.
Kitchen 67, A Michigan Bistro
Luna Grand Rapids
One Trick Pony
Pearl Street Grill
Reds on the River
Rockford Brewing Company
Rose’s on Reeds Lake
Rush Creek Bistro
Tom + Chee
Check back often, more locations are being added daily. Menus for participating locations will be announced on February 1, 2016.
Interested in participating? Contact Kate Herron – KHerron@ExperienceGR.com.
Area hotels are offering complementary shuttle service to and from the festival to get you there safely. More information here. It’s the responsible thing to do.