Last month my girlfriend and I decided a road trip was in order. Michigan seemed to fit, especially since neither of us had done any beer travel in Michigan other than visiting our friends at Greenbush. The abundance of West Coast beers in the beer closet needed some loving additions from the good old Midwest.
Being a fan of both Founders and Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids was the perfect first stop. After a little research on hotels (yes, I am what some would call a hotel snob), I found City Flats Hotel. A modern boutique, LEED-certified hotel right in the heart of town. After checking in, we wasted no time time and headed over to Founders. If you have never been there, just look for a few grain silos and construction. Lots of it. This place is growing by leaps and bounds and they should be; they make awesome beer.
The cab driver turned to us and said, “925 Cherry St SE right?”
I overheard one of the employees in the taproom saying how they had been working there for three years and he said, “It feels like we have been expanding since my first day here.” Their taproom has a beer hall in line with their immaculate brews. And their servers were on top of their game, knowing exactly when you had just finished your beer, and were ready to take your next order.
After contemplating getting food there or venturing on, we decided that Hopcat would be the next stop. And as it apparently is with every place in Grand Rapids, it was packed. We were lucky enough to get two seats at the bar ten minutes after we got there, but I don’t think that is all too common there.
The decor is awesome. It felt very Chicago to me, which I liked. After a Huma Lupa Licious, an Arcadia Hop Rocket, and a 1/2 lb of Fun Guy Mussels, it was time to move on to the last stop of the evening, Brewery Vivant.
“It feels like we have been expanding since my first day here.”
Around 7:30pm we hopped a cab from our hotel to head out to meet Rick Muschiana from Vivant. As we entered the cab, before even saying where we were going, the cab driver turned to us and said, “925 Cherry St SE right?” Clearly we were not going to be the only people there tonight. Upon arrival, we were amazed at the transformation that Vivant had done turning a funeral home and chapel in to a beer destination. Rick arrived, gave us a great tour of the brewery, and then joined us for a beer at the community tables while we attempted to order almost everything on the menu. Jason Spaulding then joined us for a bit as well to say hello and chat while we finished up our last beers for the evening.
Sunday morning snuck up on us quickly, but after a coffee, some fresh squeezed OJ, and a bacon egg panini we ventured out into the snow, yes the snow, to take the backroads to Dark Horse Brewing Co. After two hours, a 30 degree temperature change and one quick chat with Michigan’s finest, we arrived in Marshall. Dark Horse is different than your normal brewery/taproom. They have a skateboard/home brew/bottle shop in one building and a taproom in the other that looks like hasn’t been changed since the day they opened the doors, in a totally awesome way.
Their outdoor area is huge, and will for sure be seeing my mug again a few more times this summer. The beer is, well, fucking great. It was a mutual decision that a Double Crooked Tree for the driver (me) was not a very good idea so I went with a regular Crooked Tree and a Boffo Brown.
Overall, the trip was a total blast. We took in some good sights, shot fun pics, and met great people. I look forward to round two, three, and hopefully four this summer when the weather is hot and the sun is blazing.
From time to time the people of Solemn Oath Brewery take the time to chronicle their travels and experiences to share here with you. How can we make ourselves better if we never experience anything new?