I can’t believe 2020 is officially here. 2019 was full of so many fun things which mostly comprised of exploring Chicago’s beer scene, traveling, and taking advantage of the three months of summer we had. These are similar themes carrying in to the new year for me. Most importantly, I launched this website which was a very unexpected but fun twist!
To ring in the New Year, I took a trip up to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a roaring 20's themed wedding. This post should really be called 'A Traveler's Guide to 24 Hours in GD Rapids' because that's exactly what it was. The trip from Chicago to Grand Rapids is roughly three hours by car – and I swear almost every other exit sign had a brewery to stop at as an attraction. That’s on my bucket list for another day. I was able to squeeze in three breweries before the wedding- check out my recap below!
The first stop was Greyline Brewing off recommendation from Good Beer Hunting recently mentioning their “Almost Famous” brew. After looking them up, I also learned that the head brewer, Nate Walser, was formerly a brewer at Founders. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the tap list was stamped with a big red DENIED across that beer in particular. I opted for a flight over a round of chicken tacos from their little café. In hindsight, you should hands down definitely get the macaroni and cheese (ended up eating half of my friends’). My favorite pick was the 93 Days (Key Lime Ale); It had enough sour to make me think key lime pie but not over the edge to make me pucker –perfect balance. I also had Fade (Nitro Oat Stout) and Honey Buzzard (Honey Beer – which is growing on me a lot lately). We were happy to find good food and beer to kick off the 24 hour trip.
Next up was Harmony Hall . This is their second location that opened in 2015. It was originally an old sausage factory, but the walls are brick and give you major castle vibes as you walk up the stairs to their taproom. I went all over the place here from a Hefeweizen to IPA to Barleywine, but the winner was just the good old fashioned Fiddlestix IPA. Los Conejos is their take on a Mexican hot chocolate stout which sounded great on paper, but had a bit of a copper penny after taste unfortunately. The Barleywine was noted in the description to be hoppy, but it threw me for a loop while drinking it and wasn’t my jam. The last two in my flight were a Hefeweizen (Hefe D and the Boyz) and a Raspberry Ale (forgot to snag the name) which were good. Regrettably, I didn’t get the pizza but hear great things!
At this point, we lost two people but I had one partner in crime left to tackle on New Holland Brewing . Their space is incredible – huge ceilings with a modern wood décor and plenty of beer on tap for literally anyone. We went with Full Circle (Kolsch) , Gin Incorrigible (Gin Barrel Aged White Sour Ale – I’m a lover of all things gin), Find the Half Beat (Barleywine) , and the Dragon’s Milk Reserve Orange Chocolate (BA Stout). The Dragon’s Milk tasted exactly as expected – chocolate orange makes me think of those little chocolate bottles filled with Grand Marnier and that was this in a glass. The Gin Incorrigible was tart, crisp, and basically perfect. I ended up taking home a crowler of the Barleywine; it’s boozy and caramel comes through and is perfect as we head into the thick of winter!
Grand Rapids is a bit of a hike for a day trip – but it’s a perfect weekend getaway town even for just 24 hours. The downtown has a classic city feel and if you wander off the main strip, you end up in smaller neighborhoods with a bunch to offer too. There’s also no shortage of breweries. Shout out to Ferris Roasters also – they had some great coffee beans I brought home! Happy New Year to all of you and can’t wait to tackle 2020.