Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekend/day Beer Adventures: Grand Rapids, MI

The Mural outside Pyramid Scheme
This past weekend, as some may know, I biked to Grand Rapids. Since moving to Holland, I have already made the trips to Grand Haven (22) Saugatuck (17) and Hudsonville (14) but had yet to really experience the night life in GR. Jen and I had made a quick trip out there to check out some of the brewing scene, but I wanted something more thorough. Eamon had offered to show me around and provide some housing during the trip, which would work out perfectly. So, following work on Friday (6/22/12), I dropped my pay case of at home and rounded up some stuff (i.e. running shoes, shirt, wallet, camera and hammock - just incase) and headed out. It was pretty hot out and I didn't bring any water. Therefore, I hit up the halfway mark at White Flame in Hudsonville for a quick pint. I had heard they had recently tapped a new hopped wheat, and for every pint a dollar went to breast cancer research fund. It was worth it. Drinking for a good cause, what's better? While there, several publicans heard I was making the trip and they started telling me of all these different routes I could take - only to confuse me more. I will one day, but the objective here was at least to GET to Grand Rapids. I settled up and hit the road.

Friday (6/22/12):
Grandville was a bit dodgy, but to my surprise, after speeding down a hill on Grandville Ave, I found myself in front of Founder's Brewing Co! I gave Eamon a call and we figured we could meet at Harmony Brewing Company as I had been there before and I relatively knew the general direction from where I was. I arrived an ordered a pint of the Cranberry Wheat (See the rest of my visit at Harmony).
BOB Spotting
Following Harmony, the decision was made to check out the Pyramid Scheme, of which was one of Eamons favorite wattering holes in the GR area. He had told me that they had a special connection with Short's Brewing Company and therefore was fruitful with their taps. Traveling by bike, we hit the down hill and made it there in a matter of minutes. The atmosphere of PS reminded me a bit like Three Floyds, but with a theme of Dynosaurs and Pyramids. Very colorful, but dimly lit. They had an arcade room and an open front that reminded me a lot of bars in Australia. We sat at a high table and ordered some beer. The taps certainly were over run with Short's. We split a pint of the Mustard Seed Pilsner - which carried the must common to the ground seed, but with a pleasant sweetness and the common bite in the finish from noble hops. And a basic session ale (the drink of the night predominantly revolved around session ales, as we were hitting quite a few bars). We had been in contact with Jack (the newest member at New Holland before me), so he arrived and we drank one more while contemplating our next stop. Decision landed on the B.O.B. as long as they didn't have cover, which they did. We finally decided on checking out Brewery Vivant, where we would meet up with Jack's Wife. With crumby bikes, we staggered back up the hill towards Eastown. Arriving we found a table right on the patio and ordered drinks. I got the Hefe, and I'm unsure what everyone else got, by then I was beginning to feel the taxation of the biking and beer. We stayed at Vivant for quite some time. When we were nearly finished with our drinks we were welcomed to get a brief tour of the facility. It was pretty cool, especially with the familiar C.A.S.K canning system. (Brewery Review coming soon). We settled up (Thanks Vivant for the discount!). By now, I was pretty buzzed and exhausted, but Eamon demanded we go to the Green Well, across the street. We ordered a sampler (which I don't remember of what) and closed the place out, By then it was around 12:00pm and we biked back to his house.
Saturday (6/23/12):
Today was Founder's fest. We figured most beer lovers would be there and the other local breweries would be empty. Right we were. I woke up around 7:30 and downed some tea. Since I brought my running shoes, I wanted to hit some roads for a quick run. We mapped out a 5 mile loop. Eamon runs a lot (70+ mpw), and he's in good shape, except he runs at 8-9 min/mile. Even for not running in a while (foot injury) I don't think I could do that. So we planned on clicking off some 7's, which, while still taxing, were manageable. Did that 5 in 34 minutes, nothing special, but Eamon said that was a pr. Haha. Following the run we ate some beans and headed out to check out Schmohz (See the rest of my visit to Schmohz).
We left and stopped to recover a bit at Eamons house. The next stop was the Hideout Brewery, which we planned on biking to because it was a bit more bike friendly to get there than Schmohz. Nevertheless to my surprise, the hills were a bitch! but the reward was worth it. (see the rest of my visit to the Hideout)
After leaving the Hideout, we headed a different route back, intended to be along the river. Prior to that however, we stopped at a small grocery store that boasted a very large beer selection. I found a bottle of Bear Republic's (my favorite brewery) 27th Anniversary Ale. I also bought some organic spinach and basil seeds and a bag of local tortilla chips to curb the plummeting blood sugar hunger from all the beer.
We headed a bit further down the road and stopped at Graden's Crossing, another beer bar that has an enormous selection (including Hatter on Cask) and locally sourced food. We split a 12 Oz tall can of Resin by Blue Point Brewing Company in New York.
Following that stop we biked all the way back to the B.O.B and Pyramid Scheme to check for Eamon's keys (he had lost them the night before, only to realize they were gone this morning), so back tracking commenced. No luck there. We then made a quick stop at Meanwhile, where Eamon said a couple friends were them. I wanted to check out the Eastown street fest so we split ways an I headed back to Harmony. To my dismay, the street fest was over, but it gave me an opportunity to try Harmony's pizza, which looked exquisite. Minutes later Eamon, Matt and Dave arrived and we sat at a booth for some pints. Eamon's dad arrived and told us to head down to a sports bar down the street where all the older folk were drinking. We did, and stayed there for a couple hours. I thought it was in my best interest to drink water after the long day, and it definitely payed off in the morning. After that, we headed back to Eamon's house and I was passed out by 10pm.
The next morning was chill. Woke up. Downed some tea. watched Dogs 101 and was on the road by 11:45.
The ride home was arduous and long, but I made it back an hour and 45 minutes later (took me 80 minutes to get to GR from Holland).
Well, that was my weekend in Grand Rapids. Thanks to Eamon and his parents for housing me and to all the breweries that made the experience worth our while. Stay tuned for next weekend.

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