Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been called the “No. 1 U.S. Travel Destination” by Lonely Planet and one of “52 Places to Go” by The New York Times, but the main reason we love it is because of its other name: Beer City, USA. Grand Rapids won this award via an online poll in 2012, beating out Asheville, North Carolina. It’s also been called the “Best Beer Town” and the “Best Beer Scene” by USA Today, so it’s safe to assume that visiting Grand Rapids should be at the top of every beer lover’s list.
One of the main contributors to Grand Rapids earning this coveted name is Founders Brewing Company. This award-winning microbrewery has quickly become one of the highest rated breweries in the United States, and it is ranked in the top breweries in the world by ratebeer.com. Walk into any grocery or party store across the country and you’ll likely find beer from Founders Brewing Company inside [see below].
The taproom is a huge draw for beer lovers who travel to Grand Rapids. Beautifully crafted out of a former trucking depot, it’s modeled after German beer halls—complete with a beer garden and patio. Additionally, there are beers on tap that are still in the testing phase, and you’ll only find them at Founders Brewing Company.
Another favorite of ours is Brewery Vivant, which is housed in a refurbished historic funeral home. Some may find that creepy, but this brewery, fashioned after a Belgian monastery, is gorgeous. It specializes in rustic, farmhouse-inspired beers and European-inspired dishes. You can even join the Monk Club, where, for a small yearly fee, you receive discounts on beer as well as your own personalized chalice that is kept on display behind the bar.
Grand Rapids has further embraced its title by creating the Beer City Ale Trail. This map guides you to more than 80 breweries in Grand Rapids and the surrounding areas.
According to the Visit Grand Rapids travel association, the city boasts “more incredible craft beer per square mile than just about anywhere else on earth.”
Just download the Brewsader app or pick up a Beer City Passport at most breweries, and then visit eight of them to earn an exclusive Brewsader T-shirt. Every time you visit a brewery, you’ll earn points and perks—that means it’s OK to visit as many as you possibly can.
Have we convinced you to get your beer-loving ass to Grand Rapids yet? Sure, it’s cold for seven months out of the year, but that doesn’t matter when you can warm yourself up by guzzling down gallons of scrumptious brews.
Founders Brewing Company
235 Grandville Ave.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
925 Cherry St.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506
Review of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
We reviewed this rare and elusive stout. Here’s a snippet: “The thick and creamy mouthfeel was like chowing down on a full breakfast, but it was as if you shoved every bit of food, along with coffee, into your mouth at the same time … Can I describe a beer’s taste as beautiful? Yes. It’s beautiful.”
For more, check out where to smoke in Michigan.