Beer City USA: A Guide to the Grand Rapids Craft Beer Scene

The craft beer industry in Grand Rapids has been growing leaps and bounds, and locals are proud of the great beer, festicals, and homebrewing resources this city has to offer. Why is Grand Rapids Beer City USA? Read on.

Raise your glass, and propose a toast to the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan — a.k.a. Beer City USA. If you’re not from Grand Rapids, you might ask: Is this a legit title, and if so, how does a city receive such an honor? It all began in 2009, when Charlie Papazian (a nuclear engineer who founded the Association of Brewers) started the Beer City USA poll. Papazian found that, out of all the statistical data swirling around beer production, that the one thing missing was a way to measure community support surrounding the craft beer industry.

Now those of us living in the wonderful city of Grand Rapids can attest to the appreciation we have for our local brews. So much so, that in 2012 we shared the title of Beer City with yet another great beer city: Asheville, North Carolina. The following year brought us nationwide domination, gaining over half the votes for this tasty title.

The craft beer industry here in Grand Rapids has been growing leaps and bounds. Those of us who enjoy it are proud of what Grand Rapids has to offer in the way of great beer. To back that up, I will mention a few heady statistics.

Grand Rapids is currently home to 17 operating breweries.

There are several breweries worth mentioning, but by far the largest is Founders Brewing Company. Founders not only is popular here in Grand Rapids, but also has been ranked among the top breweries in the world by for the last five years. They produce such dynamic, bold craft beer that when they release their KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) each year in the spring, they sell tickets to those that can’t wait to get their hands on this bourbon-barrel-aged wonder.

The Grand Rapids beer scene boasts global superiority.

HopCat brewpub in downtown GR was awarded the title of #3 on BeerAdvocate’s list of “Best Places on Earth to Have a Pint.” If you’re in the mood to grab a bite and sample some beer, they have approximately 50 brews on tap and around 150 bottles on their menu to choose from. With that kind of selection, your bound to find something you like.

In 2015, Grand Rapids’s largest beer fest turns 10.

What do freezing cold temps, live music, turkey legs, and craft beer have in common? The Grand Rapids Winter Beer Festival, of course! February 2015 will bring the 10th annual event back to Fifth Third Ball Park here in Grand Rapids. Every year the event sells out quicker than the year before. This past winter brought in 88 Michigan breweries with about 800 different craft beers to sample.

With all this talk about beer, perhaps you are ready to start brewing some on your own? If you are, then Siciliano’s Market here in Grand Rapids can definitely help you out. This beer store/brewing supplier was given the title of 2013’s Top Beer Grocery Retailer in the US. Their friendly, knowledgeable staff can direct you to what supplies you will need in order to get started brewing from home. For around $100 in equipment, and anywhere from $30-$60 in ingredients, you could be making beer for all your new neighbors here in Beer City USA. Cheers!

Image Source: Flickr/K.L. Macke


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