Grand Rapids Brewing Company Opening Downtown
December 3, 2012:
May 21, 2012:
Grand Rapids Brewing Co. (GRBC) today announced plans to become Michigan's only all-organic brewery. All of GRBC's beers will be made using only organic grains and other organic ingredients. The announcement comes on the heels of the city of Grand Rapids being named Beer City USA 2012 by the National Beer Examiner.
The brewpub, to be located at 1 Ionia Ave. SW in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids' entertainment district, is being designed to provide casual beer drinkers, craft beer connoisseurs and people interested in natural, organic ingredients with another compelling reason to visit downtown's entertainment district.
Mark Sellers, co-owner of BarFly Ventures and GRBC, said the decision to go "all organic" was neither simple nor without risk.
"Sourcing organic hops, malt, and grain is very challenging. There aren't many to go around, and we had to do a lot of legwork to line up suppliers and farms who could sell us organic ingredients in the quantities we require," Sellers said. "We're taking the obligation that comes with calling GRBC an organic brewery very seriously."
GRBC's veteran brewmasters, Stu Crittenden and Jake Brenner, have spent months researching other organic beers and breweries to understand the challenges and promise of using products grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
Brenner, who grew up in Traverse City and graduated from Grand Valley State University, has been brewing for seven years, including two years at nearby HopCat, 25 Ionia Ave. SW.
Crittenden, an East Lansing native, has six years of brewing experience under his belt, including stints at Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville and the former GRBC on 28th Street SE, which closed last year before being acquired by Sellers.
In some ways going all organic takes GRBC back to its historic roots. The original GRBC was founded in 1893, an era predating widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
While some breweries in the region have produced individual organic brews, when GRBC opens in late August, it will be the first and only brewery in Michigan making a commitment to creating only organic beer.
"Our mission is to create beers that people will enjoy drinking using products that are natural, sustainable and, whenever possible, locally grown," Crittenden said.
The same philosophy will carry over to the unique variety of foods that will be offered using as many all-natural, organic and locally-sourced ingredients as possible.
The brewery expects to be certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture before or shortly after opening.
Like the other BarFly establishments downtown, GRBC will implement an extensive sustainability program that will result in the vast majority of its waste being recycled and/or composted.
"Grand Rapids has so many amazing options for dining and exploring new craft beers," Sellers said. "We believe GRBC will provide yet another compelling reason for people to come to downtown Grand Rapids."
A storied name in the city's brewing history will return to downtown by late summer when Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC) opens next door to the Van Andel Arena.
BarFly Ventures, owned by Mark and Michele Sellers, today announced the brewpub will be the ground floor anchor tenant inside the historic Hawkins and Gunn Company buildings, 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW.
BarFly owns some of downtown's best-known bars, including HopCat, Stella's Lounge, The Viceroy and McFadden's.
"Grand Rapids Brewing Co. will be a casual, family gathering place creating approximately 60 new jobs in the heart of our city," Mark Sellers said. "This will be a great spot to grab dinner and some homemade beer before and after events at the arena. We envision it becoming a popular spot for watching a game with friends and family members."
The brewpub will be open seven days for lunch and dinner, employing 60 people in a variety of jobs ranging from managers and brewmasters to servers and bartenders.
The new GRBC will offer a unique food menu, 8-10 of its own house-made beers, and soft drinks. A selection of liquor, wine, and hard cider will also be available.
The original GRBC, once located at the corner of Michigan Street and Ottawa Avenue, closed on April 26, 1918 due to the Prohibition Act. It was once a dominant player in the regional beer market thanks to the popularity of its famous Silver Foam beer. BarFly plans to pay homage to the original Grand Rapids Brewing Co. with a new formulation of Silver Foam.
BarFly purchased the assets of a second incarnation of GRBC after it closed last year on 28th Street. Much of the new GRBC's brewing equipment will come from that location. Members of the 28th Street GRBC Mug Club at the time it closed also will be given a free year's membership in the new GRBC Mug Club.
BarFly plans to invest more than $1.5 million to renovate and combine what are currently separate store fronts in the Hawkins and Gunn buildings into a 10,000-square-foot space capable of seating up to 450 customers. An event space in the lower level will be able to accommodate parties of up to 100 people.
The western side of the building facing Van Andel Arena and a historic brick-paved alley will bring excitement and visual appeal by opening up what had been loading dock doors. BarFly plans to install a deck for open-air seating and, during summer months, will open the three large garage doors facing VanAndel Arena.
"This location is the corner of 'Main and Main' of the city's entertainment district, and I couldn't be more excited about locating GRBC here" Mark Sellers said. "We are excited to create another unique, locally owned anchor to what we think is becoming one of the most interesting entertainment districts in the Midwest."
GRBC will occupy most of the ground floors of both buildings. It will be an integral part of the $7.5 million 616 Lofts on Ionia mixed-use project announced last week. That project will put 26 market-rate apartments on the upper three floors of the buildings and offices on the second floor.