Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grand Rapids - Beer City USA

This past weekend, John and I drove up to Grand Rapids to celebrate Memorial Day. And by "celebrate Memorial Day" I mean, try as many beers as possible and fall more in love with the city.

We actually only went for one night.  So we had to get as much city loving in as possible in about 24 hours.  So, we left Chicago at like 7:30am (which is insane for me since I like to sleep in) just to make it to Grand Rapids for breakfast at our favorite local spot, The Brandywine.  I think people tend to overlook Brandywine in favor of Wolfgang's down the street and I'm here to tell you that it's a mistake.  Brandywine is cozier.  And less busy.  And they have junior size portions which is great if you're like me and want to save room for sandwiches later.

After breakfast, we headed to our first new brewery of the day, Harmony Brewing Company.  I swear to god, Grand Rapids has EXPLODED with beer since I moved away 3 years ago.  And I conveniently love beer now so it's great to visit.  

And Harmony is awesome.  I really loved their Cream Ale and John had a flight of 5 beers but fell completely in love with their grapefruit shandy.  Plus, they had really good looking pizza and a fun mug club.  I love clubs of all sorts so I was sold.

Once we were finished soaking in the local flavor at Harmony, we headed over to Brewery Vivant (my 2nd new to me brewery o the trip).  They converted an old chapel into a brew pub and I loved it.  But even more than the interior, I loved their giant outdoor space with communal tables.  It was so beautiful.  We actually ended up at a table with some fellow Chicagoans which was pretty cool.

John had 4 more samplers here (he's at 9 beers if you're keeping track) and I had a Farmhouse Ale.  AND THE MOST AMAZING PRETZELS EVER.  They had these giant soft pretzel rods.  It was like a pretzel breadstick.  OMG.  I want them so bad now.  So, go here.  Drink beer. And absolutely order the pretzels.

Then I was tired.  And we needed to check into the hotel anyway, so we headed over there and I took a nap to restore my energy.  Success!  I woke up ready for beers.  And a burger.  So we headed over to Grand Rapids Brewing Company (3rd new brewery to me) and John got another flight (that's 15 new samples for the day).  As luck would have it, I ordered the best beer there (Rosalynn Bliss Blond. It was mango-y) without having to sample them so suck on that flight buyer!

Unfortunately, it was Sunday so they only had a brunch menu and I was starving so we headed to the crowd favorite, Hopcat, to split a burger and have some brews we knew we'd love.  It was great to be back in a bar that we were so familiar with and experience a wait staff that was the best ever.  Seriously, so knowledgeable.  So nice.  So friendly.  Loved it.

But nooo, our night didn't end there.  We headed over to Pyramid Scheme, aka my new favorite bar ever.  It was small.  And had tons of pinball games.  And a T REX SKULL.  c'mon!  I can't handle it.  So we drank some beers and played some games and had the best time ever.  Enough that I bought 2 t shirts.

Of course, we had to go the gaming bar counterpart of Pyramid Scheme and headed to Stella's.  Another favorite of ours.  We sipped on cheap beers.  Watched weird shows on the tvs and had amazing buffalo potato wedges.  It was just great.

I'm embarassed to say that we were pretty tired pretty early in the night after so many beers and foods and walks.  But, not to be defeated, we headed to Rosa Parks circle for some frozen yogurt (or frogurt.  I'm not sure why people won't call it that with me.  screw froyo.) and to take some photos of the city in the almost twilight.

We turned in early and started the day anew by making a trip to Meijer (the best) and Schuler's Bookstore before meeting up with our friend, Lindsay for a great farewell lunch at Founders.  The drive home to Chicago seemed to take forever.  Maybe it was the traffic or maybe it was that we were leaving our one true city love.  But I know it was the most amazing trip I've ever had in a 24 hour period.

I miss you already, Grand Rapids!  You totally deserve the title Beer City USA.


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