22 October 2012

Michigan trip continued

In continuation of my first post about my Michigan beer trip, we continued our journey to a place that I've been wanting to hit since I heard about their opening in 2010:  Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids. Brewery Vivant is located in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids, which I found to be a very walkable and vibrant business area. The pub is located in part of a renovated (and LEED certified) building that was once a funeral home that contained a large chapel in it.  Brewery Vivant focuses on a Belgian and French theme throughout the entire building, menu, and beer list.  This is another brewery that caught me by surprise.  I've heard nothing but good things about them, but actually getting to walk into the pub was the first delight to my senses.  The pub was built in the old chapel.  The room has buttresses, stained glass, wooden tables, and a certain ambiance that made me feel I was somewhere else.  Vivant was just my kind of place.  The food, the beer, and the atmosphere were all impeccable.  I'm a huge fan of Belgian style beers, and I'm very happy to see their continued rise in production by breweries in the US. I love the saison style and a personal favorite was Vivant's French Hand Farmhouse Ale.  It was lighter in ABV, but had a great flavor and paired very well with my meal.  I am also a huge fan of smoke beers and they had a smoke beer on hand that reminded me of a beer from Schlenkerla.  It was fantastically smokey and overpowering with smoke flavor.  I really had a great experience from Vivant, and they are another place I'm already looking forward to trying again in the future.

Outside of Brewery Vivant

Another shot. The front entrance is through the Chapel doors at the bottom of the picture.

Looking at the top of the bar showing the wood and stone work

Interior shot of the bar and old Chapel.  Here is the original look. 

Tap handle shot

Beer flight
Tap list
A bowl of mussels 

Interior shot of the stained glass window above the entrance door
The next morning we needed to have a solid base for another day of all things beer.  Normally I would never post pictures of breakfast food on a beer blog, but Marie Catrib's, not far from Brewery Vivant, was the real deal for breakfast food. I would recommend this to anyone.

Rock the Hash-bah with spicy chorizo made with pork and mixed with diced potatoes, corn, onions, cayenne, cumin, peppers
Eggs, bacon, in-house made sausage, mushrooms, onions, cheese and potatoes.  Homemade Rye bread with honey butter and mixed berry compote. 
When in Grand Rapids, you must make the pilgrimage over to Founders.  We didn't realize we chose the weekend of the Harvest Ale release party, but we hoped some special gems would be on tap that day.  We got there when they opened up and were about 20 people or so deep in a line that had already formed.  It was $10 bucks to get in that day, but for that $10 you got a pint glass and a glass of Harvest Ale.  If you stuck around long enough it also covered the cost for live music later that evening. Founders has a pretty large space and I was surprised it was nearly at capacity by noon.  Mostly it was the mug club members I saw pounding beers.  I saw more of those than anything else.

Outside of Founders
Stained glass behind the bar
Beers for the day
Nitro oatmeal stout.  4.5% with plenty of flavor.  It was one of my favorites at Founders. 
Pint of Harvest Ale
I had to have a breakfast stout at the source. 
The last stop on the beer adventure was just a short walk away to The Hopcat. They are continually ranked as one of the best beers bars in the world by beer geeks. The Hopcat has been well written about, but this place is a wonderful beer bar that has 48 taps and a large bottle list. 48 taps is too much for most places, but The Hopcat really turns their beer.  This is another one of my favorite stops when in Grand Rapids.

Shot from the end of the bar
Tap towers
One of the best beers I had all weekend.  Biere de Mars from Jolly Pumpkin. 
Pint of something

It was another successful beer trip to SE Michigan.  Breweries and bars keep multiplying like crazy up there, and we only really hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to beer establishments.  Many breweries we wanted to hit, but simply couldn't because we just didn't have enough time or enough cab money.  I'm looking forward to my next trip that hopefully happens sooner than later.


  1. Darkhorse Brewery (Marshall, MI) is a MUST on your next Michigan brewery tour. Their Crooked Tree IPA and darker beers are amazing.

  2. Darkhorse is a great stop. It just didn't work out on this trip. I am also a big fan of their dark beers.