Byron Center, about 20 minutes southwest of downtown Grand Rapids, joined the local craft beer scene when the city’s first and only brewery, Alebird Taphouse and Brewery, opened its doors in May 2019.

Amy Harris, co-owner alongside her business partner Marion, says the location chose them.

“When you look at the brewery map, there is a noticeable gap in Byron Center,” says Harris, who also serves as general manager. “There are so many great breweries in Grand Rapids and the surrounding towns, but we wanted Alebird to be the brewery for the local community. If they don’t want to travel, they can walk down the [Kent Trails] to their local brewery.”

Marion says what started as a dream while he and Harris were homebrewing years ago has blossomed into a passion project.

“We like to look at Alebird as a destination,” says Marion. “We strive to make our place warm and inviting to everyone in the community.”

Signature cocktail menu at Alebird Taphouse & Brewery.

Alebird pays homage to the chicken statue once attached to the building with its logo and name.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

“The Chicken”

Alebird is now the sole resident of a historic building in Byron Center that once existed as a hotel to support the local railway station. 

Over the years, many restaurants and businesses have called the building a home, but what made its reputation infamous among locals was a certain statue: a giant chicken attached - for decades - to the exterior of a former restaurant that was famous for chicken dinners. 

While the local celebrity is no longer watching over this building, Alebird pays homage to it in many ways, including in the design of the brewery’s logo.

“When we were purchasing the building, the plan was that it would remain here, so when we were coming up with the name and logo, the chicken statue was a big part of that,” says Harris. “Unfortunately, the chicken was sold prior to us taking ownership, but as the building was often referred to as ‘The Chicken,’ we wanted to honor the history while at the same time being new and different.”

A glass of beer next to a growler container with the Alebird logo on it.

Alebird has 24 beers on top, including its flagship Railbird Pale Ale.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

24 Beers on Tap

At Alebird, creating a community around craft beer isn’t just about creating its own brews. It’s also about supporting the greater craft beer community.

That’s why Alebird always has 24 beers on tap — a combination of the taphouse’s homebrews and rotating “guest beers” crafted by other breweries. 

“Deciding to be a taphouse meant we couldn’t distribute our own beer, but for us, it felt worth it,” says Harris. “We love supporting other breweries by having their beer on tap and sending people to them.” While you can't find Alebird's beer anywhere else, they still serve their own brews on site every day. 

Alebird’s head brewer, Tshecomah Fisher, says he approaches brewing with the goal of creating great mainstay styles with a “good old fashioned twist.”

“I like to think way outside the box to try things that, hopefully, haven’t been tried before,” says Fisher. “There really is no limit to how creative you can be. We try to have at least two unique beers on tap at all times.”

Alebird’s flagship beer is the Railbird Pale Ale, an American Pale Ale with a malt flavor that finishes with a light citrus fruitiness. 

Fisher rotates in seasonal beers and creations for even more variety. Sorry I’m Bad At Pick Up Limes Keylime Milkshake IPA is a mainstay of the summer menu, and other limited-time selections have included Crazy Paddy’s Red Ale (St. Patrick’s Day) Cranberry Relish IPA (Thanksgiving) and Birds Aren’t Real Lager (winter).

If you prefer something other than beer, Alebird offers a variety of specialty cocktails, wines, ciders, seltzers and even cold brew concoctions made with coffee from Byron Center’s Full Circle Coffee.

Food at Alebird
Bar and table seating inside Alebird.

Fresh, seasonal, and ever-changing are the concepts behind Alebird's food menu.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Live to Eat

Thanks to nearby farms and small producers, Alebird’s food menu focuses on fresh and ever-changing fare.

Selections change seasonally but you can always count on a choice of burgers, sandwiches, salads, hearty entrées and sharable starters as well as weekly specials. 

A new “burger of the week” is introduced every Tuesday and is offered at a discount price that day. The burger is available at the regular price the rest of the week (or while supplies last).

Alebird is also joining the many other local eateries striving to offer delicious meals for all dietary restrictions and preferences. The menu notes items that are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, and which dishes can be made gluten-free on request.

A Community Gathering Space

A Summer Saturday Yoga Series offers you the chance to get your flow on while enjoying craft beer on Alebird’s outdoor patio. For $15, you get to join an hour-long yoga session paired with a refreshing pint of your choice.

Alebird is a holiday gift drop-off site for Byron Center’s Buist Community Assistance and it’s hosted a variety of community events since its opening – from painting, cake pop decorating and wreath making classes to trivia nights to pictures and s’mores with Santa. 

Brewsader Check-in

Alebird is a participating brewery in the Beer City Brewsader® app. Use the app to check in to 8 local breweries to earn a collectible T-shirt and 40+ breweries to enjoy the perks of an Ultimate Brewsader.

A new Brewsader app became available in 2024 – it’s easier to use and includes more challenges and badges to earn. Download it to replace your existing version of the app (if you have it installed). All your check-ins will be transferred to the new version.