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 beer 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 also plans to add seasonal beers and creations to the rotation. During Alebird’s first summer after opening, Fisher concocted the popular Sorry I’m Bad At Pick Up Limes Keylime Milkshake IPA, which will always return in the warm season.

If you don’t prefer beer, Alebird has a variety of options for spirits, wine, and even cold brew from local Byron Center coffee shop, 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 the nearby farms and small producers, Alebird's food menu focuses on fresh, seasonal and ever-changing fare.

Crowd-favorites are the Wisconsin Cheese Curds and Fire Bird sandwich, as well as sides, and burgers like the MI Craft Beef Burger.

Alebird is also joining the many other local eateries striving to offer delicious meals for all dietary restrictions and preferences. The menu features comfort food items and includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

Other house specialty menu items worth trying are the Wine 'n' Swine (pork ribeye with house red wine sauce) and Gnocchi Florentine (asiago stuffed gnocchi in lemon pesto sauce). 

Poses & Pints

During the summer months, Poses & Pints offers you the chance to get your flow on while enjoying craft beer on Alebird’s outdoor patio. For $10, you get to join an hour-long yoga session paired with a refreshing pint of your choice.

Alebird offers Sunday stein nights and hosts other rotating events including canvas painting, cake pop decorating, trivia, and macrame wreath making classes. Be sure to follow Alebird on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates.

Brewsader Check-in

Alebird is a participating brewery in the Beer City Brewsader® app. Check in on your way to becoming a Brewsader, or further your quest to becoming an Ultimate Brewsader.

You only have to check in to eight breweries enrolled in the Brewsader program to earn a collectible t-shirt, and visiting 40 or more breweries will earn you the title of Ultimate Brewsader. 

Being an Ultimate Brewsader earns you Ultimate Brewsader status that grants you bragging rights, and deals and discounts around town.

Note: This story was originally written by Matthew Makowski and has been updated to be current.