One of the beautiful aspects about the rise of craft beer in the United States is the tendency for breweries to settle into amazing buildings.

Fortunately for Grand Rapids, many of the breweries have found homes in unique old buildings and that makes for incredible experiences, even for non-beer lovers.

Take a look at a few Grand Rapids breweries located in historic buildings:

Exterior of Alebird Taphouse & Brewery, which is in a red, two-story building.
A glass of beer next to a growler container with the Alebird logo on it.

Alebird Taphouse & Brewery is located in a red, two-story building.

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Alebird Taphouse and Brewery, 2619 84th St. SW

Located in Byron Center, about 20 minutes southwest of downtown Grand Rapids, Alebird Taphouse and Brewery inhabits a historic building that was once a hotel busy with guests arriving from the nearby railway station.

The Hotel Byron was built in 1902 and the building still retains the hotel’s basic structure, though the interior has been beautifully rehabbed to include a light-filled taproom and second floor event space.

The hotel eventually closed and the building housed a succession of businesses and eateries. The longest running tenant was a restaurant that erected a giant chicken statue in the parking lot. “The Chicken” became a regionally famous icon for decades before the restaurant closed and it was removed.

The statue is gone, but the Alebird name and logo continue to pay homage to it and the community that embraced it.

Atwater Brewery
Atwater Brewery

Atwater Brewery is located in the first floor of the former Hotel Rowe, which opened to the public in 1923.

Photo by Experience GR (Taken by Bree Girard)

Atwater Brewery

Atwater Brewery occupies 6,000 square feet in the former Hotel Rowe, which opened to the public in 1923. The hotel’s 300 rooms, situated on a busy downtown Grand Rapids corner, played an essential role in the city’s ability to continue hosting the semi-annual Furniture Market, a national trade show for buyers and sellers of fine furniture.

The hotel ceased operation in the late 1950s and narrowly escaped demolition during the city’s urban renewal phase. The property was converted to a senior living facility in 1963 and renamed Olds Manor after automotive pioneer Ransom E. Olds, whose heirs invested in the project.

The building changed hands several times until finally closing in 2001. It then sat idle until its renovation as a mixed-use building with retail, residential apartments and condos in 2016. Detroit-based Atwater Brewery opened on the first floor of the Rowe in October 2016.

Outdoor Patio Of Brewery Vivant
Inside View of Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant's building pairs well with its beer.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Brewery Vivant, 925 Cherry St. SE

Enjoying one of Brewery Vivant’s Belgian-inspired brews in its taproom can take a customer on a spiritual journey.

Perhaps one of the most visually stunning brewery taprooms around, Brewery Vivant founders Kris and Jason Spaulding found their home in a former funeral home.

Anchoring the middle of the now-trendy Cherry Street, the funeral home operated from 1894 to 1980, but the building the brewery is housed in was built in 1915.

Today, Brewery Vivant’s taproom is located in what was the funeral home’s chapel, which features ornate Belgian monastery architecture; perfect for enjoying the brewery’s Belgian- and French-inspired beers.

Creston Brewery signage
Experience any number of vinyl nights at several bars and breweries around Grand Rapids, like Creston Brewery.

Pieces of the building’s Art Deco past can be seen in the tin ceiling tiles and the hand-carved handrail on the stairs leading to the second floor event space, dubbed “Golden Age.”

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Creston Brewery, 1504 Plainfield Ave. NE

The historic Creston Heights neighborhood, site of Creston Brewery, was annexed by Grand Rapids in 1891 and became a working class streetcar suburb of the city. The building itself was erected in 1929 for DeKorne Furniture, a business started by Dutch immigrant and master woodcarver Boudewyn DeKorne – who, in addition to crafting fine furniture, carved the original mold for the Lorna Doone cookie.

DeKorne Furniture endured until 1995, when the DeKorne family sold the building to a light manufacturing operation. The space sat vacant for a decade before the original owners of Creston Brewery purchased and renovated it, opening the brewery’s doors in 2016.

You can still see pieces of the building’s Art Deco past in the tin ceiling tiles and the hand-carved handrail on the stairs leading to the second floor event space, dubbed “Golden Age.” These details have been preserved by Saugatuck Brewing Co., which purchased the business in 2021.

Saugatuck Brewing also “preserved” many of Creston’s popular beers – like The Great Logjam of 1883, which references a major disaster that wreaked havoc from Grand Rapids to the lakeshore and threatened to destroy the local lumber and furniture industries.

Interior view of Grand Rapids Brewing Company
Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

The “new” Grand Rapids Brewing Company opened 79 years to the day after the repeal of Prohibition, in a downtown building just six blocks away from the original GRBC location.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co. opened in 2012, but it carries a legacy dating back to 1893.

That’s when six local breweries joined forces to open Grand Rapids Brewing Company in the face of new competition from Anheuser-Busch, which had constructed an icehouse in downtown Grand Rapids to aid in local distribution.

Grand Rapids Brewing became famous for its Silver Foam lager, whose popularity helped the brewery grow into a several-block complex encompassing large bottling facilities, an auditorium and apartments. That all ended with Prohibition in 1920. Once the alcohol ban was lifted, GRBC merged with several other local breweries and eventually left town.

The “new” Grand Rapids Brewing Company opened 79 years to the day after the repeal of Prohibition, in a downtown building just six blocks away from the original GRBC location. Today, the brewery offers some of the same beer recipes from the early days, including Silverfoam.

Outside The Mitten Brewing Company building.
Mitten Brewing Co. sign.

Fact: The Mitten Brewing Co.'s building is over 125 years old!

Photo by Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids

Mitten Brewing Co., 527 Leonard St. NW

The Mitten Brewing Co. embraces history, especially the history of its own building.

Owners Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus chose the historic Engine House No. 9 as the home for their brewery in 2012 and have since spent a significant amount of time restoring the building and honoring its past.

As the brewery was figuring out how to decorate the expansion into the upstairs, they decided to dedicate it to the history of the firehouse, which operated from 1890 to 1966.

The downstairs taproom is where the wagons and steam engines were housed, while the taproom brewhouse and kitchen were the stables for the horses. The upstairs taproom was the living quarters, and don’t worry, the building’s original fire pole is still on display.

Employees of the brewery have also documented haunted activity in the brewery, with a ghostly footprint preserved in the middle of the upstairs bar.

Founders Brewing Company - Outside with Fire Pit
Founders' focus on beer that's “Brewed For Us” lead to the creation of brews like Dirty Bastard and Kentucky Breakfast Stout.

Fact: Founders Brewing Co. opened its second location in November 2017!

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Founders Brewing Co., 235 Grandville Ave. SW

It’s hard to tell after a decade of massive expansions, but Founders Brewing Co. is located in a truck depot from the middle of the 20th century.

When the brewery founders Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers first looked at the space, it was vacant and run down, perfect for a growing brewery.

Since Founders moved into the former truck depot, which is now the taproom, the brewery has grown from brewing 6,000 barrels of beer in 2007 to brewing more than 460,000 in 2017, making it the largest brewery in Michigan.

Harmony Hall monster room

Harmony Hall's decor reflects its building's varied history.

Photo by Courtesy of Harmony Hall

Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking Ave. NW

Sausage is a natural pairing with beer, but even more so if the brewery is in an old sausage factory.

Harmony Hall is in a building most recently used as a Mexican restaurant, but with roots as the Rauser Quality Sausage Factory. At its peak, the factory made more than a ton of sausage per day and distributed this to a 125-mile radius outside of Grand Rapids.  

Built as the factory in 1908, it became Little Mexico in 1968 and was a staple for several decades until 2012.

Harmony Hall opened in 2014, complete with a menu focused on house-made sausages.

For more information on Grand Rapids award winning beer scene, check out our list of craft breweries, guided and/or self-guided beer tours, and our Beer City Brewsader Passport app.