There’s no doubt that Grand Rapids is known for its award-winning craft beer.

While many cities across the United States have burgeoning beer scenes, only Grand Rapids has been voted “Beer City, USA” and is a threepeat winner of USA Today’s Best Beer Scene/City polls. In 2019, CNN named Grand Rapids one of the 15 best beer cities in the world.

The Grand Rapids area is also home to over 40 breweries, all of which are producing a variety of award-winning beer, year-round.

We asked Pat Evans, author of the book, Grand Rapids Beer: An Intoxicating History of River City Brewing, to profile some of the breweries and beverages that make West Michigan a world-class beer city. His impressions follow below.

Visit these breweries with the Beer City Brewsader® Passport loaded on your smartphone and you’re on your way to earning a free t-shirt – you need to check in to just eight breweries total to become an official Brewsader.

Cedar Springs Brewing Co.'s Kusterer Orginal Weißbier

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Cedar Springs Brewing Co. live music

Live music at Cedar Springs Brewing Co.

Photo by Cedar Spring Brewing Company

The Kusterer line of beers at Cedar Springs Brewing Co., shines a light on the extremely bright history of beer in Grand Rapids, so it’s a great place to start your Brewsader journey.

Cedar Springs’ line of classic German lagers pays tribute to Christoph Kusterer, a German immigrant who was one of the most powerful men in early Grand Rapids history and who paved the way for early Grand Rapids brewers. 

Multiple Kusterer beers have won awards, including the Original Weißbier, which has racked up honors from the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Awards, Best of Craft Beer Awards and New York International Beer Competition.

Sometime in 2021, Cedar Springs plans to open Kusterer Brauhaus, a Bavarian-style beer hall, in the Bridge Street entertainment district adjacent to downtown Grand Rapids.

Rockford Brewing Co.'s Sheehan’s Stout

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Rockford Brewing Company live music

Did You Know: Rockford Brewing Co. is also known as a live music and artist venue.

Photo by Rockford Brewing Company

Rockford Brewing Co. was named Best Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver a few years back.

The recognition was due in part to  two of Rockford’s signature beers, Sheehan’s Stout and Rogue River Brown, which were both awarded medals in the competition.

Sheehan’s Stout is a perfect winter warmer as a classic Irish stout. A beer that has been on tap since the brewery’s launch, it’s been spot on for the style since its first release and is worth at least a few sips on a visit to Grand Rapids.

New Holland’s Dragon’s Milk

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New Holland Brewing: The Knickerbocker

New Holland Brewing: The Knickerbocker

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

New Holland Brewing is one of West Michigan’s original craft breweries, helping build what has turned into one of the finest beer regions in the U.S. 

The brewery opened in 1997 in Holland before extending its brand to Grand Rapids with The Knickerbocker - which helped kick off a beer revolution on the West Side. 

Dragon’s Milk is an incredible example of bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, and that’s before acknowledging it’s aged for just three months. The stout is available year-round and nearly nationwide. 

In recent years, New Holland Brewing has had fun experimenting with a variety of spinoffs, like Dragon’s Milk Reserve: Peanut Butter & Cocoa Nibs.

Mitten Brewing Co.'s Triple Crown Brown

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Mitten Brewing Co is home to Hearts for the Arts' exhibition during ArtPrize 10.

Fact: The Mitten Brewing Co.'s building used to be "home" to the historic Engine House No. 9!

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

West Michigan is home to a load of excellent brown ales, ranging from Rockford’s Rogue River Brown to Thornapple Brewing Co.’s award-winning My Brown Eyed Girl.

The Mitten Brewing Co.’s brown ale, Triple Crown Brown, represents an even more underappreciated style, English-style Mild Ale, for which it brought home a silver medal from the 2016 World Beer Cup. Similarly, the Mitten’s West Coast Swing Amber won a Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2018.

At 4.2 percent ABV, Triple Crown Brown is a light beer but packs a good amount of nuttiness and caramel.

The Mitten also operates pubs in Saugatuck, a lakeshore community 40 minutes southwest of Grand Rapids, and in Northport, in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Brewery Vivant's Plein De Vie series

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Brewery Vivant Exterior

Brewery Vivant is known for its Belgian and French style brews, as well as its location in what was once a funeral home.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Brewery Vivant helped expand Grand Rapidians’ palates when it opened in 2010 making Belgian- and French-inspired beers. It helps to get acquainted first with the Farm Hand, one of the finest examples of American farmhouse ales.

The Uptown brewery has always experimented with wood-aged beers but has steadily ramped up its founding.

The barrel-aged sour ale Angelina, one of its Plein De Vie series beers, took home a bronze medal at the 2016 Great American Beer Fest.

Brewery Vivant’s Plein De Vie series beers aren’t always available at its pub, but there’s a good chance another tasty wood-aged beer will be.

Also, don't forget about Founders Brewing Co.'s yearly KBS release. New in 2020, the brewery is featuring the award-winning imperial coffee chocolate stout year-round. Keep an eye out for Founders' KBS starting in February.

Looking for breweries to add to your Brewsader® Passport or for the best brew in your neighborhood? Start your search at the Beer City, USA page.

This post was originally written by Pat Evans and has been updated by Experience Grand Rapids.