These days, most everyone who enjoys good beer knows that Grand Rapids produces some of the country’s finest brews. But did you know that we also craft a wide range of other amazing beverages? In fact, Grand Rapids is America’s Craft Beverage Capital. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. USA Today Says So

USA Today crowned Grand Rapids the Craft Beverage Capital of the U.S. after one of its journalists visited 10 local craft beverage producers. Far be it from us to quibble with the nation’s #1 newspaper!

Three pint glasses that read 'Beer City USA Grand Rapids' filled with different beers.

Dozens of breweries, award-winning beers and the votes of USA Today readers affirm Grand Rapids' top spot for craft beer.

Photo Credit: Use Information: For Experience Grand Rapids


2. We’re America’s Best Beer City

Beer is the king of craft beverages, and Grand Rapids is the ruling seat. USA Today readers voted us America’s Best Beer City in 2021 (for the third time). The city boasts 40+ breweries and some of the nation’s top-ranked beers. (Have you tried Founders Brewing Company’s KBS?) More than 20,000 beer-lovers across the country have become Beer City Brewsaders® and earned a free t-shirt by visiting at least eight local breweries. 

3. We Craft a Lot More than Just Beer

World-class spirits. Lip-smacking hard ciders. Unique fruit wines. Hearty meads. There are more than 50 producers of these luscious libations in and around Grand Rapids, many incorporating locally farmed crops for distinctive flavor. You can find their creations in tasting rooms, bars, restaurants and grocery stores across the region.

Ferris Coffee Latte
Fresh juice at Sip

West Michigan takes craft beverages seriously--and that includes alcohol-free options.

Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids


4. We Craft Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Too

There are plenty of local options for an alcohol-free craft experience, from coffee roasters and kombucha brewers to juice bars, soda producers and soft cider makers. We truly do have a craft beverage for every thirst.

5. Our Craft Beverages Win Awards

Just a few 2020 highlights: Cedar Spring Brewing Company medaled at the Best of Craft Beer Awards. The U.S. Open Beer Championship awarded two medals to Cedar Springs Brewing Company and three to New Holland Brewing Company. Founders Brewing Company and Perrin Brewing Company medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. Long Road Distillers scored eight medals at the American Craft Spirits Awards. Eastern Kille Distillery took home six awards in various national and International competitions. We’d list more, but we don’t want to sound like we’re bragging.

You're Neat - friends hanging out at One Bourbon - outdoor patio.

Whether its inside or outside, Grand Rapids has a spot for you to enjoy your favorite craft beverage,

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


6. We’ve Got Cool Places to Enjoy a Drink

Kick back at a brewery with an awesome outdoor space. Raise a pint in a renovated funeral home, fire station, truck depot or sausage factory. Enjoy the drinks and ambiance at a fun themed bar or restaurant. Or carry your drink with you as you explore the city – our Downtown Refreshment Area allows you to enjoy an alcoholic beverage as you stroll from one end of the neighborhood to the other. 

Rick Martinez, HopCat's Beer Program Director & Event Coordinator, talks beer and food with AB.

The Beer City Eats series showcases the level of care put into the beer and food at breweries throughout Grand Rapids.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


7. We Have Great Food to Pair with Great Drinks

Grand Rapids is Michigan’s Best Food City, according to Thrillist ­– and some of our most delicious and creative menus can be found at local breweries. Check out our Beer City Eats videos to tantalize your taste buds. Many local restaurants also serve local beverages, and more than a few incorporate them into recipes.

GR Paddling - Photo taken by Emily Sierra Photography. Emily is a writer who came to Grand Rapids for outdoor recreation, 2018.

Outdoor recreation, live music and art are just a few other craft beverage pairings to try in Grand Rapids.

Photo Credit: Emily Sierra Photography


8. There Are Lots of Other Pairings to Explore

You know what else goes great with a craft beverage? Live concerts – and Grand Rapids is home to more than 100 venues hosting all genres of music. How about a little art with your beer? ArtPrize, the world’s most attended art event, showcases an official beer during each competition. Many of our community festivals incorporate a craft beverage element. (Some of them specifically celebrate craft beverages.) And, of course, nothing’s better than a liquid refreshment after a day in our Grand Outdoors.

9. Our Craft Scene is Diverse

A few highlights: Women have played an integral role in crafting our beverage industry. Black-owned beverage businesses include The Bitter End Coffeehouse, Black Calder Brewing, GR NoirMotu Viget Spirits and Malamiah Juice Bar. Soldadera is a cold-brew coffee company inspired by the owner’s grandmother, who was a social activist in Mexico. Diversity extends to the tap list, with breweries adapting styles and flavors from across the globe, and the city’s first gluten-free brewery, Brewery Nyx, set to open in the latter half of 2021.

Participate in one of Long Road Distillers many Cocktail Week GR events, and don't forget to indulge in their limited time offerings.

Connect with friends and family over a beverage at participating Craft Pass GR locations, and be rewarded for supporting these local businesses.

Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids


10. We Reward You for Drinking Local

Craft Pass GR is an annual celebration of our craft beverage community ­– and it includes rewards for patronizing local craft businesses. (At least 25 breweries, cideries, distilleries, meaderies and distilleries are on board for 2021.) Just download the digital pass and check in to at least six craft producers to earn a FREE gift. Craft Pass GR 2021 takes place June 29-October 31, so it’s a great time to sample drinks infused with fresh summer and fall flavors in addition to year-round favorites. 

What’s your favorite Grand Rapids craft beverage? Let us know in the comments below!

 
 
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