Beer + Trees + Parks For The Win!

It’s no secret that I adore beer, but you know what else I love? Trees. BrewersGroveProject

Yup, my secret’s out… I love trees. I’ve even hugged a few! I know, I live on the EDGE. 

So you can imagine my excitement to be invited to lend a hand in The Brewers Grove Project, right here in Beer City! 

The Brewers Grove Project began last year, when each Grand Rapids area brewery collaborated to create their own unique spin on a tree-inspired beer. At first, I thought… wait, what? Tree-inspired? But when I think about all the oak-aged, maple-infused, cedar-smoked, fruit-tree deliciousness that trees play a role in beer I already love… this is a brilliant concept. 

But wait, it gets better

Grand Rapids area breweries are teaming up with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to raise money for their Urban Forest Project, an initiative to maximize the tree canopy in all parts of the city. 

Yes!! These tree-beers will serve a purpose… $1 of each pint sold will go toward the Brewers Grove Fund! 

Starting on Friday, August 29th, pop into any Grand Rapids area brewery as well as local brewpubs The Meanwhile Bar, Green Well, and Big Bob’s Pizza to order a tree inspired beer. The money collected from each tree-inspired beer will support tree plantings and expand The Brewers Grove concept started at Riverside Park last fall, where brewers planted 30 (!!) trees with the money raised. 

A kickoff party is planned at Harmony Brewing Company at 5pm on August 29th, where city commissioners, brewers, media, and YOU can learn more about The Brewers Grove Project and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, while sampling tree inspired beers from around Beer City, including selections from White Flame, Pike 51, Cellar Breweries and Harmony’s own tree-themed Sumac Hefeweizen. 

Finally, at the end of this drool-inducing tree-beer trail, there will be a party of EPIC proportions!! 

A Tree Beer Party at The Brewers Grove space on the north side of Riverside Park is planned on Friday, September 12th, beginning at 7pm. Bring your own wine, cider or beer to enjoy, along with blankets and chairs to watch an outdoor screening of the cult-classic movie “Strange Brew” at 8:30pm. This movie was shot in 3B – three beers – and it looks good, eh? 

This is where you can bring your favorite growler of tree-beer, chat with brewers and fellow craft beer-lovers, and sign up to take part in the The Brewers Grove tree planting in October.

Looking for the latest information? How about a Tree Beer Map? Check out

Also, if you’re sick of, ya know, reading, this fantastic video promoting The Brewers Grove Project rocks! 

And finally… here’s what you’re really looking for — *drumroll* — the tree-beers!!

Hope to clink pints and toast to trees with you over the next few weeks! 

B.O.B.’s Brewery
Tangerine Trees, Fruited Wit

Brewery Vivant 
Devastation, Oak Aged Double IPA

Cellar Brewing Company 
Apple Ridge IPA, Fruited IPA

Crankers Brewery
Kangaroo Rodeo, Barrel Aged Brown Ale

EB Coffee & Pub 
Oaked Melon Saison, Red Oak Saison

Elk Brewing 
Sassafras Brown, Sassafras Brown

Founders Brewing Company 
Lil’ Saplin’, Young Barrel Aged Scotch Ale with Additional Oak

Grand Rapids Brewing Company 
Bonita Applebrown, Smoked Brown Porter with Apple

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply 
Cedarino, Cedar Planked Pale Ale

Harmony Brewing Company 
Sumac Attack, Sumac Hefeweizen

The Hideout Brewing Company 
Sticky TreeHugger, Maple Oak Pilsner

Naughty Nicodemus, Cucumber Juniper Lime Gruit

Jaden James Brewery 
Smoke on the Water, Smoked Marzen

The Mitten Brewing Co. 
Oak Aged Pine Tar DIPA, DIPA (week 1)
Cherry Oaked Wee Heavy, Wee Heavy (week 2)

O’Connor’s Homebrew Supply, 
Smokin’ Red Wood Scotch Ale, Extract Kit

Osgood Brewing
Spruce Almighty, Spruce Tip Black IPA

Perrin Brewing Company 
Hopwood, Oak Aged Double-IPA

Pike 51 Brewing Company
Beer that shall not be named, Maple Almond Belgian Brown Ale

Rockford Brewing Company 
Beechwood Brown, Smoked Oatmeal Brown

Schmohz Brewery 
Barrel Aged Kiss My Scottish Arse, Smoked Scottish Ale

White Flame Brewing Company
Nut Job, Black Walnut Ale

The Peoples Cider Company
Cherry Tree Cyser, Cherry Cyser



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Tent Camping: If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

About 6 months ago, I decided to make reservations at a campground near my family’s cottage, where we celebrate our annual family reunion on the 4th of July. There’s never enough room for everyone to sleep at the cottage, and camp reservations for the 4th of July weekend have to be made 6 months in advance or you’re screwed. I booked 3 nights on January 3rd for July 3rd, crossing my fingers for good weather.

Hello, my name is Kelli and I am a fair-weather camper. Hi, Kelli.

Cut to 5 months later, when my cousin sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and a memorial was planned at my family cottage 5 days before our trip.

So off I went to check with the campground for 4 extra nights…

Sure, we’d have to switch sites mid-camp, but that’s not a big deal, right?! Even though we’ll be tenting it?! The hubs NEEDED and DESERVED a weeklong vacation. Something he rarely does. We’d be less than a mile away from our family cottage on Lake Michigan…

So, I booked it, and crossed my fingers, toes, and lips around a few beers for a week of good weather and attitudes.

I was completely sober at the time of booking, yet… I still don’t quite know what I was thinking.

I drowned myself in planning for everything from the time I booked that week to packing up the invisible jet like a Tetris game.

The weather channel app was stalked more than any social media app on my phone.

The forecast for showers scared me, but I focused on being there for my family and getting camp set up.

The first night, at around 4am, it happened… drip drip drop… POUR. Boom. Lightning. I laid in my metal cot scared our tent wouldn’t hold up… and, of being struck by lightning. But I was in fear alone, as the rest of my family slept through it.

I woke up the hubs… he assured me we were safe, yelled at me to shut the hell up and go back to sleep. Yeah. Sure.

Thankfully, the storm was mainly rainy, and not too bad, at least… compared to the next night.

The hubs and I got up with our kids and started to assess the situation while we both stalked the weather app again. The forecast called for more storms. The hubs even saw the potential for tornados. Why he told me this is beyond me. I was ready to pack it in. The hubs said “this is camping!” Good times.

So after forcing multiple IPAs in me, the hubs somehow convinced me to ignore the forecast and enjoy our day, visit family at the cottage and swim in lake michigan.

After that excitement, we came back to camp, lit a fire, made dinner, and my youngest and I braved the campground showers I know I’ve been watching a lot of OITNB, but these were a notch above prison showers! Living the DREAM!

The four of us snuggled and told stories around the campfire, then crashed after the sun finally went down — around 11p or so.

And now… a timeline.

I wake up to wind, rain, thunder and lightning.

My oldest crawls into the cot with me. Crying. So scared. I try to stay strong until the hubs starts yelling at me to go back to sleep… now I’m crying.

Storm is building up instead of improving. In full-on tears, I beg the hubs to join my oldest and me in the van. We’d go to the cottage, but I freaked out wondering what to bring, what to leave. Plus, the hubs was being stubborn about not leaving the tent and I refused to leave them behind! GA! Stress!

My oldest and I camp out in the van, holding hands in the front seats, wondering how my youngest was sleeping through all of this… and “why is daddy so crazy and mean at night?” Crying. Laughing. Talking.

Screen tent implodes into itself. Chairs fly. Tornado sirens. Yes, I said tornado sirens. I text the hubs to get the fuck out of the tent and bring my youngest ASAP.

We are no longer alone in our awakened state of fear — we see the entire campground run to the bathrooms. Already in the van, with my family, I drive. Yeah, I know. I’m such a hard core camper.

Party in the campground bathroom! Who brought the keg?!

The hubs hears whines from all 3 of his girls: “we wanna go home!” Especially after seeing more storms in the forecast for the next few nights. (yes, I was still obsessed with my weather app) More of THIS insanity?! Nope! I assure my kids we’ll be home in about 12hrs. The hubs sighs.

Park ranger gives everyone the go-ahead to head back to our sites. Storm is passing. The four of us sit in the van and joke and laugh at the bullshit we just endured.

Rain ends. We go back into our tent… Where we all immediately and miraculously sleep until 8:30am.

The bright sun drags our tired bodies out of our tent (that suffered ZERO damage! Swiss Gear FTW!!) to tear down the damaged bullshit from our campsite… mainly so we can get to our cooler, save the precious beer, and make some damn coffee before we pack up the rest of our gear and head home.

We arrive back home, safe and sound. Feeling like we had been gone for a week.

Some people have joked “will you ever camp again?!” Yes, of course we will! While I don’t know if I’d ever schedule a week of tent-camping again, I’d be game for a long weekend.

When the weather was good, we were really enjoying ourselves. Even when it was raining — we had some fun talking and playing old maid and connect-four together, instead of being stuck with our noses in electronics.

It was a surprisingly positive experience overall. The wind was so strong the 3 days we were there, the bugs were practically non-existent. We got to spend time with extended family at the cottage and enjoyed swimming big waves in Lake Michigan.

The campground itself was easy to navigate, and our huge tent rocked. We never got wet, and it more than held up through multiple storms and an effing tornado!

Last, but maybe most importantly, it was a character builder and bonding experience for all 4 of us.

Oh, and for those who thought we should’ve stuck it out for the week — a few more storms swept through the campground the next couple of days. We made the right decision. Even if it ended up being crystal clear and a perfect 69 degrees the rest of the week… we knew we made the right decision. We got to enjoy being home. Our beds felt like heaven. We went to the library, read books, napped, watched movies, went to parks, drank good beer, went to see fireworks… basically had some low key days and nights… it was nice.

I used my phone on a music dock quite a bit over our trip. This kept me from taking too many pictures… which is fine. The mental snapshots I have are awesome. And I will savor the following gems from our tent-camping adventures for many years to come.





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Scheduling Summer?

Last year was my first “nap free summer” — as in, the first year I had two children awake, in need of entertainment. All. Effing. Day. Long.

I made a magic boredom eraser jar with little slips of activities… that crapped out by day 3. Then… I had… nothing. Most days, it was too hot to do much outside… so onto the screens they went. Just so momma could get some shit done!

This year, we’re all a little older and wiser. The kids are 6 and 9, and don’t need an entertainer as much as a guide (and driver, obviously).

About half way through the school year, I realized that my oldest was struggling when she would come home from school (cranky, tired, anxious, unfocused) except on days with some level of a schedule. Mondays, for example, were dance days — forcing her to do her homework while her sister danced. If she didn’t have homework, she had to read a book. This was something we extended to the rest of the week. In order for her to earn that precious computer time — she had to be without screens until 5p. I can’t even explain how well this worked. Sure, some days… she didn’t want to, but I’d be flexible if she didn’t have homework + wasn’t into reading; I’d have her write or draw instead.

Cut to the final weeks of school when I’m reading endless articles about living the “best summer of your life” by *not* scheduling anything!

That may work for some families!!

I would love it if it worked for us… but… it doesn’t.

And when you have one daughter who thrives on a schedule, and another who’s a go-with-the-flow gal — guess who wins?! The schedule-thriver.

I talked about it for weeks.

I have to make a schedule.
I will make a schedule.
Hmmm, what should I include on the schedule?

Then I blinked and the last day of school arrived — and as I whined and moaned about it ending, I finally put pencil to paper and sketched out a schedule.

The kids loved it.

I know it’s shocking, but that’s *not* a typo!

The girls were excited to see how I carved out outdoor time, screen time, reading time, art time, alone time, etc. I also added a little disclosure note at the bottom about reserving the right to change the schedule at any time for various reasons, and to be flexible — it’s SUMMER! And roughly sketched Olaf to lighten the mood. (when in doubt, quote Frozen)

While I haven’t been diligently following my own daily schedule — even after scheduling “momma’s work-time” during certain time-frames, — the kids have been using the schedule for the last week, and it’s… working.

Wait, what?!?

I had a feeling it might… but I had no idea they’d love it as much as they do. Since unveiling the schedule last week, I haven’t heard “I’m bored” much at all. Sibling fights have been minimal. Sometimes they may want to move something around on the schedule, but… I’m absolutely fine with that. See what happens when you *start* out “strict”?! You = hero when you loosen up the reigns! Wins all around!

I’ve been joining the girls on a few art projects, outdoor activities and many other things I sometimes avoid just so I can get the dishes or laundry done… seeing it on the schedule not only prepares the kids, but gives me an opportunity to set things up, and helps me to plan my chores around the activities I’d like to share.

On that note, I thought about adjusting the schedule to add a daily chore or two, but for now, I do want all of us to have fun and enjoy the summer. Even if it is moderately scheduled — it’s helping us not only stay sane, but keep our noses out of electronics 24/7. *She says as her eyes peer over an electronic device… whoops.*

At 6 and 9… we only have a few “childhood” summers left. Our electronics and chores will be there tomorrow… or the next day… or the day after that. Sometimes, ya gotta enjoy the laughter with the people who are right in front of you! Especially faces like these.



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  • About Me

    Kelli Williams

    Kelli Williams

    Keeping up with 2 little girls, writing assignments, music gigs, the house, laundry, ETC, backwards, wearing ass kicking boots and a smile, without spilling my beer. Ok, ok, so I spill my beer, but my floors have never been more germ-free since I started putting a little alcohol on them. Who needs ammonia...

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