Summer in Beer City, USA

Cheers to all of you on this steamy Thirsty Thursday here in Beer City, USA.
What’s that? 
You didn’t realize that Grand Rapids, MI earned the title (ok, tied with Asheville, NC) of Beer City, USA recently? Well, we did! Grand Rapidians are spoiled rotten with our incredible bars & breweries! 
Today, I’m sharing a few fun summer picks: Grand Rapids bars & breweries with fantastic outdoor seating & beer selections… even the bars that are kid-friendly. Yes, kid-friendly breweries do exist! My focus is to feature establishments visitors to the Grand Beer City, USA might appreciate this summer. 
My first selection will not shock anyone who knows this Momma well… 
What’s not to love about Grand Rapids’ crown-jewel?
  • Big patio/deck with round picnic tables.
    • On beautiful days, the garage-door-like walls of windows are opened and the entire brewery is essentially outdoors.
  • Free parking. This is huge, considering it is a downtown establishment.
  • Moderately kid-friendly. 
    • My kids enjoy dancing on the stage, drinking root-beer and munching on the cheesy-garlic bread. 
  • On site deli; incredible sandwiches & appetizers.
  • What to drink at Founders in the summer?
    • Cerise
    • Curmudgeon
    • All-Day IPA
    • Anything on nitro. 
  • The best patio seating in all of Grand Rapids; a combination of comfy couches, tables & chairs.
  • Incredible beer selection, from the Hopcat brewers to many Michigan craft-beers and beyond, plus a full-service bar for cocktails if beer *gasp* isn’t your thing. There really is something for everyone.
  • Good food, but the menu is limited after 10pm.
  • Kid AND Pet friendly (pets on the outdoor patio only) 
  • What to drink at The Hopcat in the summer?
    • Hopcat Hoppopotomus IPA
    • Hopcat Cougar Juice
    • Shorts Anniversary Ale
    • Any VanderMill Cider
  • The beer selection offers something for everyone, from PBR to a ton of Michigan beer.
  • Full-bar if you would enjoy a cocktail instead. 
    • Specialty: Vern Ehler’s: Vernors + Jamison.
  • Happy hour until 8p daily… many specials offered during the week.
    • Thursdays = half off Michigan pints!
  • Large, yet intimate Beer Garden featuring old-school picnic tables and a sweet mural.
  • A juke-box that will make even the biggest music fan feel stumped on what to play. 
  • Not kid-friendly. Yes, that’s right. They do not serve food, therefore, no-one under 21 is allowed at any time. 
  • What to drink at The Meanwhile in the summer?
    • Shorts Soft Parade
    • Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA
    • For those on a budget (and/or drinking all night) PBR or cans of Black Label ($0.75 on Tuesdays!) 
    • Vern Ehler’s
  • The best kept secret in Grand Rapids!! Big Bob’s is a tiny bar/pizza joint, but they have an incredible beer selection, and a full bar. 
  • Kid-friendly. They offer self-serve popcorn, crayons, board games & books. 
  • Small outdoor patio. 
  • Knowledgable, friendly staff. The hubs & I have never had bad service here. Ever.
  • What to drink at Big Bob’s in the summer?
    • Bell’s Oberon
    • Tri-City Brewing Co Wee Heavy Scotch Ale
    • Founders Centennial IPA
  • Beautiful, inside & out, offering a sunny brick patio with umbrellas at each table.
  • Kid-friendly, offering a children’s menu they can color, kid-friendly cups with lids; bonus: servers bring complimentary spiced popcorn to your table.
  • The menu offers a variety of food that rotates seasonally, and they offer a beer-pairing dinner monthly (this is where I enjoyed Beer Social GR last fall) 
  • Excellent beer selection, tapping a Cask every Wednesday. 
  • What to drink at Derby Station in the summer?
    • Brewery Vivant Farmhand
    • Dark Horse Raspberry Ale
    • Saugatuck Oval Beach Blonde Ale
    • Michigan Beer Cellers Black Magic IPA
  • They are building a curbside deck… today! 
  • Kid friendly. Like Big Bob’s, Harmony offers a variety of pizzas, kid-friendly plastic cups with lids along with coloring pages to keep your kiddos busy while you drink and wait for your meal.
  • Very friendly, knowledgable staff. 
  • Unique aspect of this brewery? They offer cocktails as well as beer.
  • What to drink at Harmony in the summer?
    • Grapefruit Moon Shandy
    • Golden Lion Tamarin Pale Ale
    • Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
      • Thatcher’s MI organic blueberry liqueur, ginger liqueur, rum & Happy Farm Ale. 
Honorable Mentions:
Fellow Beer City, USA residents: 
How did I do? What did I miss? Please share in the comments below! 
Happy Summer! CHEERS & Happy Thirsty Thursday to all of you! 

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  1. Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I was really impressed with the quality of Harmony’s beers for being a new place. I would highly suggest the vegan pizza on the menu-for meat eaters too. It was shockingly good in comparison to a more classic pizza.

    • Posted May 24, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, Valerie!! We haven’t had a chance to eat pizza at Harmony yet, and I’m always game for a good veggie &/or vegan pizza! I know Brick Road offers a vegan pizza on their menu that I’ve enjoyed as well.

      Thanks for the input, Val! CHEERS!

  2. Posted May 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    My brothers have been slowly enticing me to join them in their love of beers. I was at Founders for the KBS launch party. That was the first time I’ve ever been there, and I was impressed. This list has me thinking that we need to take a Beer Vacation. (My favorite kind of vacation!)

    • Posted May 25, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely!! Grand Rapids is the place to be for a nice beer vacation! Good for you for camping out for the KBS launch party. I didn’t go, but I heard about how massive it was!

  3. Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    I used to love going to the Grand Rapids Brewing Company before they closed. But I love Founder’s Brewing Company.. delicious!

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    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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