Grand Rapids, Michigan is nicknamed “Beer City USA” for good reason — more than 50 breweries and distilleries call the greater area home. The best part? You can try plenty of the region’s finest brews (and spirits, too!) from as little as $4 a pop. Plus, if you book accommodation at a downtown hotel like the JW Marriott or Amway Grand Plaza, it’s easy to take public transportation or walk to dozens of the city’s top watering holes. Here, three affordable bar crawls for three Grand Rapids neighborhoods.
Downtown Grand Rapids
In the heart of Grand Rapids, you’ll find most of the city’s hotels, the riverwalk, and Grand Rapids Art Museum, along with the following bars and breweries:
Founders The city’s most well-known brewery, Founders repurposed a former trucking depot into a modern taproom. If weather permits, have a seat outside on the spacious patio and enjoy flights of beer (pricing varies) with a hearty sandwich (from $8.25). On Mondays, take advantage of the daily special with pints starting at just $3.
HopCat Ranked the third best beer bar in the world by Beer Advocate Magazine, HopCat boasts 49 taps. Pints of local brews will set you back $4.50 – $6.50.
Grand Rapids Brewing Co. Founded in 1893, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. returned to downtown in 2012 to open its new, sustainable facility. Visit during half-off happy hour (Sundays – Thursdays from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.) when pints start at $2 each.
Walk along Bridge Street NW in Grand Rapids’ most up-and-coming neighborhood to visit these four must-try establishments:
The Knickerbocker New Holland Brewing Company’s sprawling brewpub offers a full food menu and plenty of craft beers on tap, including their barrel-aged Imperial Stout, Dragon’s Milk. If they have it on tap, make sure to try a pint of Latifolia: a light beer with hints of lime and salt.
The Søvengård Located below DENYM boutique, Sovengard is part biergarten, part Nordic-influenced restaurant. During summer, take your pick from dozens of domestic and imported brews (from $4), or splurge on a hand-crafted cocktail (from $9), then head outside to the expansive back patio.
Steel Cat Bar Touted as Grand Rapids’ first and only frost rail bar — meaning a portion of the bar is lined with a sheet of ice — Steel Cat Bar serves up specialty cocktails and regularly features 14 beers on tap. But the real beverage draw is an extensive Mule list. From $6 a mug (or $5 during happy hour), Steel Cat offers nine variations of a traditional Moscow Mule. Or, when bar hopping with a group, consider the Giant Mule — a 192-ounce behemoth for $55.
Butcher’s Union If whiskey is your libation of choice, then Butcher’s Union is the place for you. This new restaurant has a collection of around 200 varieties of bourbon, rye, scotch, and more spirits. Enjoy them on their own, or try a variety of Manhattan or Old Fashioned-influenced cocktails (from $8). Plus, the restaurant prides itself in locally sourced ingredients used in its meat-centric menu.
Eastown & East Hills
Two of Grand Rapids’ more charming neighborhoods, Eastown and East Hills have many eclectic cafes, restaurants, and of course, breweries.
Brewery Vivant Housed in a former funeral home, Brewery Vivant is the first LEED-certified commercial microbrewery in the world. Visit on Saturdays at 2 p.m. to take a $10 tour of the production facilities and enjoy tastings. First come, first serve.
ELK Brewing Husband-wife-duo Erik and Lisa Karns (ELK) turned their brewing hobby into a successful business, opening the doors to the public in May 2014. Try unique brews like the Tart Cherry IPA in the brewery’s industrial-chic setting.
Harmony Brewing Company Relax in Harmony Brewing Company’s cozy Eastown location (their secondary location, Harmony Hall, can be integrated as part of the Westside bar crawl). Hop highlights include the tart La Gabelle Gose and the Lovely Day IPA. Enjoy your beer with one of Harmony’s wood-fired pizzas.