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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Brewery Vivant: Grand Rapids Michigan

Grand Rapids, MI continues to live up it's title of "Beer City USA."  Back in late 2010, a couple of guys with a lot of brewing experience opened a brewery in a former funeral home.  As I understand it, the concept was to brew Franco-Belgian-style beers in an ecologically responsible way and to pair those beers with local, wholesome food. Thus, Brewery Vivant was born.

Some of Brewery Vivant's Offerings
I'd seen this brewery's beer sold in cans for some time in the beer aisle of my favorite store.  However, being a beer-bottle collector, and having grown up in the age of "cans=bad beer" I never purchased it.  The buzz, however, surrounding the brewery continued to grow and they were getting rave reviews from just about everybody.  As a lark before going out golfing one afternoon, I grabbed a 4-pack of the imperial saison (called Zaison), thinking this style would be perfect for a hot day golfing.  Note that the cans are a pint (about 16 lf oz) and pretty pricy at about $14 a 4-pack. I opened the beer and took a drink.  Wow, I thought.  The beer was marvelous, with a slight hint of spices (peppercorns and orange peel according to the label).  About half way through the pint, I was a little confused as I started to feel an alcohol-buzz.  Sure enough, after carefully looking at the label I found it was 9% ABV!  About twice what I was expecting given the style.  My golf suffered a little, but we all make sacrifices right?

Okay, not a great beer for golfing, but an excellent beer for just about everything else.  The saison, and the other styles they make, are currently some of my favorite beers.

The reputation of Brewery Vivant continues to grow.  They have recently collaborated with the craft brew giant New Belgium Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO.  The first of their collaborations is on sale now in Michigan called Escoffier Brett Beer, a French farmhouse ale (biere de garde). The beer celebrates the pairing of beer and food.  I hear that the next beer will also be a farmhouse ale presented as the next incarnation of New Belgium's "Lips of Faith" series.  Now that New Belgium beers are being sold in Michigan, I hope that we will be able to get it in the Great Lakes State.

I look forward to seeing what else is in store for Brewery Vivant and simply must make a trip over to Grand Rapids to visit the brewery.


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