The doldrums of winter can wear on a person. Thank goodness for family willing to explore new breweries and beer. That’s exactly what I recently did when we found ourselves in Grand Rapids. We wanted to explore a new brewery, so we went to Brewery Vivant!
Brewery Vivant is well known for it’s artistic approach to the craft. Their beer style contributions are exciting and experimental. My family and I took this as a challenge and dived head first with almost all of their selections via flights and tulips of their fine beer.
Besides the beer, Brewery Vivant is well known for it’s location in the historic East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The building that Brewery Vivant is located in was a funeral home. When owners Jason and Kris Spaulding purchased the abandoned property, it had changed hands many times and was becoming a neighborhood eye sore. They had their work cut out for them, as their new-to-them historical building complete with a chapel and carriage stable turned car garage.
The Spauldings were not new to craft beer when they were working to open Brewery Vivant. Jason Spaulding was a co-founder of another popular West Michigan brewing company – New Holland.
After leaving New Holland in 2005, Jason and his wife Kris traveled around Europe visiting small, local breweries that were the only breweries people frequented in the region or neighborhood. They found the rustic and artistic approach of Belgian and French styles of beers to be more appealing than the rigid styles and structure of German styles. They brought this approach back to Michigan and started working on plans for Brewery Vivant, which went on to open in 2010.
One of their goals of the Spauldings for when they opened Brewery Vivant was to offer something new to the booming craft beer scene in Grand Rapids. I believe they have met and have exceeded this goal in both the brewery AND kitchen. They consider themselves “hyper local” in terms of the ingredients with both of these spaces and offerings. When I asked a few employees about just how local ingredients are, they all beamed with pride about how many partnerships exist between Brewery Vivant and Michigan farms, especially with exclusive deals for malts, hops, fruits, and vegetables.
The brewery runs on a twenty barrel system, which is custom fit for the historic carriage/car garage. There is also a small pilot system. A sour program has been underway since Day 1 which has provided Brewery Vivant with a solid following of sour fans.
Brewers have freedom to create whatever they would like, which allows Brewery Vivant to have 80 to 100 different styles of beer to offer per year. As of the end of 2018, the brewers were beginning to experiment with lagers and the booming New England IPA (NEIPA) style that swept across Michigan in 2018.
Overall, I was very impressed with Brewery Vivant! I would highly recommend it to locals and travelers alike looking to find a unique twist on craft beer. If you are a history buff, the brewery is crawling with historical gems and wonders for Grand Rapids and Michigan. Their beer is established and creative, their food is phenomenal, and their staff is welcoming and kind. I will definitely be back!