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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Destination GR: Craft beer capital of Michigan

With several established breweries leading the way, and with more on the horizon, Grand Rapids is poised to become a center for beer-related tourism. That's a good thing for West Michigan residents, and here's why.

Our in-store brewery map needs updating
By Steve Siciliano

Last Saturday Barb and I were at Brewery Vivant enjoying beers and appetizers when a couple of folks sat down next to us at the bar. We began chatting, and during the course of the conversation they told us that they were from the Washington DC area and had flown into town to attend the Breakfast Stout Breakfast that morning at Founders.

This is a concrete example of how beer is helping stoke the economy of West Michigan. People from out of town and out of state are traveling here with the express purpose of drinking locally produced beer and in the process are spending money on ancillary things such as hotel rooms, rental cars and meals in other restaurants. Siciliano's also benefits from these beer related pilgrimages. Whenever Founders has a party at their taproom we get a good number of out-of-towners stopping by the store to load up on beer they can’t get back home. And it’s not just the special brewery events that are drawing beer-loving travelers to West Michigan. The Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival has exploded in recent years and many travelers who pass through the area do so while on statewide beer bar and brewery tours.

The money being spent on these beer pilgrimages benefits the state as well as local communities. More beer sold in brewery taprooms means more excise tax dollars ending up in the state coffers. More beer sold in bottle shops like Siciliano’s means more dollars generated by state sales tax, and when local businesses prosper the effects are felt in other areas of the community. Over the past few years we here at Siciliano’s have reinvested a good deal of our beer-generated profits into our brick-and-mortar building which has meant more work for local contractors. And that's just one example.

There are a lot of good things happening in Grand Rapids. We are being recognized for our medical facilities, for having a rejuvenated downtown and for popular outdoor festivals and events such as Art Prize. The opening of even more breweries in the near future can only further enhance our reputation as being a destination for good beer.

Note: Buzz editors are aware of at least seven area breweries looking to open sometime in the coming months or next year. In no particular order, they are: White Flame Brewing, Grand Rapids Brewing, Harmony Brewing, Elk Brewing, Perrin Brewing, Rockford Brewing, and Pike 51 Brewing Company. Did we miss any? Let us know.

1 comment:

  1. You should have an online map locating all of the breweries ... that would be handy!