In addition to entertaining ears with live music, Cellar Brewing Company's dedicated staff fills glasses with libations fresh from its microbrewery, winery, and artisan distillery. The restaurant's plush, leather sofas sit beneath its rust-hued ceiling, and at a blond-wood bar, bartenders serve house brews and signature cocktails, mixed with their top-shelf liquors. A glass of stout awakens taste buds craving a darker brew, and the cellar's servers pluck bottles of Michigan Apple Delight wine directly from in-house wine trees.
January 30, 2013 was a big milestone for the team at Cranker's Restaurant & Brewery. The date marked the release of their first-ever bourbon-barrel-aged beer, appropriately titled the Barrel #1 Bourbon Porter. But Cranker's taps were no strangers to innovative beer or the high-pitched squeals of happy pint glasses. The brewery had already racked up awards at the World Expo of Beer for their Professor IPA, Crankenstein Amber Lager, 5th Voyage Coconut Porter, and Honey Kolsch.
That last brew, the Honey Kolsch, is the beer of choice when ordering a basket of Cranker's fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce. Indeed, the bartenders and servers are always happy to make beer-pairing suggestions for their homey entrees. For Detroit-style coney dogs, for instance, they recommend their Bulldog Red Irish Ale. Or if diners show up early, they pour Oakenshield Stout to go with eggs, sausage, and other breakfast staples. They also have the perfect substitute should diners want a less potent beverage: a cool glass of homemade root beer, either served by itself or as a float.
If the weight loss of the company's owner and a trainer?75 pounds and 100 pounds, respectively?is any indication, Grand Rapids Boot Camp and Fitness means business. The outdoor classes are tailored for all fitness levels, so beginners and seasoned athletes will both feel the burn as the perform weight exercises, resistance workouts, and functional movements.
Once each new batch of beer has passed through Hideout Brewing Company's 280-gallon system, brewers transfer it from fermentation drums into kegs one by one. The hands-on process takes time, but brewmasters still manage to keep The Hideout's 32 taps filled. Drafts like the Smuggler's Hazelnut Stout and the Gangster IPA are available year-round, thought most of the bar's selection rotates among specialty and seasonal beers, as well as occasional hard ciders and meads. The brewers are often playful with different styles of beer, steeping chocolate and jalape?os or using wild yeasts that build a complex maze of flavors.
Along with food from outside vendors, Hideout's pours pair well with a modest menu of bar snacks such as mini tacos, corn dogs, and soft pretzels. Drinking and dining commences on the main floor, where Prohibition-era photographs surround weekly rounds of board games and chess. Karoake wednesdays feature locals on vocals while Saturdays bill live bands for entertainment. Competitive shouts can always be heard drifting from dartboards, and there?s also a horseshoe pit in Hideout's backyard garden, where steeds respectfully leave their hoofwear before coming inside for a drink.
"What beer should I try next?" Visitors to The Great Brew Ha Ha often find themselves faced with this challenging yet pleasant dilemma. That's because vendors blanket the festival floor, ready to pour more than 100 different craft beers and one keg that contains the secret to great hair?all it takes is an exchange of the sample tickets included with admission. Taps fill glasses high with brews from the likes of Angry Orchard, New Holland, and other Michigan and National Microbrews.
The festival complements these beers with a bit of spectacle. A constant lineup of comedians?including frequent television performers such as Al Jackson?tell their best set-ups and punch lines.
Wine-A-Palooza combines international wines with musical performance during a five-hour evening celebration. Attendees sample a selection of wines from around the world, testing their palate as they suss out the differences in each red and white. While sipping wines, they can also nibble on a variety of international dishes from the buffet. Live music fills the space with rhythms and harmonies, giving attendees a soundtrack to their wine tasting and purchasing experience.