This Midwest Destination Is Considered America's Beer City

Calling all beer lovers! Craft breweries seem to be popping up left and right all over the United States, but there's one locale that has so many of them that it's been deemed Beer City, USA for over 10 years now. Thanks to both the quantity and quality of the beer being produced here, that magical brew-tastic place is Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grand Rapids is a mid-sized city with a population of a little under 200,000 people. There are over 40 breweries in this quirky Midwest area, and since that can feel like a lot to tackle even for the biggest beer aficionado, the tourism board has implemented a self-guided Beer City Ale Trail for its brew-saders. Grand Rapids also has certain accommodations offering "hotel beer packages," with options at either the Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown or CityFlatsHotel. Best of all, if you need to soak up the boozy beer with some god eats, Grand Rapids is one of the best up and coming dining destinations in the midwest.

A beer for everyone

A city having a lot of breweries is not enough to gain the title of Beer City USA, so what exactly is it that Grand Rapids does to gain such a reputation? Well, for starters, it's not just that the city has "a lot of breweries." Grand Rapids has one of the highest breweries per capita rates in the country.

Long gone are the days when brewmasters were solely white dudes who loved to sip beer. Instead, Grand Rapids' diversity shines through in its beer. Check out Black-owned brewery, Black Calder Brewing, which offers a Bougie Sweet Potato Stout at a 9.8% ABV, brewed with real sweet potatoes, African vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and brown sugar. Its Prince Hopkeen is not to be missed either, brewed with honey from the Ghana rainforest. Grand Rapids is also home to several women-owned breweries, including but not limited to Harmony Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, and Speciation Artisan Ales (more on those later).

If you want to take your love of beer to the next level, you can become a brewsader. Download the Beer City Brewsader Passport app, and go to any of the participating breweries, all which are listed on the app. Check in at breweries along the way, and once you have successfully checked into eight total, a survey will pop up on your screen. Answer the question prompted, and you will get a free t-shirt as foolproof evidence that you love beer. 

Grand Rapids is a brew above the rest

With over 40 breweries to choose from in Grand Rapids, it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. While there are no bad choices, some breweries stand out for their innovative beer. Harmony Brewing Company, for example, is well-known in the community for its impeccable pizzas almost as much as for its beer. Its Black Squirrel Smok'd Porter, which tastes like a "campfire in a glass," is a must-try for anyone looking for an innovative and truly smokey dark brew. The bright atmosphere inside is perfect for enjoying one of its pies as well.

One of the coolest brewery settings in Grand Rapids is Brewery Vivant, which is housed in an old funeral home and serves some of the city's top ales. Brewery Vivant has a strong commitment to sustainability and publishes an annual "Beer the Change" report. It also hosts a variety of events, from broad topics like Weird Beer Weekend to niche events like Interstellar Duck Nacho Day. For a brewery in a wide-open, artistic space, head to Speciation Artisan Ales. While it makes plenty of great beer, its selection of natural wines is also stellar if you need a break.

Where to stay and eat on your beer quest

Although Grand Rapids is known as Beer City, its food scene deserves a spot on your bucket list. The city's chefs and restaurateurs take pride in the cuisine they produce. To sample some of the best bites in the area, head to Grand Rapids Downtown Market. While there, make sure to visit Aperitivo, a woman-owned shop that offers cheese, meat, and wine from around the world. Be sure to try the local products as well, like a blueberry jam with ginger made by Cellar Door Artisan Preserves in Grand Rapids. If you're looking for a fancy meal, Reserve Wine & Food is the place to go. Its housemade pasta is perfectly chewy, and its staff is knowledgeable about its wide selection of wines.

If you need a place to stay, the historic and luxurious Amway Grand Plaza provides timeless classic beauty without breaking the bank. Its rooftop restaurant and bar, MDRD, serves tasty and photo-worthy tapas and cocktails. Aside from food, another must-visit attraction is the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. It has rotating exhibitions, such as a space dedicated to monarch butterflies in the spring and its "Chrysanthemums & More!" display in the fall.