The weekend plans were an anniversary surprise, and I was glad to see that we ended up in Grand Rapids instead of a Jerry Springer taping session. I vowed to myself that if ever I heard the words "Hey, let's go see Jerry Springer", I would instantly file for divorce - nothing good seems to come from that show, or did when I watched it twenty years ago. Is it still on? Maybe I should have checked that before I wrote this. Oh well.
We pulled in to the Courtyard by Marriott on Monroe and Fulton, a pleasant hotel where we have stayed before. Like the past stays, it was quiet, interrupted only by a knock at the door from someone at the wrong room. I didn't mind, and hopefully she didn't mind that I didn't stop brushing my teeth to chat with her. But the room looked over the B.O.B. and the new theater right next door. One of the things I like about GR is it's constant change - there seem to be new building going up all the time.
We didn't linger long before my wife's second surprise of the day. We trudged through the snow to Founders. But the surprise was not Founders, it was the white van parked outside - the Grand Rapids Beer Tours van. I love Grand Rapids, and I love beer, so combine these things, and you have the makings of a great afternoon. We were the last ones to arrive - but we were still early - and we were off to our cerveza-soaked day.
Stop numero uno was The Mitten Brewery. Located in an old firehouse, complete with pole - unfortunately inaccessible from the second floor - which had quite a beer list. Brian, our guide, passed around pitchers with which to fill our sample glasses. The IPA, A League of Their Own, and a coffee stout were brought out way. I enjoyed the IPA the most, and since it was early in my drinking day, I had no witty sayings to write on the bathroom chalkboard.
Stop Nummer zwei was City Built Brewing, at the corner of Monroe and Mason a touch north of I196. When I worked in the Brass Works Building down the street during my super amusing marchFIRST days, this was a deli-style restaurant. While I enjoyed a good sandwich as much as the next guy, the brewery is my favorite incarnation of this location. Our stay at City Built was the longest of the three, and not only did we try four samples off the menu, we had time for a brewery tour and lunch. The Baracoa tacos where things of beauty.
Stop nombre trois was Creston Brewery on Plainfield Avenue. Once home to a furniture showroom, it also evolved into a higher form, a brewery. We were also given a choice of four brews from a fairly large menu, and Creston won the "Best Beer Flight Holder" award, using old LPs to do the job. I also loved the tons of natural light that flooded the room, a bright, happy place where I could do my drinking, and get tips about a future trip to Iceland from a couple that had lived there.