This weekend, Grand Rapids gets a taste of the talent normally constrained within their garages.
Throughout the last week, breweries have been tapping their collaborations with homebrewers as part of the second annual Beer City Pro-Am, hosted by the Beer City Brewer’s Guild.
“To us specifically, it’s a good opportunity to be rewarded for doing well,” said Nick Rodammer, co-founder of the event, Pro-Am committee chair and long-time homebrewer. “In general, it’s a good way to connect brewers and homebrewers. A lot of us know each other, so it seemed like a natural fit.”
Twenty-five breweries in Kent County — and neighboring townships — partnered with some of the area’s best homebrewers, who qualified by performing well in the competitions put on by the area’s two big homebrew supply shops, Siciliano’s Market and O’Connor’s Homebrew Supply. Homebrewers also qualified through participation in a competition put on by the area’s three homebrew clubs: Brewsquitos Homebrewing Club, PrimeTime Brewers and Rivertown Homebrewers.
The partnerships were literally selected out of hats, Rodammer said.
Rodammer partnered with Atwater Brewing, 201 Michigan St. NW, this year for his beer, Callista, a dry-hopped Imperial Pilsner.
For Rodammer, he was surprised when he showed up and was offered the opportunity to pretty much brew what he wanted. While that’s not the case at every one of the breweries, Rodammer said he’s pleasantly surprised with how open and excited the professional brewers are to work with the homebrewers.
He’s also excited about how many of the beers have challenged the normal beer menus of breweries in Grand Rapids. Among the beers brewed include a variety of lagers, several sours, and a variety aged in barrels or on oak chips.
“The breweries are giving a lot of freedom this year and we’re not really being limited,” he said. “It’s a true collaboration in every sense of the word. We want to do a little something different, having brewers think outside the box a little bit.”
Eighteen of the Pro-Am beer will be on tap at Logan’s Alley this weekend.
Rodammer said one of the main goals of the Pro-Am is to show the general public the strength of Beer City’s beer goes well beyond the walls of the neighborhood breweries.
“We want to show there is a strong homebrew community, get new people involved and pique their curiosity a little bit,” he said. “Getting 25 breweries together and cooperating with homebrewers, it’s crazy we could pull it off. I don’t think this could work in a lot of towns.”
A full list of the beers can be found on the Guild’s website.