Grand Rapids might go by Beer City now, but the brewing industry’s roots are much deeper than the 21st century.
I wrote book about the city’s beer history, aptly titled “Grand Rapids Beer.” Sure, it’s a little dated now (it came out in 2015), but it covers the pre-Prohibition portion and the start of the current wave pretty well, if I must say so myself.
The best part is the history of a man by the name of Christoph Küsterer. An industrious fellow who was one of most powerful men in the city in the late 1800s and also a key figure in the brewing industry.
His name has resurfaced in recent years, thanks to a line of traditional German beers by Cedar Springs Brewing Co. Now, we’re nearing the opening of Cedar Springs Brewing’s downtown Grand Rapids taproom, Küsterer Brauhaus, at 642 Bridge St. NW.
I checked in with Cedar Springs Brewing owner David Ringler to see what’s up with the location.
GRM: When are you hoping to have Küsterer Brauhaus open?
Ringler: Last August (laugh) … It’s hard to say publicly. You don’t know until you know, but soon.
GRM: Why open an outpost downtown?
Ringler: To be frank, that’s the area I looked at before the property in Cedar Springs. It’s the historic German area. There were some German beer halls prior to Prohibition. It’s right down the street from the original Küsterer brewery.
So eight years ago, I figured that would be a growing area, I could see the development was going to come. The trick now is to get people to come past Seward. But with The Sovengard moving up the street as well, it will start stretching out as well.
But this is really an attempt to recapture that classic German beer hall from long ago. I’ve always been attracted to the West Side for that history, but it’s even more interesting now.
GRM: What will the vibe be like in Küsterer Brauhaus?
Ringler: It will be a little different than the Cedar Springs location, more of a classic beer hall, not a restaurant. It’s a German beer hall with a little deli in it, meant to foster conversation. Beer halls, public houses, those were the social media of their day. That’s where people exchanged news and discussed politics and kept up with the latest. That’s part of the culture I fell in love with in my time living in Bavaria. You go, get a snack tray of a salad or meats and cheeses, sit there, nibble on this or that, and sip on a beer and talk. No one is looking at their phones or watching the scroll on ESPN or CNN they’ve seen a million times.
GRM: What should people be on the lookout for there, or at the Cedar Springs location?
Ringler: We’ll be launching our mug club, Stammtisch Club, pretty quickly. They can get into that. That’s good at both locations.
We will have a dedicated beer down there, and with the smaller system, it gives us an opportunity to do a little more collaboration with our beer community friends and dabble in some of the more extreme historical styles — bring a little more Beer City flavor and a twist on our German styles.
We just launched our 1872 Urweisse. 1872 was the year the Bavarian King Ludwig II opened up the rights to brew Weiss beer.
Also it’s starkbier, strong beer, time. We just released a couple bock beers, a doppelbock and a pale weizenbock. March 26 is our Starkbierfest, an outdoor beer fest with music and sausage party.
Weird big beverage promo
Natural Light released some vintage throwback cans dating to its original launch in 1977. As a sucker for heritage beer branding, I’m a big fan of the cans.
The promo to launch, however, is a tad strange. Apparently mullets are making a comeback, according to a release from Natty Light, there were 15.5 million searches for mullets in 2021 — the most-searched hairstyle of the year.
So, the brand is paying for people to get mullets and will send a “monthly supply” of Natural Light for as long as that person can keep the mullet flowing.
Fun sparkling rose cocktail
Mumm Napa sent over this delicious looking spring recipe, so pick up a sparkling rosé and try it out.
2.5 parts sparkling rosé
1.5 parts pink gin
1.5 parts pink grapefruit juice
1 part raspberry rose water syrup
1.5 part raspberry seltzer
Method: Combine pink gin and grapefruit juice in mixing glass with ice, and stir. Add pre-chilled raspberry seltzer.
Pour into glass containing raspberry rose water (recipe below). Top off with the sparkling rosé. Throw in a grapefruit slice and raspberries.
Raspberry rose water syrup
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 ounces rose water
Combine all ingredients in sauce pan. Stir to dissolve sugar over medium heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. While straining, press raspberries for juices. Cool and refrigerate (keeps about two weeks).