While the craft beer scene in Grand Rapids has exploded over the last two decades, two “Beer City” brothers noticed there was one community getting left behind in the beverage industry’s social shuffle — the sober and sober curious.
Seeing this discrepancy, Chad and Paul Clark asked themselves, why can’t there be more fun and creative nonalcoholic beverages, and if anyone is to start a more all-inclusive destination for the community, why not two brothers who have extensive experience in the food and beverage industry?
Soon after, the brothers partnered with Downtown Market’s Incubator Kitchen — and Alt City Beverage Company was officially born. It has since graduated from the incubator kitchen into a retail location within the Downtown Market’s Market Hall, 435 Ionia Ave. SW.
“A lot the social aspect of drinking is really just about having a fun drink in your hand,” Chad Clark said. “We want the community, and particularly the sober and sober curious, to know that there are exciting alternatives to be enjoyed in Beer City. That is one of the reasons you will see such a variety of drinks on our menu that taste complex, yet approachable and inclusive at the same time.”
“We want the community, and particularly the sober and sober curious, to know that there are exciting alternatives to be enjoyed in Beer City.”
But Alt City Beverage Company does not only offer zero-proof cocktails. From smoothies and juices to teas, espressos and coffees, Chad and Paul Clark always are in the kitchen, concocting the next great flavor. “Initially, the ideas come as some form of a shower thought, such as, ‘What would espresso and raisins taste like together?’ This was an actual thought I obsessed over for a few weeks,” Chad Clark said.
After the ideation phase comes the trial-and-error process. The brothers consider what is the seasonality of the products, what their customers might be craving this time of the year, and whether this specific drink is something they would personally consume.
As for Chad’s espresso/raisin pick-me-up, it did not make it to the menu this go-around, but he said it is something he plans to revisit.
Though being a pandemic-born business was not always easy, sharing the experience with one another as brothers was invaluable. “Knowing your business partner is someone who you can trust and has your back 100% throughout is a great feeling,” Chad Clark said. “But it always astounds me that although you can know someone for your whole life, there are still bits and pieces of their personality to be discovered. I recently learned that Paul refuses to eat whole grapes…feel free to ask him about it.”
This story can be found in the July/August 2021 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here.