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Beer City, USA
The online poll that put Grand Rapids on the map, sparked a massive flood of beer tourism, and how the city has flourished as a result.
The Grand Rapids beer scene began in the early 19th century as immigrants brought their European brewing traditions with them. We meet those who are protecting the relics of the past, and see how the city’s collaborative spirit began with the formation of Grand Rapids Brewing Company in 1893.
In 1997 Founders Brewing Company opened it doors and was the first of 80+ breweries that would open in the coming decades. A look into this beer boom and what made it stand out from other beer havens.
Rising Tides Raises all Ships
While competition is the name of the business game, it’s not so much in the Grand Rapids beer scene. How these area brewers are friends, not foes, and how the spirit of collaboration is elevating the culture in Beer City, USA.
Home Brewers Unite
The backbone of Beer City, USA is the passion of its home brewing community. A look into the clubs who are embracing the tradition and inspiring the next generation of beer makers: we will meet several who made the coveted leap from home brewers to brewmasters.
As with any craft, brewing is a tried and true artform. How brewmasters are elevating their craft to keep beer connoisseurs coming back.
Beer City Pro-Am
Homebrewers and breweries come together as teams are paired off in an annual competition to see who can create the best Grand Rapids brew.
Winter Beer Festival
The annual mecca for beer lovers in Michigan and beyond. A behind- the-scenes look at how Grand Rapids hosts this massive festival and why thousands of people come to brave the winter weather for an unprecedented variety of craft beers.
From craft beer titans like Dave Engbers & Mike Stevens of Founders Brewing Company to upcoming brewers like Mitch and Whitney Ermatinger of Speciation Artisan Ales, the quest to achieve the American Dream is an inspirational story.
Future of Grand Rapids Beer
A look at the school in Grand Rapids Community College that is training the next generation of beer entrepreneurs.
“The Beer Boom”
In our pilot episode we will take our audience on a journey to the first breweries started in West Michigan in the modern era, and the entrepreneurship struggles that Bell’s, Founders, and New Holland all faced on their way to becoming some of largest craft beer producers in the United States. We will jump backwards in time to the founding of our city’s brewing industry in the 1830’s, showing how this industry grew and thrived, and how six local craft breweries merged together to form the Grand Rapids Brewing Company in 1893 to compete with Anheuser-Busch. We will the return to the Beer Boom of the 2000’s and 2010’s for the explosion of local craft beer, but end on a cliffhanger of how Prohibition killed a historic industry overnight.
In this episode we will document how Prohibition and the Dark Ages of beer in Grand Rapids led to the garages and basements of the home brewing community, and how many of these artisans turned a hobby into a career by becoming head brewers at some of our best-known breweries. Plus we will look at local home brewing clubs like PrimeTime, Brewsquitos, and Rivertown that make our region vibrant for innovation and culture, the science and artistry behind craft brewing, the Grand Rapids Community College program that educates the next generation of young beer makers, and the Beer City Pro-Am festival where award-winning home brewers are paired with local breweries to produce a unique beer that is judged by a panel of experts. Who will win?
Our third episode is all about the collaborative spirit of beer in our community. This theme is truly what sets us apart from our competitors and the one thing that everyone agrees on: rising tides raises all ships in Grand Rapids. We don’t have the greatest number of breweries per capita, we don’t have the biggest number of barrels in distribution: what we do have is a universal culture of Midwesterners who are all helping each other succeed. We will show how breweries are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods, by giving back to our community through philanthropy and fundraising. Our historical segments will focus on the modern pandemic, and how breweries and city leaders banded together to weather the storm – the biggest threat to our brewing industry since Prohibition.
“Beer City, USA”
Our final episode will reveal the online poll that made Grand Rapids officially Beer City, USA, and everything that came after: the surge of beer tourism, the rebranding of our city, and what the future holds for the craft beer scene. Young students at the Grand Rapids Community College craft brewing program, innovative taprooms like Hopcat, and major festivals like the Winter Beer Fest at LMCU Ballpark. Our historical segments will touch on our previous moniker of Furniture City, how our city’s beer lovers navigated Prohibition and the Dark Ages, and we will look forward to how some of our largest breweries have merged with worldwide brands in order to compete in the most competitive distribution channels. Finally, how the future of craft beer looks a lot like the past: enjoying a beer with friends and family at your neighborhood craft brewery.
Goals of Beer City, USA
Documentary Television Series
- Capture the stories of Beer City, USA to highlight our local craft beer scene
- Preserve Grand Rapids beer history
- Promote tourism in West Michigan to a nationwide audience
- Re-energize our local consumers and foster pride in our beer community
- Showcase West Michigan as a great place to live, work and play
- Celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion by showcasing a variety of interwoven storylines and featured interviews
- Support workforce development by showing why breweries are a cool place to be employed
- Recruiting and retention of young professionals across all industries in our region
- Plant a flag in the ground that shows the world we are Beer City, USA