I spent the break up in Michigan, with my wife’s family in Grand Rapids like we do every year. But this year the city felt completely different. So many new things are opening, major new projects underway in beer and otherwise. We visited Sovengaard, Rick Muschiana’s new nordic-inspired restaurant and beer garden. Rick used to work at Brewery Vivant, one of our favorites. And he took what he learned there in terms of sustainability and hospitably and applied it to a new concept that really brightens up the Grand Rapids scene for me. He's got an amazing beer list—one of the most adventurous in the city by far. But also great wines, and a unique menus far away form the pub food that GR so often does. This spring the beer garden portion will open up, and I can’t wait to see it.
Across the street from Sovengaard is one of GR’s most ambitious projects, the New Holland brewpub. It towers over the neighborhood, a complex with the brewpub on the ground floors, a set of private event rooms and a cocktail bar on the second, and above that new condo residences. Compared to their original brewpub back in Holland, Michigan, the contrast is stark.
It’s a long way from home, maybe not geographically, but spiritually, from how I perceived the New Holland brand so many years ago on my first visit when Mad Hatter was a stand-out hoppy beer for the region, and Dragon’s Milk was something I could barely wrap my head around. As you’ll hear in this series of interviews, that’s going to change forever—maybe for the entire country.
To paint a full picture of the evolution of New Holland, I decided to talk to a few people in the organization. So this is going to be a unique one. We’re going to hear from the new Grand Rapids brewpub brewer, the VP of marketing, the executive chef who overseas both locations, and the national sales manager who is taking on the challenge of taking New Holland, well, national.