This week's guest was recently part of an Uppers & Downers dinner we did in Grand Rapids at the Sovengard. It was spectacular. But more recently, I’ve gotten to know Nathan Walser from his latest project, which is his own brewery, Greyline.
In a city like Grand Rapids, it’s easy to get carried away with thinking of it as Beer City, USA, and there’s good reason for that. There are a ton of breweries in this midwestern town. It’s partially defined by its breweries. And the national success of a place like Founders really sets the tone there.
But I’ll be honest: I tend to go to the same few places every time I visit. That is, until recently, when I went out of my way to the far-north side of the city to visit Greyline. I’d heard it was a bit small and some people thought the service was a bit severe (at least according to Yelp), and all that made me want to go. I figured, if that’s what the locals liked, who are more accustomed to gigantic restaurants and malty, hoppy beers from the '90s, then this was probably my kind of place.
And it was.
I was really taken with the beer. And as I started asking questions of the bartender, they started making nervous eye contact with the guy to my right.
“You work here?" I asked.
“Yeah," he said with his head down.
“You brew here?”
“Yeah,” he said again.
“You own the place, or what?”
“Yeah, I do,” he said, and finally started opening up.
That was all I needed to dive headlong into what made Greyline tick. Since then, I’ve had multiple run-ins with Nathan, talked about his beer to a level of detail rarely captured on the mics, and have been enamored ever since.
And to top it all off, Nathan’s career as a journeyman Michigan brewer weaves its way through everything that makes Grand Rapids Beer City, USA—a title it sometimes deserves, and sometimes falls short of. We’ll talk about why that is, too.