In part a celebration of Grand Rapids being voted Beer City USA and also to honor the rich brewing history of Grand Rapids Michigan, the Van Andel Museum is running the exhibit “Thank You Beer.” This exhibit is running from October 13th to December 30th. Thanks to the generosity of High Five Co-op Brewery, I was able to get in for the members only showing on the 13th.
The exhibit though not huge was still an interesting tour through a bit of Michigan brewing history. For me a couple of the high-lights came from the brewiana collections of Steve DeBoode and Kevin Foley. Their collections of bottles and cans show our history through eating and drinking vessels. Kinda makes you wonder what strange beverages the Dogfish Head of the future will make from the residues found in our drinking vessels.
Much like other cities in the US there was a surge of breweries in the late 1870s. Many of them were lager breweries. This was also true of Grand Rapids. It was in 1893 that many of the Grand Rapids breweries consolodated under the banner the Grand Rapids Brewing Co. Prohibition claimed these in 1918. Another early adopter much like Kalamazoo, MI. It is interesting to note that with the cities in Michigan taking early adoption of Prohibition, Michigan was the first to repeal prohibition.
The museum will offer special events through the run of the exhibit including tastings, a pairing dinner, classes, and competition. This really is a great time to learn a bit more about the history of Michigan’s brewing traditions.