A one-year anniversary trip to Madison, Wisconsin in November 2020, and a 41st Birthday trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan during April 2021.
We decided to adopt a small life break in driving to Madison, Wisconsin. Not too far away yet far away enough to not be familiar.
I was able to do a curbside bottle pickup from Funk Factory. 750 milliliters of All Black Everything and tall boy pastry cans of Untitled Art madness.
We drove the vacant ghost city of the frigid weather pandemic downtown capital. Landing at a place called Settle Down Tavern, we were content to pull up chairs outdoors, next to a fire.
At that point in life, we were so intensely happy to be out and about, and actually dining away from the house. Raising twin infants during all of the shelter in place mostly kept us locked down regardless of whether or not there was a global virus threat. But the global virus threat didn’t help matters.
I’ve never been so thrilled to eat a burger and drink a can of beer in really cold ambient temperatures all the while putting a fucking mask on every time the waitress walked over.
Please…allow me to gush over the fact that I got to sample an odd slice of how life used to be, albeit with restriction through filtered aperture, and accompanied by drama over the fact that we even went out. Never in one million years would I think there would be drama for just visiting another city.
A Christmas Vortex, Found.
For my 41st birthday in April 2021 we were able to drop the babies off in Allegan and do a one day trip to Grand Rapids and back. On the way up to the in-laws cabin drop-off, we grabbed bottles from Transient and took the babies for a pizza lunch at Haymarket in Bridgman, Michigan.
I changed a poop diaper on the front lawn and we set up shop on the patio. The place just nails what you need in the midst of mayhem. Hot pepper pizza, a big soft pretzel with cheese, and American IPA.
Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids, Michigan
We started the journey with a hot chicken and waffles brunch at Brewery Vivant.
Flash forward to the end of a day of drinking where I had the idea to go back to Brewery Vivant because I’m obsessed with their tropical saison – a beer that binds and bonds friendships with a single clink of two magic pineapple glasses.
Alas it was too crowded. Through my drizzly rain haze I noticed a “v” had fallen off of the wall.
Exploring Speciation Ales was like being at the nucleus of Midwestern wild ale, connecting me to Funk Factory via portal of solitude. They had a collaboration, gin barrel aged beer they brewed with the fellas from Zao, one of my favorite bands of all time.
Not only is this really rare because, well, not many have heard of Zao, but also the odds of me being present for such a limited release felt staggering. On top of that it was the highlight beer I got to try that day.
Eastern Kille Distillery, a small scale spirit maker in Grand Rapids flowed cocktail dreams as an estuary toward suspended animation. That Jam took me on a high tide of bourbon mastery, house berry jam, orange liqueur, and lemon.
They distilled some open fermented wort from Speciation called Mitch’s Brew. I nabbed up a bottle to go.
Funk Factory Geuzeria
Settle Down Tavern
Transient Artisan Ales
River St. Joe