Day 6: Mitten Brewing

When you’ve lived in one place for a while, it’s easy to fall into a routine of go-to places. If I’m feeling like ordering Chinese for dinner, I have one specific place I order from because I know that I like it and it’s close to me. I hear there are a lot of good quality Chinese restaurants in the Grand Rapids area, and I might consider giving them a try someday, but after a long day when I don’t feel like cooking, I’m going to call on the old reliable.

As I mentioned in Day 4's entry, I have a favorite couple of breweries that I frequent. Every now and again, we’ll shake things up and go to Grand Rapids Brewing Company, or if we find ourselves near the lakeshore, we’ll stop in at Oddsides on our way home. But most of the time, Founders, Harmony, and Vivant are our mainstays.
But this 30 days of Grand Rapids is about discovering new treasures in my city, so last night I tried the Mitten Brewing Company for the first time.

Mitten opened in 2012—I can hardly believe it’s been here for three years and this is only the first time I’m trying it. It’s on the northwest side of the city, which is not a neighborhood I have much excuse to visit anymore since I live in the southeast. Mitten is housed in an old fire engine house from the late 1800s—one of 11 historic firehouses in Grand Rapids built at the turn of the century. The brewery owners have renovated it themselves, updating the utilities for 21st-century use, but leaving the historic characteristics of the building, such as exposing the original brick and leaving the outside façade alone.

While it’s technically a sports bar, in that the taproom is basically a shrine to Tigers baseball, it doesn’t feel like a sports bar. The memorabilia on the wall is elegant and simplistic. There are a good number of televisions that outline the restaurant but they aren’t distracting. Paying homage to the historic value of the building, they use vintage baseball posters and pennants to decorate the space and even offer original Tiger stadium seats to lounge in if you have to wait for a table.

And we did have to wait for a table on a Wednesday evening, which I figure means that there is plenty of community support for this brewery. We wandered up to the bar and I was impressed with the long tap list for what appeared to be a rather modest space. Friend, Husband, and I all got different beers and then passed them around to each other for tastings. After every sampling sip, we all “mmm”-ed in agreement.

Most breweries offer beer flights, where you can get five to six beer samplings, and while Mitten offered beer flights, it was the pizza flights that intrigued me. For a very decent price, you could choose up to six pizzas to “sample.” The menu said it was enough of feed four, and we had three in our party. We ordered the Deluxe, the Hawaiian, the Pesto Chicken, the Thai Cobb, the Chipotle Barbecue, and the special which was sausage and peppadew peppers. Each of us got eight squares of pizza to eat, and we were stuffed and happy by the time the board was empty.

It was also Trivia Night, something I’ve always wanted to experience. Since none of us at the table had ever participated in a trivia night, we decided to just sit back and listen to the questions rather than have the stress of actually competing. It added a level of entertainment to the evening. When we weren’t immersed in our own conversation, we could watch the Tigers game, bop along to the music, or brainstorm answers to trivia questions. It was a great place to just hang out and have fun.

There are already a lot of breweries in GR, making it difficult for one to stand out over the others. I clearly have my favorites. Yet Mitten does stand out in the crowd as its own unique establishment. I think it’s safe to say that Mitten Brewing will be added to my list of mainstays from here on out.

For more information about Mitten Brewing, visit their website