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A Little Help From Our Friends

It’s all about collaborations now. Everyone’s doing them. We are replete with such partnerships in Beer City. Collaborations are particularly prevalent within the craft beer community. It’s not surprising to see breweries teaming up with mustard companies, ice creameries or barbecue sauce purveyors. Serene Body Essentials made Peanut Butter Porter soap and we will soon have dog biscuits. I’ve even seen brewers align with wineries! Beer and everything! Collaborations is such an oft used term, that I thought I’d look up the definition to see if it’s being misused (like symbiosis so often is). Webster’s: 1. to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor. 2. To cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one's country and especially an occupying force. Well, I hope the latter is never employed. I’m sure brewery espionage exists at a multinational corporate level - think Miller-Coors or AB InBev. Bet some of the people in those “collaborations” didn’t feel so collaborative about it. The former sounds good, however. I want to be an intellectual head brewer from now on. That’s IHB to you .

Brewers have always shared experiences with each other and are happy in doing so. We like to work together. It’s always been done this way. This is most apparent with brewer to brewer collaborations. Some of the big micros (I love oxymoronic terms) are making beer together at a national level. I have had the honor of doing several with my beer buddies and they we always fun and rewarding. I think it stems from our home brewer roots. In my opinion, we cannot survive as an industry if we do not work together. When it comes down to real difference making collaborations, I am forced to look beyond the ABC Brewery - 123 Brewery collaboration(and they made this really cool stuff). Of course I’m buying some, it’s going to rock! But what were the results other than the formulation of a great beer? Of course great beer is paramount, but collaborations can be so much more.

There are three collaborations that really stand out in my career where we did make, and will continue to make, a real difference: Tree Beer, Fermenta and Hop Stock. Please allow me to explain. Tree Beer. When Grand Rapids first became beer city, the celebratory atmosphere was phenomenal. Everything about beer in GR was in the forefront, from the mayor to the evening news. The media attention was so frenzied that it became surreal and, frankly, a little silly. However, it all resulted with Tree Beer. Nearly every brewery in the Beer City arena made a tree themed beer. The brewery owners donated all proceeds from the beer sales to Grand Rapids Friends of the Parks, who in turn bought trees. The brewers then planted the trees at Riverside Park, creating the Brewer’s Grove. This collaboration resulted in national attention. I frequently ride through the Brewer’s Grove. The trees are doing well.

That brings us to Fermenta. Fermenta is a non-profit organization initiated by Michigan women, committed to diversity, camaraderie, networking, and education within the craft beverage industry. To me, they are all that and more. I have been fortunate to make a living in the industry I love. That being said, it sadly lacks diversity. By definition, diversity adds to the craft, the richness of the culture and the possibility of things not yet created. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that. B.O.B.’s Brewery will be doing our second collaboration with Fermenta on July 17th. You’re are all invited to join us! We will be making a tree beer.

And for number three? We hoping for a collaboration between the tree people and Ferment. We are tentatively calling it Hop Stock. It is our intention to develop a craft beer and music festival celebrating diversity in the Brewer’s Grove. Beer City Brewers and Fermenta are planning this event for the fall and they need our support. The details remain unfinished, but the collaboration has begun!

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B.O.B.'s Brewery
B.O.B.'s Brewery


20 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Sun - Wed: Closed
Thu: 4:00pm - 10:00pm
Fri: 5:00pm - 12:00am
Sat: 5:00pm - 12:00am