Beer City USA: Can Grand Rapids Make It Four Years In A Row?

Beer City USA: Can Grand Rapids Make It Four Years In A Row?

Founders Beer Lineup 2017

Each February USA Today’s 10Best ask readers to vote for the best beer and brewery related locations in the country, and for the last three years Grand Rapids has taken home the top prize for Best Beer City. With this year’s finalists announced in nine categories, we once again see Michigan well represented and ready to take on all challengers. Can Grand Rapids make it four years in a row as Beer City USA? We will look at the case for the streak to stay alive today while also exploring our state’s nominees for Best Small Town Beer Scene, Best Beer Label, Best New Brewery, and Best Beer Garden.


Grand Rapids is on a three year run of domination in the Best Beer city polling, having also previously won the title in 2012 and 2013 (as well as Best Beer Town in 2014 and Best Beer Scene in 2017). The case for it is simple: we don’t just have lots of breweries, we have lots of GREAT breweries! “Michigan’s second-largest city sports the state’s strongest beer scene, thanks largely to the presence of the world-renowned Founders Brewing Co. Not to be outdone, there are several other brewing operations around town, most notably the Belgian-inspired Brewery Vivant. The city’s official “Beer City Ale Trail” lists more than 80 breweries in the surrounding area, and the local calendar is constantly filled with beer festivals, events, and promotions. Throw in exceptional beer stores such as Siciliano’s Market, and it’s easy to see why Grand Rapids proudly stakes its claim as “Beer City USA.” You can vote to help Grand Rapids keep its title once per day now through February 26th. Other cities in the running include Asheville (N.C.), Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and Portland (Maine).

new holland knickerbocker beer passport grand rapids

While we aren’t as active in the local beer scene as before, we definitely recommend the following Grand Rapids area breweries: Brewery Vivant, Railtown Brewing Company, City Built Brewing Company, Founders Brewing Co., New Union Brewery, Arvon Brewing Co., Rockford Brewing Company, The Mitten Brewing Company, and Speciation Artisan Ales. You can even download the Beer City Brewsader app and check in at local breweries to earn prizes as you drink! As of this writing, Grand Rapids is in third place with some ground to gain yet for the four-peat.

City Built Brewing Best Brewpub Michigan Beer and Breweries

Speaking of Grand Rapids breweries, City Built Brewing Company once again finds itself in the running for Best Beer Label. They won the award in 2021 for Prague Underground, and this year it’s their Mi Gente west coast IPA that has a chance to bring home another win. Founders Brewing Co. is also nominated for their French Toast Bastard label. You can vote for one of these beers each day; as of this writing they were both in the top ten.

Hop Lot Brewing Suttons Bay Leelanau Exchange Stout

We’re not done with Michigan nominees, but now we head north to the Traverse City area. Hop Lot Brewing Co in Suttons Bay is nominated for Best Beer Garden. In less than a decade this has become a favorite brewery in the state, and visitors come back every summer. “Embracing its Northern Michigan roots, Hop Lot Brewing’s beer garden invites guests to warm up around the campfire or relax at picnic tables while enjoying their brews. In winter, you can even reserve your own igloo! Hop Lot was established in 2015 as a family-friendly brewery and offers a tap list of around a dozen traditional ales.”

Right Brain Brewery Traverse City Ale Trail

Traverse City is once again a finalist for Best Small Town Beer Scene. Home to more than a dozen breweries, it also has its own passport program (the TC Ale Trail). “Traverse City has become a hotbed of craft beer action in the already beer-centric state of Michigan. The town features a sizable collection of breweries, taprooms, and brewpubs, including Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak Brewing Company, Brewery Terra Firma, Earthen Ales, and Right Brain Brewery.” Vote for Traverse City once per day now through the 26th, as of this writing they were in first place!

Rare Bird Brewpub Traverse City Ale Trail

Finally, we have a Michigan nominee in the Best new Brewery contest. Seedz Brewery in Union Pier has already garnered enough attention to stand out: “Midwest breweries tend to get overshadowed by all the hop-centric Pacific Northwest pubs or either of the coasts when it comes to craft bars, but Seedz, a small-batch brewery in Union Pier is making its mark and bringing visitors to this sleepy town of just 600 inhabitants. They locally source all their hops and malt, and they specialize in slow pours, taking 5-7 minutes to pour the perfect pint. Czech- and German-styled lagers are at the forefront here.” You can vote for Seedz Brewery once per day, they are currently in 2nd place trailing only Project 9 Brewing Company in Seattle.