11 “Beer City USA” Breweries Collaborate on The Grand Pumpkin, Hitting Taps in Grand Rapids

Written by Garret Ellison for mlive.com

Harmony brewer Jackson VanDyke shows the Grand Pumpkin Saturday, October 20, 2012 at Harmony Brewing in Grand Rapids. Sally Finneran | MLive
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — It’s that time of year, when the color starts changing in the leaves and the beer.

In an effort to keep the mojo going from this year’s shared Beer City USA title, the brewers of greater Grand Rapids have cooked up a second collaboration beer that’s hitting tap handles around the area Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Eleven breweries this fall will serve their take on The Grand Pumpkin, a follow-up to this summer’s Beer City Pale Ale project, when 10 local breweries each made their version of a shared recipe ale as homage to Grand Rapids’ ‘Beer City’ title.

This time around, the rules were looser, allowing each brewer to be creative integrating pumpkin into the beer recipe, said Wob Wanhatalo, head brewer at the new Mitten Brewing Co. opening Oct. 25.

“It’s kind of everyone looking at one ingredient like you would with an ‘Iron Chef’ competition,” said Wanhatalo, who, until this month was brewing at The Hideout Brewing Co.

“What can I do with the beer that best represents that ingredient, but also trying to be different from everyone else?” he said.

The idea came from a Grand Rapids Society of Brewers meeting in August, where the group brainstormed ways to keep the energy in Grand Rapids beer heading into the next round of Beer City USA voting. Grand Rapids and Asheville, N.C. shared the 2012 title after voters in a nonscientific online poll started by homebrew pioneer Charlie Papazian bestowed the crown on the two cities in the spring.
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