The Rapidian

Local beer expert Ben Darcie celebrates Michigan beer community

Grand Rapids beer enthusiast, reviewer, and representative talks about his experience within the local beer culture.
Underwriting support from:

/Brittany Beezhold

“Grand Rapids –it’s the hub of the entire state’s beer. It's like you don’t come here for Grand Rapids beer, you come here for Michigan beer as a whole,” says Ben Darcie, brewer, Revue Beer Editor, JY Distribution Representative and beer enthusiast.

“We’re very heavy interstate. We help each other a lot. All the breweries here aren’t worried about competing with each other. They’re more concerned with helping each other just to stay in this awesome culture,” says Darcie.

In the spring of 2012, both Ashville and Grand Rapids were awarded the title of Beer City USA. Instead of a rivalry, the two cities shared their love of beer. Along with head brewers and owners, Darcie took Ashville Beer Ambassador Adam Reinke on a two day, 11 brewery tour.

“One of my goals for [the tour] was not only to introduce him to Grand Rapids and outline beer, but to show him the hands and faces behind it. The beer is one thing but the people are what make it,” says Darcie.

Darcie is a self-proclaimed late bloomer to the beer scene.

“I started drinking beer in college but it was fizzy yellow beer. I [thought], this isn’t good. Why do people drink this?” says Darcie.

Later, Darcie tried Samuel Adam’s Octoberfest.

“This is what beer could be? I was floored. I fell in love with beer,” says Darcie.

He began experimenting with brewing his own beer, reading about beer and tasting beer. As a film major and creative writing minor, Darcie added beer to his repertoire of interests. In 2011, Revue announced it was losing its beer editor. 

“I was fortunate enough to get the job and I’ve been doing that for two years this July. I was visiting breweries every month, meeting owners [and] meeting brewers –just head first into this industry. And I just loved it and fed on it,” says Darcie.

Working at Electric Cheetah at the time, he was eager to become more involved and invested in the beer scene. Darcie's networks that he had built with Revue led him to an open position at JY's Distribution. 

“I can sell a beer to someone who hasn’t drank in 20 years,” he says. “It turns out that all these breweries that JY’s reps, I had been involved with through Revue. I already knew the brewers. I already knew the owners. I already knew the beer.”

Through his love of beer and appreciation of the beer community, Darcie began teaching classes in Spring 2011.

“When I designed the course, [it] was 10 weeks. You spend the first week focusing on beer ingredients, the second week on process [and] then every week after on tasting a specific style of beer,” says Darcie.

He says his classes enable participants to study every major world beer style while learning their history, how they’re made and what sets them apart from other beer styles.

“The proof is in the glass. Every glass, every swig you take is different from the one before," he says. "Beer is an experience.”

While beer language and terms are important to understand, Darcie emphasizes the unique qualities each individual brings of beer tasting.

“When it comes to beer tasting, you can’t be wrong. Every palette is different,” he says.

Darcie continues to visit the local breweries, teach classes and write about beer. He credits the hands and faces behind each glass who make the Grand Rapids beer community a remarkable place.

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