The Rapidian

Grand Rapids Brewing Company to open its organic doors December 5

Named after a pre-Prohibition brewery in Grand Rapids, Mark Sellers' GRBC is set to open December 5 with organic beers and as strong of an attention to food as the microbrews.
Underwriting support from:

Chef Adam Watt's Beer Basted Thanksgiving Turkey


Half stick of butter, at room temperature

1 each large natural turkey, insides removed, trussed with butchers twine

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 large onions, sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

5 large carrots, sliced

5 each celery ribs, sliced

3 each apples, medium wedges

1 bunch fresh sage leaves


1/3-1/2 C all purpose flour

200 ml of your favorite beer or cider

500 ml turkey or chicken stock

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

While prepping your turkey, pull away your turkey's skin from the breast meat. Rub butter in all crevices. Place apples and sage in the cavity of the bird. Tie wings back with butchers twine, ending with tying the drumsticks (legs) together. Season the outside of the turkey with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Place in a roasting pan lined with all remaining ingredients. Roast breast-side up until skin reaches a dark golden brown. Baste with beer as you go. Reduce heat to 325 and cover your turkey with foil. Continue to cook until your internal cooking temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Remove from oven and cover entire bird with foil. Place your bird over a platter to rest for one hour.

Meanwhile, add flour to your roasting pan and vegetables. Continue to cook until light brown color forms. Deglaze with your favorite cider or seasonal brew and stock. Add any liver or kidneys at this point to gain more flavor! Strain into a smaller pot to slowly simmer and thicken your gravy. Skim off any excess fat. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

Serve turkey with the lovely fermented beverage of your liking (hopefully the one you cooked the bird with!)



Happy Thanksgiving! 

-Chef Adam

/courtesy of Chris Knape

"You know, back in the early 1900's before GRBC was forced out of business by Prohibition, all restaurants and all breweries were 'organic.' They didn't have to say it, they just all were because farmers didn't use chemicals back then," says Mark Sellers, owner of Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC), which is set to open December 5 at 3 p.m. "So even the fact that we're Michigan's only organic brewery is a nod to history."

Sellers says the restaurant is bringing nothing along from the more recent restaurant with the same name that was on 28th Street until a few years ago.

"What we have tried to do, to the extent possible, is to create a hybrid between the original Grand Rapids Brewing Company that went out of business in 1918, and a modern restaurant. We have a lot of vintage items built into our interior design, but yet it feels modern when you're in the room," he says.

Microbreweries have been growing in numbers over the years in Grand Rapids, along with many that have opened just this year. With the moniker of "Beer City USA" given to Grand Rapids this year, the trend continues to grow. Sellers says there are several things that set his microbrew apart from others in the area.

"First of all, the name. We are the Grand Rapids Brewing Company, not just a brewing company within Grand Rapids. We're the eponymous brewery of this fair city. Second, we'll be Michigan's first certified organic brewery. Third, our food menu will be as well-thought out, and taken as seriously, as our beer menu. We hired a talented chef and are really planning to 'wow' people with our food," explains Sellers. "Fourth, we have a robust 'green' program- we recycle and compost everything we can, donate our spent brewing grain to local farmers, buy as many local products as possible and make our beer with ingredients that don't use pesticides or chemicals. We take our responsibility as a good citizen of Planet Earth very seriously."

The food menu was created by Adam Watts, who has most recently worked about both Rustica in Kalamazoo and Jax Fish House in Boulder, Colorado. Watts has cooked and studied around the country and the world.

"After graduating from GRCC I wanted to travel abroad. I set out with the intention to take in as much as I could do and see. I externed at Tapawingo restaurant in northern Michigan for a summer, a stint at the Prestonfield Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland , traveled and feasted through Spain, France, and Italy then headed back to the states. I went west to work at Chatueax Du Sureau in central California," says Watts. "Then [we] tried to get closer to home [but] my wife and I stopped in Boulder, Colorado and really liked it so we moved. Boulder has a great farmer/chef community and I worked at The Kitchen Cafe which was very focused on community and sustainability."

Now back to the Grand Rapids community, Watts says it was Sellers' commitment to his staff that really appealed to him.

"The organic beer paired with 'locavore' style menu won me over," he adds. 

"Our menu will reflect the craft side of our beer. We will operate a completely from scratch kitchen where technique and passion for local producers reign supreme," says Watts. "One menu item we are excited about [are the] five to six varieties of fresh hand cranked sausages. They will range from styles such as a classic beer bratwurst and smoked polish style to wild boar and spicy chorizo. Some dishes will be throw backs to the 'hey day era' of the original GRBC and of course, always prepared with beer in mind."

Beers on the menu will also be a nod to the city's history.

"The beers will all be named after famous Grand Rapidians. That's as much as we can tell you right now," says Sellers. He says they'll be "Historic [people], but we plan to release special beers periodically that are named after current famous people."

Sellers, who also owns Stella's, McFaddens and HopCat, says creating GRBC has been his largest project to date.

"I do see this adding a new dimension to downtown - a brewery and gastropub combined in one space," he says. "It'll be a place almost everyone can feel comfortable - old, young, beer drinkers, and those who are more into food. We'll also serve wine and cocktails. I think there's something for everyone here."



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