The Rapidian

Grand Rapids hosts first annual Pro-Am Brewing Competition

Twenty local breweries will collaborate with qualifying area homebrewers in a competition designed to promote creativity and strengthen ties in the craft beer community.
Homebrewers and local breweries will team up to compete for the Beer City Pro-Am Cup

Homebrewers and local breweries will team up to compete for the Beer City Pro-Am Cup /Beer City Brewers Guild

Beer City Pro-Am Cup details

- Each participating team's entry will be on tap in its respective brewery's taproom as of July 31st, 2017.


- The winner will be announced at BCBG Industry Picnic at 5 p.m. on August 12th, at Long Lake Park.


- Twelve homebrewed beers will be on tap, and the public is welcome to bring their own food and beverages to share.


- Homebrewers across Kent County are encouraged to participate in qualifying events throughout the coming year to be eligible for entry in next year's competition.

Twelve home brews will be on tap at the Industry Picnic on August 12th

Twelve home brews will be on tap at the Industry Picnic on August 12th /Beer City Brewers Guild

/Beer City Brewers Guild

This summer, Grand Rapids will live up to its well-deserved moniker once again, as the city plays host to the first annual Beer City Pro-Am Cup. Twenty area breweries have stepped up to compete, each paired with a locally-acclaimed homebrewer, in hopes of creating a beer that will bring home the coveted trophy - and bragging rights - awarded the champion brew.

Homebrewer Nick Rodammer first conceived of the idea after attending the Hopstock festival in late summer of 2016. Organized by the Beer City Brewers Guild (BCBG), the festival included a featured called “IPA Island,” which poured side-by-side brews from many local breweries, and was designed to offer attendees a chance to both sample from local favorites, and discover unknown or up-and-coming breweries’ offerings. The spirit of collaboration and coming together led Nick to think about other ways the brewing community could foster a spirit of cooperation.

“[IPA Island] gave me the thought that a homebrew collaboration feature would be a really cool idea,” Rodammer recalls. “I socialized the idea with a few local brewery owners that I know, and eventually pitched the idea to the Guild formally in January of this year. They loved the idea, and we refined it over the next couple months into the Pro-Am format.”

Rodammer, along with homebrewer Jeremy Gavin and BCBG President Jackson VanDyke, became a driving force behind the project, approaching local breweries and devising a method for selecting home brewers. Working with local homebrew competition organizers, the Beer City Pro-Am committee settled on parameters that required participating homebrewers to have medaled in at least one of five area competitions. To keep things local, geographical limitations stipulated that all participants live - or in the case of breweries, operate - within Kent County, or a township immediately adjacent.

Once twenty breweries and twenty homebrewers had been decided upon, pairings were created by a random drawing on April 30th, leaving the resulting teams a three-month window during which to plan, acquire materials, and execute their entries. The resulting brews must be on tap at their respective breweries no later than July 31st. Teams are be bound only by deadline and existing facility limitations.

“We didn’t put any restrictions in, as we wanted to encourage as much creativity as possible,” explains Rodammer. “I've heard of the beers that many of the breweries are making, and I'm excited to see the public's feedback. There will be a lot of very unique beer.”

Team pairings are as follows:

Atwater GR - Jeremy Gavin

BOB's Brewery - John Applegarth

Bier Distillery - Michael Meadow

Brewery Vivant - Jake Szetela

City Built Brewing Co - Paul Arends

ELK Brewing - Ken Pitchford

5 Lakes Brewing Co - Chad Bocian

Grand Rapids Brewing Co - Nick Rodammer

Harmony Brewing Co - George Lawlor

Harmony Hall - Kevin Schumacher

HopCat - Nick Kuzera

Hudsonville Pike 51 Brewing Co - Jeff Carlson

Mitten Brewing Co - Eric Nyhof

Osgood Brewing Co - Andrew Brouwers

Railtown Brewing Co - Mark Iacopelli

Rockford Brewing Co - David Beerens

Speciation Artisan Ales - Ric Brown

Thornapple Brewing Co - Rob Schwartz & Bill Katerburg

White Flame Brewing Co - Andrew Baculy

Notably absent from the competition is local craft beer powerhouse Founders Brewing Company; however, a spokesperson for Founders explained that they generally don’t seek out competitive brewing opportunities, and that their R&D department has already maxed out its summer commitment schedule.

Another conspicuous absence from the list of competitors is - unsurprisingly - women. The world of beer tends to be a boy’s club, but with the formation of Michigan-based women’s brewing collective Fermenta, and the influence of a growing number of engaged and informed women in brewing, we can hope to see some greater diversity in the pool of participants for next year’s competition. Rodammer hopes that, with local qualifying competitions promoting the Cup, a larger community of homebrewers will take the opportunity to compete. Others involved in the competition expressed similar sentiments.

“I look forward to this becoming an annual event so more women can compete and diversify the field a bit next year,” says Kelli Williams, Event and Marketing Chair for BCBG. “I know there are many women homebrewers who are anxious to enter their craft beer into a qualifying competition -- don't wait, brew it! Get involved!"

Anyone interested in sampling entries will be able to find them on tap as of July 31st at participating breweries. Judging will be done by a local panel of qualified beer experts, and will be based on blind tastings. The lucky winner will be announced at the Beer City Brewers Guild Industry Picnic on August 12th at 5 p.m., under the shelter at Long Lake Park. According to their official press release, BCBG welcomes the public to bring their own wine, beer, and food to share, and join in the inaugural celebration of what will hopefully become an annual opportunity for collaboration and creative partnership in Grand Rapids’ brewing community.

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}
p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000; min-height: 14.0px}
p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #232323; -webkit-text-stroke: #232323}
p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 10.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; line-height: 24.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #808080; -webkit-text-stroke: #808080}
p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 10.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; line-height: 24.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #021eaa; -webkit-text-stroke: #01add8}
p.p6 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica; color: #808080; -webkit-text-stroke: #808080; min-height: 14.0px}
span.s1 {font-kerning: none}
span.s2 {font-kerning: none; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #000000}
span.s3 {text-decoration: underline ; font-kerning: none; color: #021eaa; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #01add8}
span.s4 {text-decoration: underline ; font-kerning: none}
span.s5 {font-kerning: none; color: #808080; -webkit-text-stroke: 0px #808080}

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.