|The Mitten Brewing Company: Unique brews with a baseball flair|
by Chelsea Slocum
Max and Chris, founders of The Mitten Brewing Company have hit this one out of the park. They are currently putting the finishing touches on a top to bottom renovation of the old firehouse on Leonard in the Westside of Grand Rapids. Personally restoring much of the building themselves, they have transformed this historical landmark from an underutilized space to a top notch brewery, restaurant, and local baseball hangout.
Engine House Number 9 functioned as a working fire station from 1890 to 1966. From 1966 till now it was used for various purposes, the most recent being a dance studio and residential apartment. Chris and Max saw the potential in the fire house and in the West Leonard corridor as a great spot for their brewery. Both men come from business/finance backgrounds and began brewing with intention 4 years ago. “Our brewing became obsessive,” says Chris, “we are picky brewers and study everything.” Engine House Number 9 was the first place they toured and something they kept coming back to. “Everyone has a soft spot for the history behind this building,” says Chris. “In addition the West Leonard corridor is really expanding,” says Max, “Arnie’s was just rebuilt, Ralph’s Supermarket is doubling in size, Walgreens is getting a huge renovation; it seemed like the right time.”
Both Max and Chris plan to pay homage to the history behind the engine house while putting their own spin on the structure. They have exposed the original ceiling and the brick walls of the fire house; you can even see where the horse stalls were built. They custom built their bar out of authentic wooden floor boards from the fire station and the old fire pole is still there too. “The Grand Rapids Fire Department has been great about donating relics from their stations,” says Chris, “our décor will reflect the history of this place while focusing on our personal passion, baseball.”
When you look at The Mitten Brewing Company logo you’ll notice that while the mitten looks like the outline of Michigan, it’s actually a baseball mitt. “We want to be the ultimate place to watch the Tigers game,” says Max. Their establishment will be one of the first sports bar micro-breweries in Michigan; think of a cross between Buffalo Wild Wings and Founders Brewery. They plan offer 6 staple brews daily and 2 seasonal taps. The beer will be served out of modern stainless steel tanks as opposed to kegs. Some brews will be baseball themed such as their 84 pale ale in honor of the 1984 Tigers dream team; they’ve gone so far as to ensure the brew has 8.4% alcohol!
Just as the brews are one of kinds their food fare will not disappoint. Gourmet pizzas will be customized to compliment the beer on tap. The pizzas will reflect the creativity already present within Mitten Brew Company and the founders’ health conscious attitude; every pizza on their menu can be “veganized” upon request. They also plan to offer two gluten free crusts. Every month the brewery also plans to partner with a local charity and donate a percentage of their profits to them.
“Great brews, pizza, and baseball, that’s what we are going for,” says Chris, “we want to be a fun neighborhood bar that has something for everyone.” The Mitten Brewing Company is going to be a great additional to Grand Rapids this fall and another local example of ingenuity in brewing and vintage renovations.
Chelsea Slocum is a resident of Grand Rapids. She works as an educator and enjoys learning about new and different things happening in the city. Follow her on twitter @cslocum.
Published: September 4, 2012
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