Jolly Pumpkin makes a proposal to the West Side of GR


Documents filed with the city’s design and engineering department, coinciding with rumors we’ve heard in the Grand Rapids brewing community, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales plans to open its first West Michigan location at 449 – 499 Bridge Street on the West Side of Grand Rapids. The building that they plan to renovate into the new brewery was formerly the Red Lion restaurant, which closed and was going to be torn down for a parking lot back in 2006.

Jolly Pumpkin based out of Dexter, Michigan, which has a partnership with Northern United Brewing Company, is best known for its niche “sour beers” which are aged with naturally occurring wild yeast for months in old wine barrels. The resulting beers feature what many call a “complex flavor profile” that you don’t get with typical craft beers.

Plans being reviewed by the city show a 2500 square foot addition to the Red Lion building, an outdoor beer garden along Bridge Street, and overhead garage doors to create an open air concept that has become increasingly popular with bars and restaurants. Inquiries to Jolly Pumpkin were not returned.

According to Brewbound magazine, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales began in 2004 with the purpose of brewing weird and expressive beers using the techniques of open fermentation, oak aging and blending by Chief Squeegee Operator Ron Jeffries in Dexter, Michigan. In 2009 Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales joined forces with Traverse City’s North Peak Brewing Company to form Northern United Brewing Company.

Jolly Pumpkin made headlines when President Barack Obama stopped at their relatively new location in Detroit. In addition to locations in Detroit and Traverse City, Jolly Pumpkin recently announced plans to open a location in Bay City, Michigan.

Cross your fingers that this proposed project moves forward. Cheers!


Jeff Hill is a contributor to GRNow and a development and economics junkie who likes to keep his finger on the pulse of what’s next for Grand Rapids. He also dabbles in residential construction, real estate and development himself to help pay the bills. You can email him feedback or insider story ideas to