Sports bar or microbrewery? Two die-hard Tigers fans put baseball spin on new Grand Rapids brewpub

Memorabilia from the Detroit Tigers, The Negro Baseball League, the Women's Baseball League, and six seats from the old Tigers' stadium give the new Mitten Brewing a distinctive theme that pairs well with hearty craft beer.

What used to be Engine House No. 9 (527 Leonard St. NW) on Grand Rapids' west side is now one of the city's newest microbreweries, headed up by lifelong friends and Grand Rapids natives Max Trierweiler and Christopher Andrus. Trierweiler and Andrus, both 32, have brewed beer together for over five years with the goal of opening a microbrewery. They brought on head brewer Rob Wanhatalo, former head brewer of The Hideout Brewing Company, to oversee production.

"Finding the right piece of property and the right vintage theme tied it all together for people like us -- baseball fans and lovers of craft beer," Andrus says. "There's nothing around here that mixes a sports bar and microbrewery."

The guys say they've spent 50 hours a week since February gutting and rebuilding the 2,700-square-foot main level to accommodate a three-barrel brewing system and taproom. They created the bar out of reclaimed lumber from the building, polished up the original firepole, added five flat-screen TVs, and installed a pizza oven and walk-in cooler. The plan is to serve six site-brewed beers when the operation is in full swing.

For Mitten Brewing's opening on October 25, the taps will flow with three beers: Peanut & Crackerjack, a robust porter brewed with natural peanut butter, and caramel and chocolate malts; a traditional German Hefeweizen wheat beer; and the pub's Mitten Hefeweizen, an American amber pale ale.

The pizza menu features pizzas created to pair with specific brews, such as, the Thai pizza with peanut sauce that pairs with the Peanut & Crackerjack beer.

"Every month, we'll designate a charity to donate a portion of our proceeds to," Trierweiler says. "For the first month, our investors chose the first round of charities, which will be the new Miracle League Field proposed in Rockford."

Hours: first two weeks, open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Beginning early Nov., Mon. - Weds. 11 a.m. to midnight; Thurs. - Sat. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sun. noon to midnight.

Source: Max, Trierweiler, Christopher Andrus, Mitten Brewing
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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