European style microbrewery will bring French, Belgian brews to East Hills business district

Deborah Johnson Wood

If Jason and Kris Spaulding have their way, local growers will drink the fruits of their labor at a new European microbrewery in the middle of the East Hills business district in Grand Rapids.

Brewery Vivant, a microbrewery specializing in French and Belgian beers, is the lead tenant in Locus Development's renovation of the former Spectrum Health Childcare property at 925 Cherry Street.

Three buildings – a barrel-roofed garage, a former chapel and a house – will undergo renovation. Locus Development's John Green says phase one will renovate the garage and chapel for the brewery and pub.

Jason Spaulding is a co-founder and former owner of New Holland Brewing Company and says his wife, Kris, began creating their business plan for a new brewery four years ago without having a location in mind.

"We wanted a vibrant neighborhood that felt small, near a populated area, a walkable neighborhood with a variety of owner-operated shops," Spaulding says.

"When this property came up, it was like it was meant to be – the barrel-roofed building has an 18-foot ceiling with trusses, so there are no posts in the middle of floor which is perfect for a brewery," he says. "The former chapel has an archway that looks very Belgian, and we're going to make Belgian and French beers."

Spaulding attended Doemens Brewing Academy near Munich, Germany, then he and Kris toured breweries in Belgium where they picked up ideas for Brewery Vivant.

"Belgians brew more artistically and use more local fruit and spices than the Germans do," Spaulding says. He wants to do the same, using local ingredients for his beers.

"We don't want to be a large brewery," he says. "We want to create a sustainable neighborhood brewery."

John Green says renovation of the entire project includes retail spaces in the existing house, possibly two additional buildings, and the brewery will be LEED certified.

Source: Jason Spaulding, Brewery Vivant; John Green, Locus Development

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Have a development news tip for Rapid Growth? Contact us at [email protected].