Farmhouse ales in a former-funeral home
Some people might argue that Brewery Vivant is not the best brewery and brewpub in Grand Rapids, and those people are wrong. The brewery specializes in "Michigan farmhouse ales," utilizing local flavors and ingredients in often-playful, always-satisfying styles inspired by the small farmhouse breweries of the Northern France and Southern Belgium countryside. They also serve an excellent menu of hearty from-scratch pub food, similarly inspired by French and Belgian country fare (get the duck confit nachos or poutine). Boozehounds and brettheads alike have plenty to get excited about with their barrel-aged and wild-fermented beers, and their annual Wood Aged Beer Fest, held every September, is a must.
Must-try beer: Farm Hand, their highly refreshing but still complex flagship farmhouse ale.
Small-batch big beers from the former head brewer of Founders
If you love the big, BIG beers from Founders but find the craft-ish giant a little too giant for your tastes, pop on over to teeny-tiny Greyline on the West Side. Owned by Nate Walser, the head brewer that basically made Founders what it is today, Greyline is fully his passion project and artistic expression. It's best not to go there seeking a specific beer -- the lineup can change at any time -- but come with an open mind and you'll find plenty to log on Untapped. But keep in mind, after years of dealing with unhinged KBS-mania, Greyline is Walser's sort of anti-Founders: tiny on purpose, catering more to local neighborhood folks than white whale-chasers. They've also got a great pub menu of beer-friendly foods like sliders, sandies, wieners, and macs.
Must-try beer: See above about how the lineup can and does change at any time. Ask your beer mage what they're most excited about right now, and try those.