Twice actually. In one week.
Grand Rapids Michigan is (self proclaimed?) Beer City in a state that excels in the craft beer/microbrewery market. It’s close to Michigan’s beautiful west coast and happens to be an easy two hour drive from my hometown. One of my sisters goes to college in Grand Rapids, I have a brother who lives not too far from there, and a friend in the area as well. Lots of non-beer related reasons to visit the area….but I do love my craft beers.
It started shortly after my divorce was finalized. During the messy ordeal there were some wildly ridiculous accusations flying around. One was that I’m a reckless alcoholic (if you knew me you’d be laughing about that); to avoid giving credence to this suggestion my house became a dry establishment. It wasn’t a big change for me but having to modify my behaviour because of blatant lies was beyond annoying. I felt like I always had to be looking over my shoulder and toeing the line. The thought that something totally normal I might say or do had the potential to jeopardize my parenting time was terrible. It was paranoai inducing, rightfully so. Once the papers were signed and the dust settled it felt good to go out and buy a freakin beer. I’ve always liked beer and now that fancy beer was such a popular cultural phenomenon educating myself about said fancy beer seemed a fun way to stay current. Not only would I enjoy drinking new and different types of beer, I would also have something interesting to talk to people about. Social drinking at its finest.
Anyhow, Grand Rapids Michigan, aka Beer City USA, is home to some of the best breweries in Michigan. Founder’s! Bell’s (technically not in Grand Rapids but not too far from it). And many more. There’s a beer walk and a variety of brewery tours. (I SO want to do one of these!) I went there twice last week. Twice! And all I got was one sad Michelob Ultra. Not just a light beer an ultra light beer. The atrocity of it!
So how does a beer enthusiast get so close to the source of that many sources of tasty, quality craft beers and not indulge? Kids.
I took my kids to the Grand Rapids Public Museum on the Saturday. We met up with my friend who lives in the area (and his girlfriend and kids) and made a day of it.
That is the official gap-toothed grin of approval.
Because I travel with a pack it was almost cheaper to buy the year long family pass to the museum. It also gets us into museums across the country for free for the year. Hopefully that means I’ll be telling you about more museum trips in the near future. Maybe even a trip to Chicago Gotta get my money’s worth, right?
Getting out the door with my five, even though they’re older now, is always such a task and my oldest ended up staying home to sleep eat all the snack food in the house “work on homework”. Even if we were missing one it was good to go out in public together and have some family time.
We ended our day out at IHOP. The 11 year old thought they had an all you can eat pancakes special going on. They did not but he insisted he needed a full stack of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and a side order of sausage. Yah, there were some leftovers.
My daughter is apparently of those people now. You know the ones, they take pictures of their food to share with their friends. To be fair, she’s basically in love with Nutella so banana Nutella crepes were kind of a big deal.
In the weeks leading up to our first outing to Beer City Grand Rapids my quiet, extremely introverted fifteen year old mentioned a concert. Fallout Boy and Awolnation were coming to Grand Rapids on a Tuesday night and it was a Tuesday night that the kids would be with me. At first mention I acknowledged that that was pretty cool but didn’t think anything of it. When he casually brought it up again a few days later it dawned on me that he wanted to go.
So we went.
I had worked Sunday night and only slept a few hours on Monday in order to get a run in and study for a test in my Tuesday morning class. Because I procrastinated and wasted a possible study day the week before I was feeling woefully under prepared for this test. I stayed up late Monday to study and got up early Tuesday to try and cram more information into my brain. Tuesday afternoon was hectic. I went from class (fit in another rushed run) to get the kids, had a quick shower, and hurried out the door to get to the show in a timely manner. I didn’t want to miss Awolnation! The plan was to eat something light before we left and get dinner on the way home because of time constraints. Except I didn’t have a chance to get food. I thought the granola bar stash in my car would hold me over but it did not. Once we got to Grand Rapids, found parking, and got to our seats I realized I was starving and starting to develop a bad headache because of it. Something resembling real food was necessary. I broke down and bought an over priced, slightly dry cheeseburger between bands…and a cold Michelob Ultra to go with it.
Honestly, I was so hungry and parched by then that in the moment I felt like that was the best burger and beer I had ever had. I ate like I hadn’t seen food in a week, fast and enthusiastically.
While I am not a Fallout Boy fan my children are. In their defense they also like good music like Queen, Nirvana, and Billy Joel so I must be doing something right. It makes occasionally listening to bands like Fallout Boy tolerable. And really a concert is a concert.
This is the third time I’ve seen Awolnation. They’re one of my favorite bands and pretty great live. Apparently many Fallout Boy fans do not appreciate them like I do. The very large crowd was lame and quiet while Awol was performing.
When these guys came on they livened up though.
At one point one of the Fallout boys began talking about believing in your dreams, anything is possible and all that…which is fine and dandy if a bit trite. His delivery left something to be desired though. It reminded me of conversations my oldest son and his friends have where they’re all agreeing enthusiastically and Yeah-ing but none what they’re saying actually make much sense. There was something about cars being totally normal but before they existed everyone said it wasn’t possible until they were invented and then something about being told he’d never be able to dunk a basketball but he practiced every day and he still can’t dunk because he’s short but he’s “dunking the fucking basketball right fucking now!” And it dissolved into a cloud of fucks and loose metaphors delivered to the sound of screaming fans of all ages (but mostly female). Umm, yeah.So there you have it…me in Beer City twice in one week and only a Michelob Ultra to show for it.