The trees of metro Grand Rapids were nearly wiped out by Dutch Elm disease or better put, they were nearly wiped out by city officials overreacting to the epidemic. Instead of treating the disease, they decided to kill the patients.“Whenever there is a need, before long, you will find an entrepreneur with a better idea”

Now, Metro Grand Rapids has a different attitude toward trees. We love our trees. As a result, we have one of the better tree canopies in the U.S.  City officials and groups like the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks are doing their best to increase the “tree canopy” over this West Michigan community, as I wrote in the Crain’s Michigan Business article, “Perhaps money does grow on trees.”

Grand Rapids also loves its beer, and brother does Grand Rapids have beer.I have written several stories for Crain’s Michigan Business on that subject and an ebook essay, Quenching The Thirst. Now the two have come together and Grand Rapids has “Tree Beer.”

Seventeen area breweries have joined forces to create tree inspired beer in support of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and their Urban Forest Project, an initiative to maximize the tree canopy in all parts of the city.

Each brewery has produced its own version of the craft tree beer, which will be offered on tap through Saturday, Aug. 10. Breweries used ingredients such as maple, oak, cherry, etc. to make their tree inspired beer. Area breweries will be celebrating this initiative in a multitude of ways including, donating $1 per pint sold of its entire batch of tree-inspired beer, others will host release parties and some are even looking at keeping different brewers options on tap at their brewpub.

The money collected by each brewery will go into a Tree Bank that will be used to purchase an official “brewers grove” within the city.

Participating breweries include:

Crankers Brewery, 213 South State Street, Big Rapids 49307
Schmohz Brewing Co., 2600 Patterson Ave SE, Grand Rapids 49546
Mitten Brewing Co., 527 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids 49504
BOB’s Brewery, 20 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids 49503
Jaden James Brewery, 4665 Broadmoor, Grand Rapids 49512
Founders Brewing Co., 235 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids 49503
Hopcat, 25 Ionia Ave SW #100, Grand Rapids 49503
Brewery Vivant, 925 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids 49506
Harmony Brewing Co., 1551 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids 49506
Grand Rapids Brewing Co., 1 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids 49503
Rockford Brewing Co., 12 E Bridge St, Rockford 49341
Perrin Brewing Co., 910 Comstock Park Dr Comstock Park 49321
White Flame Brewing Co., 5234 36th Ave, Hudsonville 49426
Pike 51 Brewery, 3768 Chicago Dr, Hudsonville 49426
Hideout Brewing Co., 3113 Plaza Dr NE, Grand Rapids 49525
Cellar Brewing Co., 500 E Division St., Sparta 49345
The People’s Cider Co., 600 Maryland Ave NE Grand Rapids 49505

“We were looking for a tangible way to give back to the city that has been so supportive and enthusiastic about our industry,” said Barry VanDyke of Harmony Brewing Company. “All the brewers are having a blast coming up with tree themed beers; I think folks will see some ridiculously delicious beers come out of this!”

Trees and beer are two better ideas with staying power. After all, Grand Rapids is Beer City USA. How did that happen? I’ll address that subject in my next blog. Until then, what about your Better Idea, or the Better Idea that you’ve heard about? Let me know, I’d like to learn more. Email me anytime at  More of my writing is available at

Rod Kackley is an author and  journalist. He has written for Crain’s Detroit Business, The Detroit News, and MiBiz.  He is a former news director for WOOD-AM/FM and has written a book that tells the story of the creation of Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile, Last Chance Mile: The Reinvention of an American Community.

(C) 2013 Lyons Circle Publishing Inc.