GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When we raise a pint, it’s often paired with a toast to something or someone, followed with a resounding “Cheers!”
“À votre santé” is a popular French toast that means, “to your health.” That saying isn’t only fitting for the latest brewery featured on Hops with #HeyLuke, but also for these times. As breweries slowly reopen and are allowed to welcome more guests, the more weight a roaring “à votre santé” carries with a group of friends with whom we haven’t been able visit in a pub during the pandemic.
The toast is heard a little more clearly in a brewery that specializes in French and Belgian style beers like Brewery Vivant.
Co-owner Jason Spaulding showed off three brews unique to his funeral chapel-turned-brewhouse in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids.
Up first was the nod to Grand Rapids, the Rapid IPA. A step away from the traditional Belgian style Brewery Vivant is familiar with, the Rapid IPA is an American style.
“This uses an American yeast instead of a Belgian yeast,” Spaulding explained as we tested a pilot batch. “It’s more subtle. The Belgian yeast gives off a lot of different flavors and esters, this is more all about the hops.”
Spaulding says the Rapid IPA is set to be available statewide starting St. Patrick’s Day.
The second beer, the Tree Bucket Double IPA, is a hefty 9.5%.
“This is a double IPA. So Rapid is an IPA. So (Tree Bucket is) double the strength; it’s about 9.5% alcohol,” Spaulding said.
Originally called Trebuchet, the French word for a type of catapult, the Tree Bucket name wasn’t even supposed to happen.
“People would mispronounce it. People never took those French lessons,” Spaulding joked. “We’re just going to change the name to Tree Bucket.”
Last, we tried the Wizard Burial Ground Bourbon Barrel Aged Quadruple Ale. Yes, it’s a mouthful, but it’s getting the #HeyLuke Certified Story, or highlight, of the episode.
Its particular bourbon-marshmallow taste paired with a name inspired by a local band with a song called ‘Wizard Burial Ground’ is enough to pique any beer drinker’s interest.
“That sweetness catches people by surprise, too, that makes it really palatable for people that don’t necessarily like bourbon. But you definitely get that bourbon background. It’s a well-balanced beer,” Spaulding said.
Another big draw to this brewery is the building. Long ago, it served as a funeral chapel.
“We had a whole plan around it (the brewery) and this building just kind of fit it to a tee… If you go back to 2009, that was that financial crash, and to try to start a business then,” Spaulding said with a grin, “outside of COVID, I would’ve said that was the biggest challenge ever.”
Like any challenge, whether it’s running a business during a pandemic or opening one during a financial crisis, the persistent manage to overcome. The best part about said business being a brewery, though, is that you have your pick of what beer to finish a day, good or bad, with. To that, I say, “À votre santé.”
For more Hops with #HeyLuke, head over to WOODTV.com’s Live Desk page. Stay tuned next week for another installment featuring Gravel Bottom Brewing in Ada. Also be sure to follow our Instagram page (@woodtv) for exclusive clips not seen in the above video.
If you would like your brewery featured on an episode of “Hops with #HeyLuke,” you can reach out to Luke via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook or Twitter.