GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Haven brewery offers seasonal beers and a colorful atmosphere.
Burzurk Brewing Co., on Washington Avenue near Beechtree Street, was opened three years ago by Karen Forbes and her husband.
Forbes, who grew up in a small city called Salvatierra in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, started working in the restaurant industry at 15. She said she always wanted to open her own place.
“I really enjoy it,” she said. “I have a passion for it and that’s what got us thinking about like, ‘Hey, let’s have a business of our own.'”
She met her husband when he came to a restaurant in Mexico she was working at. After moving to West Michigan in 2012, she said, she had a hard time finding a job.
“It was a challenge for me to find a job coming from a different country with no background of education here from the United States, no background of work,” she explained. “I looked for over a year for work and nobody would hire me.”
Her and her husband started out as home brewers as a side gig. They started doing it full time in September 2020, when they opened the brewery. When they both lost their jobs during the pandemic, they had to rely completely on the business.
“We’re still going strong,” she said.
The Grand Haven community has been very supportive, she said.
“It’s a beautiful place. People are very welcoming and we have had an amazing response from our local people here. They kept supporting us during COVID. They were coming and checking on us: ‘Are you guys OK? We want you guys to make it through,'” she said.
Burzurk Brewing Co. has done several collaborations and fundraisers with other businesses and organizations in the area.
“We’re always trying to give back as much as we can to our community,” Forbes said.
Forbes said she loves her work. The challenges she has faced, she said, have only driven her forward.
“In a such a male-dominated industry, which is the brewery industry, it’s always a challenge in trying to prove yourself, as a Hispanic Latina female, your knowledge of beer,” she said. “You’re always trying to prove yourself. So for me, that’s what keeps me going. And it’s that drive, that, ‘Hey, women, Latina women know about beer too. … And we can make, actually, really good beer.'”
She said it’s very traditional to drink beer in Mexican culture, but it wasn’t until she came to the United States that she “started really digging into that craft beer industry.”
“I just fell in love with all the flavors and … there’s so much spices and stuff and different types of hops. It’s very similar to my culture, because we use a lot of … herbs, fresh ingredients,” she said.
Stepping inside the brewery, customers will see bright colors, Hispanic decorations and a mural on the wall, featuring symbols for “peace, love and beer.”
“Beer just brings people together,” Forbes said.
She said they take a lot of pride in their work and are intentional about supporting diversity, equity and inclusion and the LGBTQ community.
Burzurk Brewing Co. has a variety of beers, Forbes said, and likes to highlight Hispanic beers, like the Kicking Donkey, a Mexican lager and seasonal options. They’re getting ready for a pumpkin cheesecake and a waffle porter.
It doesn’t have a food menu yet, but Forbes said they’re working on a plan to start offering food.
“We do fun beers here, so just come and check us out,” Forbes said.
News 8 is featuring Hispanic-owned West Michigan businesses this week in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. Come back Thursday to read about how two brothers’ HVAC company found success, and catch our Hispanic Heritage Month special Thursday at 7 p.m. on WOOD TV8.