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Brewery Vivant sets standards for businesses locally, nationwide

Inspired by the brasseries of Belgium and France, Brewery Vivant strives to implement community values and be environmentally friendly.

Gourmet, locally-sourced food at Brewery Vivant

Brewery Vivant has also made it their goal to serve gourmet, artisanal food that pairs well with their beer.

View their current menu here.

2013 wood aged beer fest

2013 wood aged beer fest /Eric Tank

In the business plan for Brewery Vivant, owners Jason and Kris Spaulding focused on three major goals: community connection, sustainability and brewing Belgian- and French-inspired beers. Striving to make these a reality has set the brewery apart from businesses in the area and across the nation. 

The inspiration for Brewery Vivant's goals comes from the small European breweries the couple toured while Jason Spaulding was taking a brewing class in Belgium.

"We liked the involvement that all of these breweries had in their communities," says co-owner Kris Spaulding. "The brewmasters would just brew with the ingredients they had. That beer would have its own unique taste."

"The brewmaster would be the only guy that works for his brewery, but he would also be the mayor or the head of the tourist group, just wearing all of these different hats; it showed how integrated they were into the community," she says.

In an effort to recreate this authenticity, Brewery Vivant aims to source their ingredients from local suppliers. The brewery also strives to imitate these European breweries' unique relationships with their communities.

Kris Spaulding remembers one inspiring brewer who was interested in education.

"He built a minigolf course that all the local school kids played golf on that explained all the steps of brewing," says Kris Spaulding. "Here it's like taboo, you can't talk about alcohol around children. There, it's part of their community and what they do, and they teach kids about it and they respect it a lot more."

The desire to achieve a connection with the local community informed many of the decisions surrounding the founding of Brewery Vivant.

"One of our goals is to donate 10% of our profits to charity each year, which we've been able to do," says Kris Spaulding.

Brewery Vivant has also endeavored to support the community through volunteer work, some of which occurs right in their own neighborhood.

The brewery focused on some projects this year with Congress Elementary School, which sits across the street. One way they aimed to elevate the school in the public eye involved partnering with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to do a tree planting in Congress Park in October.

But the brewery's efforts to establish itself as an innovator reach beyond the local community, and even beyond state lines. Brewery Vivant is the first craft brewery in the United States to achieve Silver LEED Certification.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a system of rating buildings on how sustainable they are in terms of design, construction, operations and maintenance. Throughout the process of establishing Brewery Vivant, a specialist was consulted to ensure the building met the necessary requirements. Making sure all the requirements were met had its costs, but Kris Spaulding believes the benefits to the business make it worth it.

"Sustainability and being conscious about your impact on the environment and the community around you was just part of our DNA," she says. "It was kind of like a no-brainer."

Kris Spaulding speculated that manufacturers struggle to meet the necessary energy requirements of LEED Certification. She thinks the manufacturing component of Brewery Vivant is the reason the brewery did not achieve Gold LEED Certification, which was their original intention, but she notes that it is still a worthy thing to strive for.

"As long as you're focused on it and you have knowledgeable people on the project that know what the requirements are, I think it's attainable for anyone who's truly interested in doing it," she says.

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