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Brewery Vivant recognized for focus on locally-sourced French, Belgian-inspired food

Grand Rapids Magazine has awarded the neighborhood craft brewpub with their first annual Best Brewery (Cuisine) Dining Award.
Executive Chef/General Manager Chris Weimer (far right) and three of Brewery Vivant's chefs.

Executive Chef/General Manager Chris Weimer (far right) and three of Brewery Vivant's chefs. /Rachel McLaughlin

Chef prepares one of the many meals featured on Brewery Vivant's menu.

Chef prepares one of the many meals featured on Brewery Vivant's menu. /Rachel McLaughlin

/Rachel McLaughlin

Brewery Vivant was recently “surprised” to find out through a Facebook post from Grand Rapids Magazine that the brewery had won the magazine's first ever “Best Brewery (Cuisine) Dining award.” The funeral chapel-turned-brewery has been offering its guests a fine dining feel with a pub atmosphere for over five years as of November 2015, winning a best restaurant award from Grand Rapids Magazine last year as well.

Brewery Vivant offers self-proclaimed classic, heavy and rich dishes made from ingredients purchased within 250 miles of the brewery. Chefs strive to "put their hearts on a plate" by pairing the French- and Belgian-inspired meals with their own craft beer. The Belgian-style beer, itself award-winning, is made onsite. Beer destined for sale outside the brewery is canned, not bottled, in order to reduce the brewery's carbon footprint.

According to Executive Chef and General Manager Chris Weimer, the brewery doesn't want to separate beer and food.

"Be a pub, but with a kick in the ass," he says. Weimer explains that the brewery strives for amazing food just as much as amazing beer.

"It's just par for the course for us to be better and better every day," he says. Keeping with their normal routine of being better each day has won Brewery Vivant the award from GR Magazine.

"As much as we like craft beer," says Weimer, "we want to be craft food as well. We want to offer the best we can offer." The brewery offers the best they can through the use of fresh and locally-sourced ingredients and incorporation of vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.

The brewery's food is based on a "handshake or a beer," meaning Brewery Vivant physically meets and gets to know the farmers locally distributing food the brewery uses.

"Food with a face is what's local to me," says Weimer.

"We tend to focus solely on the beer and food combination and how it compliments one another,” says Weimer. He says having brewers working next to chefs is "a blessing.”

The staff work to have the craft beer compliment the food but the process doesn’t stop there as the chefs incorporate food into beer production.

Last week, 30 gallons of caramel was created by a pastry chef in order to be used in a currently un-named new beer. In the future, chefs at Brewery Vivant and elsewhere will be able to use what the brewery calls “Chef Systems” to brew their own beers for special occasions to pair with their food.

"We want to have good beer, good food and a good life," says Weimer.

Winning the award, according to Weimer, has given him even more motivation to continue Brewery Vivant's success. He believes the credit for the brewery's win was earned by the 10 chefs in the kitchen creating French and Belgian-inspired food.

"We have a lot of determination and a lot of passion back there," says Weimer, "People work 15-16 hours a day and come back the next day with a smile on their face to do it all again." 

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great article Rachel!

Thank you, that means a lot!