The Rapidian

Mitten Brewing Co. works to fill void in Grand Rapids beer scene

Established less than a year ago last October, The Mitten Brewing Company's first year has been one of massive growth.Their plan for the future: keep on growing.
Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus, co-founders of The Mitten Brewing Co.

Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus, co-founders of The Mitten Brewing Co. /Marie Orttenburger

Visit The Mitten Brewing Company

527 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-midnight
Sunday: Noon-8 p.m.

The Mitten Brewing Co. Bar

The Mitten Brewing Co. Bar /Marie Orttenburger

The Mitten Brewing Co. Dining Area

The Mitten Brewing Co. Dining Area /Marie Orttenburger

Max Trierweiler and Chris Andrus have known each other since kindergarten. Both born and raised in Grand Rapids, the two started brewing beer together in a garage. They threw around the idea of owning a brewery as they got better, but it wasn't until they found a hole in the market that they decided to start making serious plans about starting The Mitten Brewing Company.

"We couldn't find a place to watch the Tigers game and drink good beer. It was either one or the other. You had to make a choice," Andrus says.

They found what they say is the perfect location, the historic firehouse Engine House No. 9 on Leonard Street, and got to work. Much of the restoration Andrus and Trierweiler completed personally. The result was The Mitten Brewing Company: a vintage baseball-themed sports bar-brewpub hybrid.

They have experienced a whirlwind of a first year. The Mitten Brewing Company was set to open before the 2012 World Series. They couldn't have anticipated the success they'd experience once they found out the Detroit Tigers would be playing. The brewpub was so busy during the World Series it had to close for 16 days because they ran out of beer.

Even after the season ended, The Mitten Brewing Company sustained its popularity. They've developed a reputation for being too busy on Fridays and Saturdays. They saw that the lack of space was causing them to lose potential customers, so they started formulating plans to expand. Construction is set to begin in October this year.

The brewpub currently seats 65. The expansion will add seating on a second floor and on the outside of the building, creating a total of 204 seats. In addition to expanding the brewpub, they're also looking to expand their reach.

The Mitten Brewing Company distributed to Fifth Third Ballpark all season this last year. They plan to distribute at other minor league ballparks in Michigan and outside of the state, depending on how much beer their facilities allow them produce.

Their beer isn't the only thing that attracts a crowd. Their pizza has also developed a reputation for being some of the best in town.

"We never set out to be a pizzeria," Trierweiler says. But they wanted to have good food, so they decided to pick one thing and do it well. The unique menu is vegan and gluten-free friendly. 

"We wanted to build a place we could go every day and enjoy it," says Trierweiler. Andrus is vegan and Trierweiler's mother eats gluten-free. It made sense to create a menu that not only they could enjoy, but that their friends and family could as well.

The beer is brewed by Rob "Wob" Wanhatalo and Jason Warnes. Andrus says the two work well together, in part because of their vastly differing personalities. They brew the staple recipes created by Trierweiler and Andrus, but have also added their own recipes to the list of recurring favorites, such as Mitten Pale Ale and Triple Crown Brown.

As for the future, Trierweiler says The Mitten Brewing Company will keep on growing.

"We want to grow as big as we can," Trierweiler says. But the two plan to maintain the neighborhood feel of the brewpub.

"This place will always be the same," says Andrus, "This pub, this location, is the reason we wanted to do it."

The Mitten Brewing Company has thus far maintained the hometown feel of the brewery by engaging with the Grand Rapids community. The two are at the bar talking to their customers every day. The brewery is a member of Local First and also holds fundraisers for local charities every month. Since they've started, they've raised over $12,000 for local charities.

"Without the community, we're nothing," says Trierweiler. "In order to be an active member of the community, we have to give back to it."

You can find The Mitten Brewing Company at 527 Leonard St. NW. They're open Monday - Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

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