Sneak Peek: The Mitten Brewing Co

(Grand Rapids, MI) — Beer is on our minds, lately. It has to do with our recent two page expanded column in the November issue of Grand Rapids Magazine, relating our “Beer vs. Wine” dinner experiment and also HeFed’s feature article in the same issue about Beer City USA. So, when we hear The Mitten Brewing Company finally opened their doors for a sneak peek, we are excited to check it out. Unfortunately, SheFed doesn’t feel well enough to tag along but HeFed heads out bravely on a blustery Halloween night to meet friends for pizza and brew...

He Fed:

The Mitten Brewing Company has been open for about a week, with just a few taps pouring and a limited pizza menu for food. It took them some time to skirt bureaucratic red tape and complete the project, inside an old firehouse on the west side of Grand Rapids, but the wait has been worth it; the interior is gorgeous brick and wood, and they even kept the pole. Their brewery is baseball themed, but I’m not a sports guy so it doesn’t interest me much. I want to know more about their beer and pizza!

I’m the first to arrive and snag a small table near the entrance. One of the servers milling around the bar comes over immediately. He’s a little quiet and doesn’t seem to know much about the menu, but friendly enough and efficient. I order a pint of their Peanut and Cracker Jack Porter. I’m not a big fan of porters, but this is less sticky-sweet than others I’ve had and the Cracker Jack profile is spot on, nutty and dry. Most of the brews tend toward lower alcohol levels, which I appreciate...especially when sampling several pints. I am disappointed they’ve run out of their Pale Ale, but also happy for them that their first week has been so successful.

No sooner than a couple sips into my beer and I’m joined by Old E, T Fuss, and Cookie. They all order beers, then we jump into the deep end of the pool by ordering two specialty pizzas: Pesto with sliced chicken breast, roasted garlic, red onion, artichoke hearts, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese (we ask them to leave off the mushrooms); and BBQ with Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle sauce, sliced chicken breast, red onions, green peppers, cilantro and smoked mozzarella cheese. I’m tolerant of the Pesto but I really dig the spicy-sweet BBQ version. I’ve always been a sucker for BBQ chicken pizzas when done right, and the smoked cheese is a great touch.

I should mention, there is a bit of a delay before the pies arrive. Evidently the oven wasn’t preheated early enough. However, they send out some free cheesy bread to help us pass the time. That’s the sign of a kitchen and management who are very aware of what’s going on with the timing of their service. Class act. One of the owners is also busily running out food and checking up on guests. Again, class act all the way and much appreciated.

Meantime, I’m on to the Grand Pumpkin beer with pumpkin that has been roasted in the pizza oven and combined with spices and crystallized ginger for an autumnal ale that stands up proudly with all the other pumpkin beers on the market this season. In fact, it may be my favorite so far. I used to enjoy pumpkin beers, ever since trying one in Saint Charles, Missouri at Trailhead Brewing. Since then, though, I’ve pretty much hated every pumpkin brew I’ve tried...including one I tried to make. But Mitten’s is not too cloying. I can actually drink more than one, if pressed.

On a whim, we ask our server if they have any sausage? He doesn’t think so, but knows they have ham. Juliet asked for a sausage pizza to be brought home, but I’m hoping ham will suffice. We get one with green peppers. At the same time, I get my final pint: Hefeweizen. I do love a good wheat beer, though Hefeweizen tends to rub me the wrong way much of the time. Not this one. It’s one of the most solid renditions I’ve ever drank. Very traditional, with banana notes (minus clove) and firm body without feeling heavy. It pairs well with the food.

One final note on the pizza: the dough is the star of the show here. It tastes fresh and yeasty, adding a faint sour and savory undercurrent that I just love. It is almost as good as Trillium Haven’s dough.

Even though The Mitten Brewing Co doesn’t officially open until later in November, the sneak peek is enough to get me excited for their expanded menu options. It is so nice to have a great beer and pizza place within spitting distance. I cannot wait to return.

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