Saturday, February 22, 2014

Festival Website Limbo - One man's frustration with the festival ticket purchase process

Festival Website Limbo

One man's frustration with the festival ticket purchase process

So as I just blogged about the time and frustration it took to finally purchase Bonnaroo tickets after waiting online for 1 hour and 22 minutes, I feel I need to vent a bit further on my frustrations.  I understand the bigger the festival, the higher demand there will be for tickets.  Obviously as a part of the "Big 4" festivals, I knew what was to be expected when I went the website this morning before the release.  That is why I went to the Bonnaroo home page on three different computers in addition to my phone to set myself up for the chance to get in to buy tickets first.  I had to prepare myself for a long haul though as festival ticket releases can be a taxing event for the festival goer.  I knew I could expect the wait queues, DNS errors, "this page was not found", and HTML coding pop ups.  Even when I got to the point where I could see tickets in my basket, it wouldn't let me buy them.  One has to wonder if there is a better process for major events like this?

I am not a website developer nor have I ever dealt with trying to sell tickets to an event this massive, so I am not judging those that put the websites together.  The festival organizers have to know what will happen the moment the second hand hits the top of the hour and people start refreshing their browsers.  This has happened to me several times in the past and not just for big festivals (tickets Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds Brewery comes to mind).  But a festival of this size should be more prepared for an attack on the website shouldn't they?  I understand they outsource ticket sales to third party ticket sites, but shouldn't those sites be prepared too?

I have gone through this awful experience with Lollapalooza and Coachella tickets before.  Last year, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to get into the purchasing site for Lolla.  Tickets also completely sold out within 90 minutes.  I got into Coachella's website within 30 minutes and they sold out in less than an hour.  Those festivals get as much traffic as Bonnaroo, yet it seems like they can handle it a bit better.   Coachella even has to account for two weekends in its ticket releases.  I think its time to come up with a lottery, apply better re-sale regulations or simply do staged ticket sales.  The current process can take its toll on someone who is waiting an hour and a half to cough up $300.  I mean think about that.  Isn't it worth the investment for the festival to apply a better platform for its faithful patrons?  Until that time though, I guess I just have to sit back and take it in front of my laptop and yell obscenities every time I get a "There is currently a high demand for tickets..." message.  I just wish the big festivals would have the same high demand of providing customer satisfaction.

Get it.

Bonnaroo Tickets On Sale Now!

Bonnaroo Tickets On Sale Now!

Tickets for Bonnaroo went on sale this afternoon at noon EST. 

At this point (2:38pm EST), there are only Price Level 4 tickets remaining and those are expected to sell out.  Price Level 4 tickets are priced at $284.50 plus service fees (guess I'm going to have to adjust ticket prices on my 2014 Music Festival Calculator (Check out this post for an explanation).

For an fast path to the ticket website click here.

I made sure I was ready by 11:30am with three computers and my phone on the Bonnaroo website.  I have sat through festival website ticket marathons before, so I knew what was in store.  I sat through 1 hour and 22 minutes of waiting in queue, refreshing, DNS errors, HTML coding popping up, hour glasses and yelling at my computer(s) when it told me, "Sorry the items in your basket have expired".  There was a point where it even took me to Paypal where I thought I was locked in, to then just take me back to the website.  In the long run, I got tickets in the Price 3 range for my wife and I.  Once the receipt screen popped up I yelled in relief.   Now its time to countdown to June 12th!

Get it.

2014 Music Festival Calculator

2014 Music Festival Calculator

A tool every festival goer should have in their tool belts.

I started thinking about the negative posts I have been reading in the comments sections of articles that celebrate music festival lineup releases.  Every day I go out to my favorite sites, Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn Vegan and Rolling Stone, to see what is going on in the music world.  One of my favorite times of the year is lineup release season to get ramped up for summer festivals.  I constantly am checking my sites during this time to see how people are reacting to the release.  Alex Young from Consequence of Sound gave a great synopsis of the Bonnaroo lineup a couple days ago, providing detailed reasoning for his comments and thought it had the potential to be in his mind "Festival of the Year".  I then check the comments section of the review and it is nothing but people bashing the crap out of it because they don't agree with it.  I realized that there are so many different opinions of a festival because it is all subjective.  Nobody is ever right or wrong when it comes to their opinion of the review.  It is their own opinion and they have the right to have it.  Though I wanted to provide a more objective way of deciding which really is the best lineup.  I started to think, why not create something that provides the correct opinion based on data?  I then started tinkering around with an Excel Spreadsheet to put together some sort of a calculator to determine best festival.  I came up with a nifty little tool that may settle debates....or create more.  I call it the 2014 Music Festival Calculator and matches the festivals up against each other using a band scoring method that ranks Best Value, Best Quality and Best Depth Festival.  Unfortunately, I created it in Microsoft Excel and there is no easy way to upload an Excel doc to Blogger.  So I had to upload using Google Docs and it might be a little slow.  Let me know if you'd like the MS Excel version as I'd be happy to email it to you.  Check out the tool by clicking the link below. 

2014 Music Festival Calculator

Please let me know what you think.

Get it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gig Poster Thursday - A New Weekly Post!

Gig Poster Thursday

A new weekly post dedicated to one gig poster in my vast collection.  Gig posters are what keep a concert fresh in your memory.  Looking at a poster can bring me back to the day of that concert, what was going on in my life, where I was living, my excitement leading up to the show and most important provide me a vivid memory of the concert itself.  Gig poster forums are all over the web and I hope this post serves as the same type of "gallery" to appreciate the art on the poster.  However, I hope this post also gives almost a re-opening of a time capsule for myself and for those others that were at the same show.  The great thing about a gig poster is you do not have to be a fan of the band (although it helps) to appreciate the artwork.  You COULD be a fan of the band and that is why you like, you could be a fan of the artist who created the poster, but you could simply fall in love with the art itself on the poster.  Personally, my favorite posters bring me back to the very day of the concert and help keep me attached to those memories.

Show: The Black Keys - Milwaukee, WI @ Bradley Center - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Artist: Methane Studios

This poster reminds of a great year of music and album releases.  You had Jack White's Blunderbuss, Dr. Dog's Be The Void and of course The Black Keys El Camino.  The Black Keys toured hard in 2012 and 2013.  They hit every major city and mostly every major festival.  I saw them 4 times on that tour: at Chicago's United Center, Milwaukee's Bradley Center, Lollapalooza and Forecastle.  El Camino was produced to play every song in front of a concert audience.  Dan Auerbach had stated that several times.  Dan and Patrick kept it moving the whole set.  Ugh, I wish I could go back in time to sneak down to great seats and enjoy that moment again.  The Milwaukee show's poster was my favorite of those 4 shows and is in fact my favorite poster in my whole collection.  Methane Studios created this masterpiece.  I have seen a lot of their other work on and they are all worth framing.   I love the colors on this poster that blend perfectly over a bit of an off-white canvas.  The blue, yellow and black make the monkey head pop.  I love this guy.  The fez hat is what puts this above the rest of the posters in my collection.  What's better than a fez hat on anything?  Furthermore, what's better than a fez hat on a monkey?  Monkeys with fez hats.  Match made in gig poster heaven. 

Get it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bonnaroo Lineup Release Review

2014 Bonnaroo Lineup Release Review

Tuesday, February 19, 2014

Whoa.  Bonnaroo sure did go beyond the standard for the 2014 summer festival season.  They revealed the lineup in a two and a half hour primetime special.  The first two hours were loaded with lineup announcements over videos of previous acts performing cover songs  These were lower level bands which weren't all that bad (King Khan and the Shrines come to mind).  The show then kicked into high gear at 9pm when they started revealing the heavy hitters.  Here's my take on some of those.

 Vampire Weekend and Phoenix

Awesome.  I thought both might play Bonnaroo this year.  Neither were on the farm last year and played every other major festival over last summer.  This will probably be the last festival either plays for a few years because both have toured solid since releasing their albums around the same time in 2013.  Each has toured for a solid year and have with little break.  Seeing them play back to back, on the same stage last year at Lollapalooza put me in a trance.  Nice work by the Bonnaroo staff to grab both to hope and create the same dynamic. 

Jack White

Thank god.  It looks like Jack White will be returning to the summer festival scene after only a one year hiatus after owning the festival circuit in 2012.  This has to mean he will be coming out with an album soon.  This was the third festival booked this upcoming summer.   I missed him at Lollapalooza two years ago and will enjoy getting to see him for the first time, solo or with the White Stripes.  Yes, trust me I know.  Its the biggest regret of my concert going life never being able to see the White Stripes live.  Maybe a Lollapalooza 2014 reunion?  Eff, it'll never effing happen.

Avett Brothers

I dig the fact the Avett Brothers are getting top bill.  I have never seen them at a festival, but they really tear it up in a concert setting.  Looking forward to experiencing their festival chops for the first time.

Dr. Dog

This is my band at the moment.  Coming off of their latest release B-Room, I can see them gaining more mainstream exposure and really start to gain a heavier following.

Elton John and Lionel Ritchie

Bonnaroo does it again this year with some old timer acts that have a gazillion hits.  I am looking forward to catching Elton John for the first time ever.  I heard he amazing live and even a person that has no clue about music knows at least 3 Elton John songs.  I dig Lionel Ritchie's Commodores stuff, but unless their out there with him, I might pass.  I'd rather watch whatever other headliner rather than hearing "Helloooo, is it me you're looooking for."

Kanye West

Kanye West blows.

Hopefully I'll make it out to the farm this year.  This has the makings of being one the best lineups in the last 5 years. Thank god Outkast didn't further urinate all over another summer festival. Let's hope for good weather, good times and good tunes.  Get it.

Tickets go on-sale Saturday, 2/22 at 12pm EST.

Check out Consequence of Sound's Alex Young's review of the lineup:

Check out Brooklyn Vegan's highlights at

Concert Review #3 - Kings of Leon - Schottenstein Center, Columbus, Tuesday, 2.18.14

Concert Review #3

Kings of Leon - Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I headed down 71 South down to Columbus after work with Patty to check out Kings of Leon on the campus of Ohio State at the Schottenstein Center.  This was the second time seeing them for me.  The first time I saw them when it felt like they were the biggest band on the planet in 2008.  Back then it was after their album Only By The Night that had commercial success mainly off of the huge hits Sex on Fire and Use Somebody.  It felt like back then every radio station, commercial and talk show had their them on.  I haven't followed them as closely since back then, but I was way into them then.  It also feels like they've fallen off the map a bit.  They came out with Come Around Sundown in 2010, which didn't get much radio play (which no one listens to anymore anyway) or have much commercial success as its predecessor.  At the end of 2013, they came out with their latest Mechanical Bull.  I haven't listened to the album as much as Patty has, but it has a ton of great tunes.  The boys are looking to return to the spotlight again with this album and it has the hits to get them going again.

We got to Columbus and had to walk approximately 2 miles from the parking lot to the Schottenstein Center.  The amount of money Ohio State pulls in, you'd figure they could build a friggin' parking garage.  The show started at 7:30 and we got in around 8:00, which I was not happy about because another favorite act of mine, Gary Clark Jr. was opening up.  We caught the end of his set and at least one of my favorite songs of his, Bright Lights.  Gary shredded through the last few songs we saw.  The man can jam.

After GCJ, there was about a 45 minute intermission.  It was during this time that I noticed from the seat we snuck down to, that there were a boat load of seniors.  I guess that's what you get at an arena show.  People that get hot dogs, popcorn and sodas at a flippin' concert.  Hey dummy, eat at home, this isn't a ball game.  The lights went out and the Kings came on hard with Charmer off of Because Of The Times, behind a gigantic white sheet with an intense lighting and video display behind.  They intensely rattled through songs, mostly off of Only By The Night, Because Of The Times and Mechanical Bull.  Caleb Followill used his raspy gospel voice to belt out the high notes from newer hits Supersoaker and Beautiful War to old school hits True Love Way and On Call.  Little cousin Matthew shredded through chords and demanded presence on songs such as Pyro.  They weaved in and out of complete arena rock to ballads to old school garage in what was a 27 song setlist.  They left the stage before the encore with the crowd going nuts.  They came back and hammered through 3 more songs, Crawl, Black Thumbnail, and then ending with their biggest hit to date Sex on Fire.

The Kings of Leon still have it.  I'll be looking for them to play a festival or two this summer.  Hopefully they'll still be able to pull their weight as a main headliner.  If they play like they did tonight, then they deserve it.

2.Rock City
3.My Party 
5.On Call 
6.Family Tree 
8.The Immortals 
9.Back Down South 
10.Wait for Me 
15.Don't Matter 
17.The Bucket 
18.Molly's Chambers 
19.Four Kicks 
20.True Love Way 
21.Beautiful War 
22.Cold Desert 
23.Use Somebody 

26.Black Thumbnail 
27.Sex on Fire 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Brew Review - Grand Rapids Beer Trip

Saturday, 2/15/14 - Sunday, 2/16/14

Patty and I were going to drive to Asheville, NC this weekend because we both have Monday off.  Its an 8 hour drive from Cleveland .  But, it just so happens Asheville got hit by a snow and ice storm and the whole city was shut down.  We didn't want to waste the long weekend and we were convinced to make this a brewery weekend.  I posted two nights ago about going to Hoppin' Frog Brewery in Akron, Ohio on Friday.  We woke Saturday morning and decided to do a western Michigan beer trip.  We planned to go to Grand Rapids one night and Kalamazoo the next.  We went out to both last year, but went for one day and spent the night in Kalamazoo.  That was a pretty awesome trip because with got to visit both Founders Brewing and Bell's Brewing.  Probably the two most successful breweries in western Michigan.  There are so many other great breweries around the area though.  We wanted to spend time at the smaller spread about breweries. Grand Rapids has a higher quantity of breweries in its vicinity so we decided to head there for the night.

We left a bit late around 1pm, because we both just kind of moped around for a bit in the morning.  The drive was about a four and a half hours long and pretty boring.  Patty thankfully didn't fall asleep and kept me company on the way in.  We bypassed the city and headed directly to a Rockford, Michigan to a place called Rockford Brewing Company.

Rockford Brewing Company

This place was in a small, high-end shopping center tucked away along the river.  We walked up and saw the sign and were impressed.  Design and applying art to every facet of a brewery and its presentation is big for me.  The logo had a fishing fly and hook.  Michigan is big for fishing and hunting anything outdoors, so this logo is fitting.  The place was established in 2011 so it is fresh and new-feeling inside.  We observed the first floor, which had a sweet full bar and seating.  We then headed upstairs to see even more seating and another full bar.  We took a seat at one of the high tops by the bar.  I immediately liked the place because from the time we got there they were playing solid tunes.  Born Ruffians, Dan Auerbach and Dr. Dog the first three songs.  A bar with good tunes can add brownie points.  We had the following beers:

Blackfin Black IPA: Just ok.  It was great to have that first sip of the weekend though.
Hoplust IPA:  Hoppy as hell, but very tasty.

We also ordered some cheesy breadsticks which just came from a next door pizza place.  They were awesome though because we were starving from the drive and coated our stomachs for a long night of drinking.  I picked up a sweet tin sign from the place for $25.  I'm surprised more breweries don't have these.  The charged me $1 for a sticker though. C'mon...

Good beer overall and a really cool layout of taproom.  I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Harmony Brewing Company

Next we headed into Grand Rapids and checked out a smaller brewery / pizza joint, Harmony Brewing Company.  Pretty sweet layout inside this place.  It  had more of a feeling of being in a local dive bar than a nano brewery.  I wish we had not ate the breadsticks at Rockford Brewing because this place had some bangin' pizza that I saw coming out from the kitchen.  We posted up alongside a small beer rest ledge on some bar stools, with a clean view of the wood-burning pizza oven in the kitchen.  These guys were pumping out pizza after pizza and each look awesome.  As Patty got settled, I headed up to the bar and ordered our two beers. 

Daydream Believer:  6.9% ABV and a nice clean stout.  I was impressed that a small brewery like this had this good of a stout.
Fiddlestix IPA: 5.5% ABV and a pretty decent American IPA.  I think this is their flagship beer, but I've had better IPAs. 

Not much else went on at Harmony and we decided to roll to the next place, because although nice and quaint and cool because it was smaller, there isn't much room that I noticed just for beer drinkers if you're not eating.  The bar is right by the front door and those people waiting to be seated were taking up all of the stools.  We headed out to get even closer to downtown Grand Rapids.

Decent beer, but don't go here if you're looking to just grab a couple drinks.  This is definitely more of a restaurant.  However, very cool layout throughout.  I give it a 3 out of 5.

The Mitten Brewing Company

We drove another 10 minutes or so, not before stopping and getting a Red Bull at a gas station to keep us going through the night and headed over to The Mitten Brewing Company.  Now this was my kind of place.  It was in what appeared to be a historically preserved fire station.  Exposed brick and duct work throughout.  It had a baseball, specifically Detroit Tigers theme and although I'm a big Cleveland Indians fan, this was still cool in my book.  They had old Tigers Stadium in the lobby area to sit in while you're waiting for a table (or waiting for your husband to pull the car around because its brutally cold outside).  Old school baseball pictures and signs were throughout as well.  The main area was one big space - think fire station garage obviously.  I headed up the bar and the bartender was a pretty cool dude and looked pretty busy.  The bar was fairly small and was packed, but sweet looking.  I ordered our beers and some dude next to me with a Perrin Brewing (I'll get to this brewery in a bit) sweatshirt what I got.  He was with other dudes with Perrin Brewing sweatshirts who all appeared to be brewers from Perrin and had beard championship worthy mustaches.  I got the following:

Country Strong IPA: American IPA at 7.2%.  Nothing too memorable from this beer.  Just a standard IPA.
Eigthy-Four DIPA:  Imperial/Double IPA at 8.4%.  The name of this beer sticks with the Detroit Tigers theme (1984 was the year of their last World Series championship).  I thought this was a fantastic beer that had a perfect finish and great kick.

I told the Perrin dude what I got and it seemed like he approved.  Nice dude.  I get the feeling the other breweries in the area fully support each other and the great beer throughout Grand Rapids.  I brought our beers over to the corner in the back of the bar at a high top table Patty was waiting at.  We enjoyed, but nursed our beers a bit while watching the Olympics.  Although, we were spacing our beers out since we got there, I still wanted to get to our hotel and check in, so we could walk the rest of the night and really let loose.  We took in the rest of the setting of Mitten, I grabbed a souvenir pint glass (because the logo is sweet here) and took off. 

4 out of 5 for this place.

We checked in at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown Grand Rapids and got situated.  I suggest this hotel if you're staying in the heart of Grand Rapids because its centrally located and walkable from several breweries, great bars and restaurants.  We headed right up the street for a 5 minute walk to our next brewery.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company

When we walked into this place it was wall-to-wall people with terrible cover music blaring from a band in the back room.  I immediately thought this place was a cookie-cutter, riding in on the success of other local breweries coattails, downtown bar.  Its in a sweet looking old building and the bar was pretty huge a cool looking too.  We lucked out and grabbed some bar seats.  We took a look at the menu and grabbed a smoked Polish kielbasa to snack on because we hadn't had a real dinner.  I was ready to start hitting my groove with these beers because I knew I did not have to drive anymore. 

The Fishladder: American IPA at 7.5%.  This beer was gross.  I'm not sure if it was the beer or the bad lines that the beer came through, but it had that dive bar, stale nasty taste.  Awful.
1826 IPA: English IPA at 6.2%.  This was Patty's beer and I only had a few sips, but nothing even worth reviewing.

We finished our beers while trying to not yell to much over the terrible music and had our sausage that was just ok and needed some yellow mustard that I grabbed from behind the bar.  The bartenders were really nice here too and the bar itself was impressive.  It had carved out letters of the name of the brewery which was really ornate and cool. 

We needed to get the hell out of this place because we couldn't take the downtown bar feel.  We walked out and headed to our main destination in Grand Rapids.

Ranked at 1.5 out of 5, mostly because the actual bar was sweet looking and our bar tender was friendly.

Founders Brewing Company

We got into Founders around 11-11:30ish.  The place was packed, which I'm assuming it always is on a Saturday.  They had a band going I had never heard of called Afro Zuma.  This was a complete jam band with hippies dancing full out in front of the stage.  We got in line to grab beers at the end of the bar, which was about 10 people deep.  I asked Patty to hold the spot in line and instead walked down to the middle of the bar to grab a few beers.  I instantly got served, which was to my delight.  We ordered some standard beers that are distributed in Cleveland because I didn't see anything that popped out that was Founders taproom-only. 

All Day IPA: A session IPA with low ABV%  that I knew Patty could handle this late into the night.  This is a great beer for drinking all day as the title explains.
Red's Rye IPA: A rye IPA that is hoppy and bitter that I love.  This is one of my favorite beers to pick up at my local beer spot and I was thrilled to get it on tap from the source.

Afro Zuma is not really the type of music I'm into, but they were rocking out.  It was a twelve piece band, with a horn section, percussion section, a female backup singer and one intense lead singer.  This guy was in love with the music which the crowd fed off of.  The hippies were shoeless and grooving with their eyes closed, getting hypnotized by the jam session.  Pretty amusing and fun.  Patty let me know we had one more place to get to though before last call though.  I finished my beer and Patty had me finish the second half of hers because she was beered out at this point and we took off at around 1am and headed to our next destination.

Founders always gets a 5 out of 5 in my book.

Hop Cat

Hop Cat has one of the best beer selections in the city.  Now, since this was pretty late I had to take it easy on what beer I got.  We were also looking for some late night food which they had.  They have what appeared to be 50 tap handles, including their own beers along with other local selections.  Very sweet layout here.  Old school dark lacquered bar and tables throughout.  The bar was the focal point of this place and was huge.  We ordered some late night tacos and wings and I got a beer, while Patty opted for a Pepsi because she was done for.

Zugspitze: Hefeweizen that was insanely good and a great easing into the end of the night beer.  It was so good I had two.

We enjoyed our late night food and watched some Olympic curling and hockey.  I was about spent for the night and we took it to the last call, so it was time to head back to the hotel.  Its also the reason I have a short explanation of our time there because it was a bit fuzzy at this point.

Hop Cat gets a 4.5 out of 5.

We crashed hard and I woke up a bit dehydrated as you would imagine.  I decided we needed a nice hearty breakfast, so I Googled best breakfast spots in Grand Rapids.  It just so happens a place that was voted best breakfast in Michigan on some 2013 poll was 12 minutes from our hotel.  It was called Anna's Place

Besides from waiting a bit for our food, this place was awesome.  I got the Huevos Rancheros with Carnitas, Patty got the western scramble and we shared the crème brule french toast.  This put us into an early coma, but we still had two more breweries to hit before we headed home and the first one was only 6 minutes up the road.

Hideout Brewing Company

This place was tucked away at the end of a drive that had a bunch of condos.  We walked in and the name fits it perfectly.  It was a Sunday afternoon lunch crowd so pretty low key.  Our bartender was knowledgeable and looked like she was exhausted being the only bartender staffed.  She was taking care of business though.  I walked around the bar a bit, which had an upstairs almost loft type area with a few TVs, dart board and every old school video game system you could think of which was sick.  NES, Atari, Super NES, Playstation 1, N64, Gamecube along with games for each.  Pretty sick to play old school video games while drinking awesome beer.  I didn't get to play though because some doofuses were watching the Michigan basketball game on the TVs.

We ordered a flight here to try and maximize our visit.  They had about 35 of their own beers on tap which was insane.  I'll try to highlight our tasters the best I can.

Smuggler's Hazelnut Stout: Simple, easy drinking stout at 5.6% ABV. The bartender told us this was one of their most popular.  I thought it was pretty good.
Grapefruit Rye Pale Ale:  Pale ale at 6.5%.  This was what the name says, very grapefruity with a rye taste.
Sour Pale Ale: 6.5% ABV.  One word: gross.
Cinnamon Porter: 7% ABV.  This was pretty decent and I love cinnamon, so this probably was my favorite of the flight.
Belgian Quad: 13.2% ABV.  This Belgian was super strong but delightful, probably my second favorite of the flight.

We enjoyed our beers, which I made Patty drink most of because I had to drive 4.5 hours home later on.  I asked to buy a small taster glass with the Hideout logo when we were leaving and the bartender was nice enough to say, don't worry about go ahead a just grab one.  Nice gal.

3.5 out of 5 from me.

We headed over to the final brewery on the trip about 15 minutes away.

Perrin Brewing Company

This place was legit.  It was a huge complex with emphasis on design.  I read this article on the owner, Randy Perrin and how he plays close attention to aesthetics to something as small as using old school cans and have simple names for the beers.  The brewery itself had a beautiful layout and was big and wide open.  It reminded me of an Oktoberfest type setting.  As we walked in Patty grabbed a weight on the shuffleboard and started tossing down to the end of the board.  She didn't realize these other folks were still playing and were just observing her every move.  She giggled and apologized after she realized they were watching.  I was happy I caught her in the act too.  I walked around a bit and they have a great place here.  An upstairs for small parties decked out with two dining tables and chandeliers, a chowing area that reminded me of a food truck setup, that had a window to order food and picnic tables to eat at and full windows to view into the actual brewery where the kettles were.  I was truly impressed.  Our bartender with a nice full beard (This is not very descriptive because they all had nice full beards) took our order - one water for Patty and the following:

Rye of the Liger: A rye beer with a bitter aftertaste.  Very tasty.  Nothing really that set it apart from the several other beers I had all weekend though.

I sipped on my beer and Patty sipped on her water as we watched more Olympic hockey.  I finished it up and was ready to make the long drive home.  I took in the scenery too and gave it a ranking of 4 out of 5. The bartenders were all really nice here too, thanking us for choosing their brewery to visit all the way from Cleveland.  They had nothing to thank us for, because I should have thanked them for putting together this impressive brewery in an impressive city:

Grand Rapids, Michigan - What the locals call Beer City, U.S.A.


Grand Rapids Brewery Info

Beer Advocate: I researched my brewery locations basically all on Beer Advocate:

My Rankings:
  1. Founders Brewing Company - 5/5
  2. Hop Cat - 4.5/5
  3. Perrin Brewing Company - 4/5
  4. Mitten Brewing Company - 4/5
  5. Hideout Brewing Company - 3.5/5
  6. Rockford Brewing Company - 3.5/5
  7. Harmony Brewing Company - 3/5
  8. Grand Rapids Brewing Company - 1.5/5
Mapped out: I would visit the breweries on the out-skirts of town first like I did and then pick a downtown centrally located hotel to walk to the ones in downtown so you don't need to drive all over the place after sampling all the great beer.

Thanks Grand Rapids!