Grand River Brewery in Jackson, Michigan

Grand River Brewery lures you in with the trifecta! A brewery, distillery, and winery all under one roof. However, the eatery’s scratch-made kitchen has me yearning for more. The fresh local ingredients, treated with traditional cooking techniques make all the difference.

Location: Grand River Brewery located in downtown Jackson, at 117 West Louis Glick Highway, Jackson, Michigan.

Menu: The menu is a modern take on classic pub fare done exceptionally well. Of course, there’s pizza to go with the brewery’s beer, but you’ll also find complete entrees ranging from southern barbeque to international cuisine. Soups and salads, sandwiches and wraps round out the menu.

Thoughts: Our casually dressed server greeted us with, “What beer would you like to sample today?” The offer of complimentary beer samples ensures you have the perfect beer to accompany your meal. The same level of service continues as a team of servers swoops down and clears your plates and empty glasses as they pass.

The décor is a steampunk motif of warm colors; think a cross between Willy Wonka and Mad Max, adds to the celebratory atmosphere.

You’ll find pizzas baked in the wood-fired pizza oven. While there are the typical pizzas, like pepperoni or pizza Marguerite, there are also some unusual ones. They requested customers to provide their best pizza ideas with a chance to have it added to the menu. The winner was this atypical off-the-chart pizza made from Béchamel, caramelized fennel, butternut squash, diced red onions, goat cheese, and parmesan. Topped with fresh fennel, red pepper flakes, and dried fennel.

A couple of my favorite dishes are the nachos and the hot pastrami sandwich. The simple nachos are a work of art. Layers of house-smoked barbeque settle between corn tortilla chips topped with melted white cheddar cheese. Choose either the 12-hour smoked pork or the 18-hour smoked beef brisket. Black beans,  a smoke-forward Pico de Gallo, and crema in a beautiful grid design add color. Finally, it’s all topped off with scallions.

The chef smokes the meats and bakes the bread in-house. He serves all of the sandwiches on Jewish rye bread or brioche buns. Both the meat and bread make the BBQ Pastrami Sammy rank as one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. It’s a hot pastrami sandwich with a firm golden brown sear on the Jewish rye bread. The provolone cheese melted over the house-smoked pastrami and then sandwiched between roasted red peppers and arugula. The condiments included the Grand River Brewery barbeque sauce and a jalapeno aioli.

On Saturdays and Sundays, make yourself a Bloody Mary at the Bloody Mary bar until 2 p.m. There’s a wide array of toppings, including crispy house-smoked bacon, celery, asparagus, and olive skewers.

Grand River Brewery has a variety of international fare. Jasmine rice, coconut milk, red peppers, red onions, mushrooms, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cashews, carrots, and Asian herbs complete the spicy Thai curry bowl. The Jaeger Schnitzel entrée comes with spaetzle, bacon sauerkraut, mushroom, bacon, caramelized onion, and Jaeger sauce. Swiss chard, mushrooms, bacon, and lemon caper butter accompany the grilled Indian brook trout.

Sustainability is an important theme at Grand River Brewery. To accomplish their commitment to local, most of the restaurant’s food comes from within 75 miles of the restaurant. They even have their own organic farm where they grow vegetables for the restaurant. They use only Michigan grown hops in their beer and Michigan grapes in their wines. Only Michigan grown apples and cherries make it into their hard ciders.
Grand River Brewery reduces waste by recycling all of the kitchen’s food waste. Also, they recycle spent grain to make the restaurant’s bread. The remainder of the spent grain feeds cattle at a local farm.

Price Range: There’s something on the menu to fit any budget. Appetizers range from $7 for the Bavarian pretzels to $20 for a barbeque sampler. The pizzas range from $10 for a cheese pizza to $15 for the meaty brisket pizza. The appetizers and pizzas are shareable. Entrees range from $13 for mac and cheese to $25 for the smoked St. Louis ribs.

For Pinterest:

The barbeque pulled pork nachos are a work of art.

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Amy Piper

Amy Piper is a freelance food and travel writer. She writes about food and multi-generational travel on her blog Follow the Piper. You can follow her on Twitter @amythepiper.

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