Posted in Brewery Series

Michigan Brewery Series – Grand River Brewing

Grand River Brewing  is located in downtown Jackson Michigan along the bank of the Grand River. They opened for business in June of 2013 and have been one of my favorite places ever since.  Recently, they opened a second location in Marshall Michigan.

Prior to the Grand River Brewery, John Burtka had both a Brewery, and a separate Wine Tasting Room in the Parma area outside of Jackson and a Winery in Brooklyn.  When leases were due to be renewed, he decided to do some research and found there were a couple of suitable sites that would bring him into Jackson proper.  After careful consideration he chose a location that would put him right in the downtown area.  It’s really a great location.

The building he selected once housed several businesses and needed considerable work.  John took that building and started to turn his Public House vision into a reality.  He did a complete remodel of the building creating a large common space,  a private room for hosting large events, and areas for brewing and distilling.

The Burtka family still operates their Cherry Creek Winery near Brooklyn while the Grand River site combined the old Parma area beer and wine businesses plus added a distillery.  Trifecta!

The Pub has a Steam Punk theme with great wall murals and artistic elements like the Edison Era style lamp (below).

 The Small Batch Brew Board is the first place I look.  Gotta see what’s New!

Since opening they have added a patio seating area and a beer garden.

At the time that they began the process of creating this site, quite simply, things were dying in Jackson.  John told me that around the same time he started the Grand River remodel, the city received some grant money for revitalization. The timing of those two projects happening together helped breathe some life into this old town.  Since then, countless buildings have been upgraded downtown, new buildings have been built, and several other new businesses have opened up here as well.  Downtown Jackson is alive and well today and John is looking forward to his next endeavor.

Since they started distilling premium spirits, they have become know for making some of the best craft cocktails in the area.   They recently collaborated with musician Neil Giraldo in creating Three Cord Bourbon. A blended bourbon whiskey enhanced using tonal vibrations.


My husband and I often meet on Fridays at Grand River to share a pint and a bite to kick off the weekend. The staff are friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming. I usually know the servers by name.  I love that they always have new beer varieties to try, but still always offer their great Flagship beers like their award-winning Monkey Mouth IPA, Lake Rat American Ale or the 313 Polish Lager.  Some of my favorite seasonal beers at Grand River are Planet Basil, Pepino Loco and Bloody Knuckles.  I also quite enjoy a Monkey Tail cocktail which is their Monkey Mouth IPA blended with the house Gin.  Divine!

One of their current seasonals is Pumpkin Grind, which is a pumpkin porter.  A perfect fall beer with both depth and spice.  Recently I tried Hop Ramen  one of their really creative small batch beers made with a light ale, and a blend of spices that created a ramen noodle flavor.  You may scratch your head, but I tried it and I liked it.  You really have to try the small batch stuff when you are visiting microbreweries.  That’s what makes it fun.

Their Food Menu  changes quarterly to reflect the season.  The fries at Grand River are the best around.  They make them in the Belgian style, frying them twice.  You can get them in several different ways.  Chronic Fries with Rosemary, Bacon and a balsamic reduction, Poutine with cheese curds and gravy ( you can also get add-ons like pulled pork or applewood smoked bacon), or just a plain pint-o-fries. They have plenty of other delicious appetizers,  sandwiches, dinner entrees, and a wood fired oven that pumps out some tasty pizzas.

When you walk by the Brewery, you can often smell the smoker out back making brisket, pork, ribs and chicken wings.  Ingredients for their menu are sourced locally whenever possible.  If you order dinner, expect a large portion of a chef inspired dish that will fill your belly and satisfy your palate.  You can really taste the quality and care that goes into their food.

Grand River Brewery hosts Live Music, Themed Dinners, Sunday Brunches (complete with a Bloody Mary Bar) and tons more fun events.  It is definitely someplace that you should visit.  Not only do they have a lot to offer, if you stop by, maybe you will catch us sitting at one of the high tops enjoying a beer.


A special thanks to John Burtka for letting me pop into his office for a quick interview and tour.  Much appreciated!