The following guest post is written by the one, the only, Joe “Carlos” Hinman.
Everyone knows that Michigan is one of the best beer states in the country. It’s a veritable beer Mecca. While there are plenty of must-see breweries spread throughout the state, enough to make for a week long trip, there’s a mostly unspoken way to experience Michigan beer: by sticking to one area and hitting the smaller places, the brewpubs and small production breweries that are popping up on an almost daily basis. Arguably the best place to do this is in Grand Rapids, which is not only home to Founders but also home to six other breweries and, opening soon, Michigan’s first co-op brewery. The one you should hit first (and several time after that) is The Hideout.
The Hideout is aptly named, tucked away in the northeast corner of the city near some apartment buildings and West Michigan’s Fox affiliate. Designed as a pre-prohibition local brewery, the atmosphere is a mix of neighborhood bar and ski lodge. I don’t think the second part is intentional but it’s always the vibe I’ve gotten, and I mean that in a very good way. It’s the type of bar you can go to on a Saturday and not have to shout over the noise all night. You’ll always find a seat and a drink, and maybe everyone will yell “Norm!” when you walk in.
The bar seats a good number of people and there are a handful of high tops on the first floor, all the seats usually occupied by the same people. Upstairs there are darts and shuffleboard, along with a big screen TV that’s usually playing anything but sports. Upstairs is also where they store grain for brewing, which I think is awesome. Out back is a beautiful patio and beer garden, along with a horseshoe pit. Horseshoes and beer is really a great combination, however dangerous it might turn out to be. There’s no kitchen but they do have free popcorn and a handful of snacks, and they also allow outside food. I recommend getting Mr. Pizza; it’s on the way to the brewery. The Hideout nails the neighborhood brewery aesthetic, from the décor to the service and, most importantly, to the beer.
Their setup is much like ours here at Greenbush in that it’s a large, labor-intensive version of a homebrew set-up. The 5-barrel brewing system is a mix of repurposed tanks and old school methods, and the fermentation is done in homemade 55 gallon containers. This, I imagine, is soon to be amped up (or maybe already has been), as a new owner plans to increase production like crazy. But the spirit will still remain and The Hideout will continue to turn out quality hand-crafted brews. Their size allows them to experiment as much as they feel like, so the menu always has something different to offer. My personal favorites, as far as staples go, are the hazelnut stout and the Oktoberfest. They also have a killer imperial stout and a solid black IPA.
The future is bright for The Hideout and maybe soon you won’t have to go all the way to Grand Rapids to experience it, but just because you don’t have to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. You would be missing out if you only had their beer from a bottle. It’s the kind of place that you make the special trip to, even if you have some in your fridge or even if it’s a little out of the way. Craft beer is a thriving, growing industry. The Hideout is following suit, but it will always have the appeal and heart of your friendly neighborhood brewery.