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Transformations: Beers and Buildings

Transformations require a catalyst of some kind, something to kickstart the process to take the original and make it new. Transformation is a key concept in brewing and has always been important to Grand River Brewery, especially because we had to transform the building that houses us in order to operate! This week’s blog post is about the renovations GRB went through and the changes that were met by the surrounding town and community of Jackson, Michigan.

Founded in 2013 as “Grand River Marketplace,” Grand River Brewery took a historic downtown building over 85 years old and transformed it from top to bottom. Removing the graffiti was a project all of its own, but certainly so was installing new floors, windows, electrical, lighting, a 15 barrel brew house, a column vodka still, a pizza oven, and more. The building had gone through a lot of changes already, having originated in the 1930s as a municipal bus garage and eventually becoming a strip mall before its abandonment. After its subsequent saving, it’s now a central hub in Jackson, Michigan. Two years into the project, Grand River Marketplace became Grand River Brewery, and the rest is a flurry of busy history!

With the transformation of the GRB building and the tremendous amount of effort put into making GRB a hometown brewery that is an homage to the old public houses also came the revitalization of Jackson, MI. A gathering place for everyone, Grand River Brewery brought attention back to the downtown area, which is now a thriving metropolis with many options for food, drink, and more. Prior to GRB’s opening, much of the commercial property in downtown Jackson was dormant, waiting for that catalyst to come in and spark a change. Walking around downtown Jackson now is like walking around a different city entirely; over the years this transformation brought together a thriving, diverse, and enriching community.

It wasn’t an easy path getting Grand River Brewery to where it is today, and the same can be said for the city of Jackson, but it has been a rewarding experience for all those involved. With the eventual renovation of the kitchen, which included electrical, flooring, plumbing, and a new food line, GRB started to work to not only cater to the community at large but the community of our staff by providing a place where people want to work. Every day, we are doing what we love at GRB and that is really what drives the atmosphere we’ve worked so hard to create. With the training programs we use at Grand River Brewery, we take as much pride and investment in the development of our staff as we did with the development of the building and community surrounding it.

This atmosphere of community and acceptance abounds in the brewery from the moment you walk in the doors. Always busy, always serving smiling faces, Grand River Brewery welcomes everyone with open arms. What started as a dream to re-make a public house eventually became reality, and suddenly GRB was the place to host all kinds of community events, from political gatherings to weddings to fundraisers. It’s this deep involvement with the community combined with a caring and diverse staff that makes GRB such a welcoming place to be.

Working to create an atmosphere of home, the Grand River Brewery management team is always staying in touch with the needs of the community. Our ideas, our roots, our flavors, all are based in the desire to serve the community of Jackson and Michigan more largely. It’s this care and concern that keeps our beer flowing, keeps us busy, and keeps us happy. Cheers, and here’s to transformations and new beginnings!

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