By Garret Ellison — The state’s third largest microbrewery could soon be opening a new brewpub in Grand Rapids. Although nothing has been signed yet, New Holland Brewing Co. president Brett VanderKamp confirmed that the company is scouting locations in the "greater downtown" Grand Rapids area for a new brewery location similar to the company's Eighth Street Pub in Holland.
VanderKamp, who founded New Holland with former partner Jason Spaulding in 1996, has had his eye on a location in Grand Rapids for "a number of years," he said. "We feel connected to Grand Rapids and feel that it's important for us to have a storefront there."
"We've had deals come close in the past," he said, but the company ultimately decided to pursue other investments. "On our end, it just wasn't right due to our team and where we were at." This time around, "everything's really coming together for us." VanderKamp said he is currently narrowing the location between “two or three" spots.
The restaurant would be similar to the brewery’s popular pub in downtown Holland, a full-service restaurant that serves artisan liquors and the company's beer, which is brewed at the pub's onsite system, and the larger Holland Township production facility.
Grand Rapids "would be more than just beer," he said, although details on the scope of the location are still being finalized. "A little more focus on food." The location does not have a formal name yet, but would be a New Holland-branded location. “It'll be a real, physical brewery.”
The location is planned for open in 2013, and VanderKamp said he's hoping to have more details formalized by the end of the year, but that could be delayed by the holiday season. "There's still a lot of stuff in play."
New Holland undertook a $3 million expansion of the production facility this year, adding five new large, outdoor fermentation tanks due to "exponentially" increasing demand for their high-gravity stout, Dragon's Milk. The new tanks will allow the company to reach 50,000 barrels of beer per year, said VanderKamp.
The new location is "something that's been on our radar for many years," he said. "We think we have something to offer that would be unique to the Grand Rapids market."