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Breakfast Empanadas and 24 Hours in Grand Rapids Beer City USA

Breakfast Empanadas and 24 Hours in Grand Rapids Beer City USA


I stood, unprepared, in what was rapidly becoming a snowstorm outside the gates of an outdoor beer festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On a day that locals swore would be met with “spring like weather,” only to have the weather Gods laugh in the face of anyone naïve enough to believe that (me), with howling winds and quickly expanding snow banks. Although the natives hardly seemed to notice the sub zero temperatures, I shivered in my thin, ripped jeans, and shoes there weren’t even enough to keep my feet dry. I had a choice to make. After all, I was only gifted a little more than 24 hours in this fine city, and I needed to make the most of it.

I left. I left the festival, the lines, the tents, the pretzel necklaces, and mini tasting mugs. I left to find the beer. I left to formulate an agenda for those who want to squeeze as much as they can out of Beer City, USA in just one day.

Start on the outskirts, work your way into the city.

First stop:

Perrin Brewing. Perrin is under the same ownership as Cigar City and Oskar Blues, and with a water purification system so advanced they are the only location authorized to brew both Dales Pale Ale and Jai Alai, exciting for those who have yet to sample those classic brews. With a line up of impressive beer all their own, and a staff as friendly as you’d hope for in the Mid West, this is spot that’s worth the drive.

Address: 5910 Comstock Park Drive Comstock Park, MI 49321

Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11am – 11pm, Friday – Saturday: 11am – Midnight, Sunday: Noon – 8pm

Food: Full menu

What to drink:

  • PYP Chocolate Bock
  • 98 Problems
  • Kingdom of Tonga
  • You Bretta Run

Second Stop:

Greyline Brewing. Greyline is small but mighty, with a respectable line up of solid beer. The people are friendly and the beer is good, more than worth the trip over to the tap room for a pint or two.

Address: 1727 Alpine Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Hours: MON-SAT: 11 am- Midnight SUN: 11am-10pm

Food: Appetizers and sandwiches

What to drink:

  • Mosacca
  • Kona Brown


Third Stop:

The Mitten Brewing. The Mitten is what you want when you’re weary and in need of friendly staff, a cozy space, and sustenance. Craft beer and pizza in a restored Victorian-era firehouse creates a vibe that makes you want to hang out all day, and into the night.


Address: 27 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 12pm to 10pm, Friday-Saturday: 12pm to 11pm

Food: Pizza

What to drink:

  • Triple Crown Brown
  • The Stretch Cream Ale
  • Country Strong IPA


Fourth Stop

Tired yet? I hope now, we’re not even close to being done! Of all the location in Grand Rapids, The Knickerbocker, New Holland Brewing’s pub, is the Don’t Miss stop. It’s not just a gorgeous space, the food menu is quite possibly some of the best food I’ve ever had at a brewpub, and the beer, of course, is fantastic.

Address: 417 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 11:00 am – 12:00 am, Friday – Saturday, 11:00 am –1:00 am, Sunday, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm

Food: A full menu, with very impressive food 

What to drink:

  • Dragon’s Milk
  • Any variation of Dragon’s Milk
  • Hoptronix


Fifth Stop

Founders Brewing. It’s impossible to travel all the way to Beer City, USA and not stop in to this iconic pub for a pint. Founders is one of the most well known, and well respected, breweries in Grand Rapids. You’ll have to battle the crowds of beer fan boys who travel from the outer reaches of the world for a Dirty Bastard, but it’ll be worth it.


Address: 235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11am to 2am, Sunday: 12pm to 12am

Food: Full menu


What to drink:

  • Nitro Breakfast Stout
  • Watermelon Gose
  • Grease Monkey IPA

Last Stop

Brewery Vivant. When enlisting the help of locals, friends, and random internet people, this was the brewery that came up most often. This was hands down the most recommended place in all of Grand Rapids. With a gorgeous space, housed in a refurbished historic funeral home, dare-I-say elegant food, and beautiful crafted beer, it’s easy to see why.

Address: 925 Cherry St, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Hours: Mon-Thurs: 3pm-11pm, Fri: 3pm-midnight, Saturday: 11am-midnight

Food: Full menu

What to drink:

  • Paris
  • Tree Bucket
  • Stone Fruit Sour

I also made you a recipe. Because I do that sort of thing. I was inspired by the breakfast empanadas I fell in love with at San Chez.

Breakfast Empanadas

Servings 12 -14 empanadas



  • 3 cups 350g Masa Harina (corn flour)
  • 1 cup 120g all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon 6g salt
  • 1 cup 235g warm water
  • 1 cup 235g wheat beer (or pale ale, or pilsner)
  • 2 tbs 32g oil


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ lbs 1 large, or two small red potatoes, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 8 wt ounces sausage raw, removed from casing
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 oz cheddar cheese grated
  • Canola oil for frying


  • Add the masa, flour, water, beer, and oil to a bowl, stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too wet, add additional flour. The consistency should be similar to Play-Doh. Cover the bowl and allow to rest while you prepare the filling.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the potatoes and bell pepper until softened, about ten minutes. Remove from skillet, set aside.
  • Add the sausage, cooking until browned, breaking up into small pieces.
  • Remove from heat, add to the potatoes and red peppers, toss to combine.
  • Form dough into balls about the size of golf balls.
  • One at a time place between two sheets of parchment paper (parchment works better than plastic wrap, the dough removes more easily) and using either a tortilla press or a rolling pin, press/roll into 6 inch circles.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center, top with a pinch of cheddar cheese. Using the parchment, fold over the dough to form a crescent shape. Peel back the parchment and press the dough to seal the edges. Repeat for all dough balls.
  • Add about 2 inches of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until hot.
  • A few at a time, fry the empanadas until golden brown, turning over halfway through cooking, about 3 minutes on each side.
  • Allow to drain on a stack of paper towels.

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Heather Hunt March 21, 2017 um 3:25 am

You didn’t mention KBS from Founders. Wow, it’s incredible.


Christopher Sorel March 21, 2017 um 4:57 am

Love Perrin Brewery some of the best beers in GR. Then New Holland long time favorite. Did you have fav?


Jackie March 21, 2017 um 9:30 am

Those were my favorite! I really loved Perrin, the beer was exceptional. At New Holland they brought me 8 varieties of Dragons Milk and a bunch of food, so I was VERY happy. Also very happy that I wasn’t driving 🙂


Christiane March 21, 2017 um 4:58 am

Reading your article, makes me want to hop on a plane and head up to Grand Rapids and have some great beers!!


Alicia Kahle March 21, 2017 um 6:50 am

Can you substitute for corn flour for anything ?


Jackie March 21, 2017 um 8:42 am

Not really. They wouldn’t be empanadas. Masa Harina is sold in most grocery stores with the Mexican food.


Bud March 21, 2017 um 8:21 am

I’m guessing that 8wt of sausage in the recipe is supposed to be 8oz?


Jackie March 21, 2017 um 8:41 am

stands for "weight ounces" instead of fluid ounces. They sound the same, but have no real relation to each other, other than the weight and volume of water.


Mike Sorosky March 21, 2017 um 8:59 am

Hello Jackie,
1 quick question, In the directions for the breakfast empanadas I am assuming the beer is added in with flour and masa. I love your recipes and not only make many of them but I also share with friends and family. Keep them coming!


Jackie March 21, 2017 um 9:14 am

yes it does! Thanks so much 🙂


Sara March 21, 2017 um 11:24 am

I live in San Francisco and tried a limited edition raspberry Belgian ale from Founder’s at some random bar almost a year ago. I STILL think about it and was devastated to learn they haven’t released it since 2015 and have no plans to do so again!! D: But what a great brewery.

These empanadas look killer- I never would have thought about adding beer to the dough. Can’t wait to make them!


Jackie March 21, 2017 um 1:45 pm

Was it Rübæus? It’s a great beer, hard to find on the West Coast, but still in distribution. They also made a version called Blushing Monk, that I think isn’t made anymore. Was that it?


Sara March 22, 2017 um 10:17 am

Yes Blushing Monk!! Just the best.


Vincent March 22, 2017 um 5:07 am

Belated welcome to the West Mitten! I’m sure you realize this, but you’ve barely scratched the surface and you didn’t even get out of Grand Rapids! There are fine breweries and pubs all over Michigan, though I am partial to the lakeshore since that’s where I grew up and currently live. Aside from GR, Kalamazoo, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, and many of the smaller towns in the area have had breweries spring up in the last few years, including my hometown of Whitehall/Montague (which also has a meadery!)

The Michigan Brewer’s Guild listing of breweries and brewpubs – – currently shows 232 statewide.

You just missed (Bell’s) Oberon Day, which for many west Michiganders is the real herald of spring.

Next time you’re here bring your Triumph, as well. There’s not much technical riding, but the scenic ride up along the western Lakeshore is spectacular, especially in the Traverse City area (M22 and M119 – the Tunnel of Trees) are Epic Rides. That’s best left for days when there’s none of that white stuff flying about, though.


Elizabeth March 27, 2017 um 12:43 pm

So glad you had a good time! I wonder if we were at San Chez at the same time! (I live in GR and was hosting some friends in town for the fest.)

I’ll have to pass on that you liked the food at New Holland – my coworker’s husband is the corporate chef! (I live about 2 blocks from the brewery.)


Jackie March 27, 2017 um 1:51 pm

I had a great time! Wish I had more time, but I will be back. And the food at New Holland is great!


Dale March 27, 2017 um 4:53 pm

Great article and an even better brewery list. My wife and I hit 11 breweries in 2 days. Only living 2 hours away from GR, I often ask myself why I don’t get there more often. In Late March, Perrin released their iconic No Rules Vietnamese Porter. It is a must drink beer from them. My only regret of our weekend is I didn’t bother looking and the food menu at Brewery Vivant. I’m often reminded of my poor choice every time I see their Instagram posts of their amazing dishes.


Jackie March 28, 2017 um 9:22 am

Vivant food is fantastic, That’s a great reason to go back!


cakespy April 1, 2017 um 9:00 am

What a delicious tour!! I have never been to Grand Rapids but it sounds like there are plenty of tasty and tipsy reasons to make it a destination.


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