GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Joined by members of the Grand Rapids community, New Holland Brewing Company (NHB) cut the ribbon for their new restaurant, brewhouse, and distillery, located at 417 Bridge St. NW. The Knickerbocker opened to the public on Thursday, September 15, at 11 a.m. It is named after Dutch settlers and reflects NHB’s journey to the West Side of Grand Rapids and the company’s ongoing thirst for adventure and exploration of all things craft from its menu items, to the beer and spirits choices, and unique space.
“The heritage of the Dutch settlers, the West Side’s deeply-rooted history of craftsmanship, and our intent to invest heavily in the community inspired us to truly create a space that is sustainable and unique in all aspects from the design, the beer and spirits, and the menu choices,” said Brett VanderKamp, president and co-founder, New Holland Brewing.
The Knickerbocker presents a rustic, seasonal menu showcasing local and regional agriculture, old world techniques with a fresh perspective; including nose to tail butchery, heirloom produce and scratch cooking over fire. Several menu items are inspired by the cultural heritage of the city’s West Side.
“We’re offering old world traditions with a fresh, current look at how to present them,” said Dale Beaubien, NHB executive chef. “Think balkenbrij, galumpkis, and smoked kielbasa incorporated with rustic, seasonal flavors that we can capture because of our on-site butchery and kitchen, which is really a dream come true for anyone in the food service industry.”
NHB’s kitchen houses a 400-pound capacity Southern Pride Smoker and a Woodstone fired oven that can be seen from the main dining room. As part of the project, NHB incorporated an expansive basement area that includes a 1,500 square-foot, 28+ keg cooler, which will allow New Holland to put both beer and spirits on tap. The basement also includes space for food preparation and butchery. The Knickerbocker will also provide full catering services.
Behind the scenes, The Knickerbocker’s brewery has a 3-vessel 10 BBL system, with six fermenters and four serving brites. The two distilling units will allow NHB’s staff to create new and exploratory recipes and focus more on the company’s award-winning artisan spirits, specifically its gin program.
“We are going to try new flavors, new methods, and really take advantage of this space,” said Joel Petersen, NHB vice president of marketing. “Some of the beer won’t even be kegged—we have a line that goes straight from the tanks to the bar to provide our guests with the freshest beer possible.”
The 40,000 square-foot full-service facility allowed NHB to design their dream space. Rockford Construction partnered with NHB to build the facility, which was designed by Grand Rapids based architectural design firm FTC&H. Studio Wise, a Grand Rapids design and production firm, created unique elements throughout the facility.
“Rockford is extremely proud to be a part of welcoming Brett and his team to the West Side. His love for this neighborhood is evident in the thoughtful design, quality materials, and jobs that he has created at The Knickerbocker. This is a place that will welcome neighbors and visitors for generations,” stated Mike VanGessel, CEO, Rockford Construction.
The four-story beer hall known as “The Trees” is lined with five, 32-foot modern tree-like sculptures with 7-foot wide tree trunks crafted to look like they are one with the booths below. The winding branches, which are hung across the ceiling to form a canopy above the entire room, are 27-feet long and were made with 150,000 feet of twine.
“The general concept of tree trunks and the “branch-like” canopy in the beer hall initially came from FTC&H,” said Studio Wise’s Lead Designer, Troy Bosworth. “We then started to envision what these trunks and branches could look like, what they should be made from, how they would be engineered, and finally constructed.”
The beer hall, which connects to the outdoor beer garden, includes a walk-up bar, family style seating, and an outdoor stage for entertainment.
The facility’s open layout allows customers utilizing the beer garden to view the brewery, distillery, and mezzanine-level spaces. The mezzanine level houses a speakeasy-designed bar, known as the “Zeppelin Cocktail Lounge”. It will feature a deep and creative cocktail menu, which utilizes many small batch spirits that NHB has created over its decade of distilling. Several other private spaces are available to rent for any occasion.
“We have recognized the growing need for private event spaces in Grand Rapids, the industry is really booming,” said Petersen. “The Knickerbocker’s spaces can accommodate intimate parties of 10 to larger groups such as wedding receptions or corporate events from 12-250 people. We’re extremely diverse.”
Those interested in reserving space for events should contact Hannah Nyboer by phone, 616-510-2267, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.