HOLLAND, MI – Beer is good in so many ways, and one West Michigan brewery has made it even better. Big Lake Brewing has been busy brewing up all sorts of special beers over the past few months, inspiring hope while donating thousands of dollars, one can of ale at a time.
“My love letter is for Big Lake Brewing in Holland,” said reader Angela Burch. “The company has consistently given back to its community throughout the pandemic. They’ve done this with specialty beers and donations to help those who need it most.”
The shout-out for Big Lake Brewing was submitted as part of our Love Letters to Michigan restaurants initiative. We asked readers for their favorite locally-owned places that are consistently generous with their food, their time, their money or their talents. The places that always step up to donate, the spots that are always first to offer to help a charity or a cause, the restaurants that quietly make sure that someone hungry gets a welcome meal. They might have delicious, mouth-watering food, too, but this isn’t a search for the best pizza or chicken wings. It’s a search for those restaurants whose hearts are bigger than most.
At the start of the first pandemic shut down, Big Lake instantly put their brew kettles into action. “We’re In This Together,” a hazy double IPA, supported the brewery’s employees during the closure.
Big Lake Brewing just kept on brewing inspiring beers from there.
“Healthcare Heroes,” another double IPA from the brewery, was the reason why Burch nominated it. A physician assistant with Holland Hospital, Burch experienced first-hand the generosity of the brewery when they made a $2,500 donation to the hospital to help support these front line workers.
“The idea for Healthcare Heroes came from our staff, who have lots of friends and family working in healthcare,” Keith Henry, director of sales at Big Lake Brewing. “We wanted to create a beer to give back to the healthcare heroes in our communities, and celebrate them at the same time, so we teamed up with our distributor, Imperial Beverage, to do just that. So far, we have donated funds to Holland Hospital and Ann Arbor’s St. Joseph Hospital, where the label and beer name were conceived by the hospital’s nursing staff. Together, we have also made donations to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and have plans to donate to other hospitals in the state using proceeds from the sale of the beer.” The brewery has plans to continue brewing Healthcare Heroes into 2021.
Big Lake also brewed “Farmer Strong,” another hazy IPA, using Michigan grown hops from Zeeland in the brew, and has plans this month to brew up a “Teacher Strong” beer, which according to Henry “celebrates educators, and all the hard work they’ve put in this year to adapt lessons, teach both in-person and online, and be there for students remotely.”
It’s not just about brewing at Big Lake, it’s also about giving back in a multitude of ways. Over the last year, the brewery has donated to Toys for Tots, Waukazoo Schools PTA, Washington Elementary, Best Pals Animal Rescue, West Ottawa Athletics and several other Michigan hospitals. The staff is encouraged to donated their time when and if they are able.
“This fall, we organized a beach cleanup day in partnership with Tommy’s Carwash, and got employees and volunteers out to Holland State Park for a morning of picking up trash along the shore,” Henry said. “Our lakeshore is such an important natural resource for our community, that we thought that would be a great way to help give back and keep it beautiful.”
Currently, the brewery is open for take-out of food and beer. “We have certainly had to pivot to a more take-out friendly model over the last year, but we are adapting and learning to constantly adjust our plans and expectations, just like all the breweries and restaurants out there.” They are incredibly grateful for the support they’ve received from their customers during this time.
“Our community is so important to us, and they continue to support us as we grow, which we appreciate more than we can ever express,” said Henry. “As a locally-owned and independent brewery, that’s really important and we want to give back and share that love as much as we can.”
The community agrees. As Burch said, “We are lucky to have Big Lake here in Holland.”
If you go:
Big Lake Brewing
13 West 7th St.
Holland, Michigan 49423
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