Category Archives: Blog

Vander Mill, Long Road Distillers partner to produce brandy, apple-based spirits

GRAND RAPIDS — Vander Mill LLC and Long Road Distillers LLC have struck a partnership to further capitalize on the growing market for craft spirits.

While Grand Rapids-based Vander Mill will continue to focus primarily on its brands of craft hard cider, it ultimately plans to carve out a niche in spirits by offering a handful of apple-based liquors like brandy and vodka.

“I’ve had a long-term view that craft spirits are going to be the thing of the next decade,” Vander Mill CEO Paul Vander Heide told MiBiz. “If you go to almost any bar or restaurant, regardless of the experience, they’re selling the spirit market that is almost exclusively dominated by these big brands. … When you look at that market, there is such a big opportunity to bring more personality and story line to craft spirits, just like with beer and cider.”

The two companies plan to co-develop an apple brandy using Vander Mill’s apples that “will become a more widespread brand for both of us,” Vander Heide said. READ MORE…

Federal tax changes benefit craft beverage producers

Changes to the federal tax code implemented at the beginning of the year could alleviate burdensome financial and bureaucratic rules for many craft beverage makers.

Under the new law, small craft brewers, cider makers and distillers generating less than $50,000 in tax liabilities are no longer required to pay bond requirements to the federal government. In the past, those craft beverage producers were required to pay upfront so the government could guarantee payment for the year if the business failed to pay its taxes.

“It was a guarantee that the federal government had the money if you disappeared in the middle of the night,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, a Boulder Colo.-based industry group. “They’ll still have to pay the taxes, but they won’t have to have the extra money on file with the government in perpetuity.” READ MORE…

10 Hard Ciders You’ve Never Heard of, But Need to Try

When it comes to booze, people think beer, cocktails, or wine. Those aren’t the only choices though, and some people may get bored with the same IPA or glass of Pinot Noir. Good news, the cider scene is better than ever.

The apple-based beverage is increasingly working its way into the mix and there are a number of reasons why this may be the case. Robert Vedder, certified cicerone and retail development manager at Powers Distributing in Orion, Michigan, says, “It’s giving these drinkers another option. It’s opening the doors to a whole different drink.” That cider is naturally gluten-free only adds to the appeal.

These aren’t the candy-like drinks you had in your youth. “The biggest misconception is that it’s sweet,” Vedder says. “Oh man, there are some sweet ones out there, but there are a great number of very dry, complex, interesting ciders coming out now.” READ MORE…

Fork, Knife and Pint: Why breweries are stepping up their food game

When planning his new kitchen, Rockford Brewing Company owner Seth Rivard knew, first of all, what wasn’t going to work.

“We’re not just buying a bunch of frozen shit, throwing it in a fryer and saying, ‘Here you go!’” he told Revue.

Just a few years ago, most breweries could get away with treating their food menu as a greasy afterthought — maybe a few token appetizers or sandwiches to keep the regulars warming the barstools.

But breweries in Beer City and throughout West Michigan are learning, sometimes the hard way, that a successful operation needs more than just good beer to distinguish itself in 2016. It’s a field that seems to become more crowded with every passing month. Now that the region is flush with craft beer and cider, what emerges from a brewery’s kitchen is just as important as what comes out of its taps. READ MORE…

Orchard is sweet on cider apples

Vander Mill’s Paul Vander Heide, left, and Dan Dietrich, one of the owners of Ridgeview Orchards, discuss the 20 acres set aside for production of cider apples. Photo by Pat Evans
For every apple picked off of a grocery store shelf, a consumer could pick up several cans of hard cider.

Very few apples pass the test to make it to the grocery store, with the rest heading to processing purposes, such as hard cider, apple juice, applesauce and other apple products, according to Dan Dietrich, a member of the family ownership of Ridgeview Orchards, which is one of two orchards operating through Dietrich Orchards. READ MORE…

8 Must-Try Midwest Ciders for Fall

The Midwest is widely considered to be one of the premier areas of the country for farming apples. With hundreds of varieties grown annually, it’s no surprise that the region’s hard cider culture has taken the nation and the beverage world by storm. From right here in Illinois all the way to Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin, there are almost too many notable cider options to choose from. Fortunately, we’ve done the work for you and have narrowed the list down to eight signature brews you can’t miss this fall and, more importantly, we’ll tell you where to get them! READ MORE…

GRBJ: Restaurant pairs French cuisine, cider at annual mixer

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – Paul Vander Heide is confident the best meal in Grand Rapids on Sept. 27 will be at Vander Mill.

It will be the second cider dinner held at the company’s Grand Rapids location, 505 Ball Ave. NE, which opened this spring, but Vander Mill’s owner said there have been others at the original Spring Lake location that help highlight two objectives.

Vander Heide said the first objective is to help educate consumers by exploring the various types of cider available. The second is to show cider’s “incredible ability to pair with food,” he said. READ MORE…

5 places to dine and avoid the action of Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize

Almost half a million people are expected to descend upon downtown Grand Rapids for the ArtPrize international public art competition during its almost three-week run beginning Wednesday.

That’s a lot of hungry people.

But there are only two kinds of individuals in the world: those who want to be in the heart of the action and those who don’t.

For those looking to escape the ArtPrize crowds and hub-hub, here are five spots to savor some local flavor: READ MORE…

Cider and Networking at ACG Western Michigan Mixer

Ideas flowed freely along with the cider, when young middle-market professionals gathered in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Aug. 10 for a tour of Vander Mill, the largest craft hard cider producer in the Midwest.

Owner Paul Vander Heide spoke to some 75 ACG Western Michigan members and guests about how his business started, how the current model differs from the original plan and why it has led to success.

“Don’t ever ask a contractor if something can be done,” Vander Heide jokingly told guests, who also spent time networking, sampling cider and snacking on appetizers. “The answer is always yes. It just takes money.” READ MORE

Cider Can(didates) for Summer Adventuring

Summer is a time of friends, fun and cold booze. If it’s hiking, boating, picnicking, going to the tailgate or getting outdoors in any other way, cider is the most refreshing libation to be enjoyed when parched. When traveling, glass bottles can be a bit bulky and loud, so we’ve found some ciders which are perfect can[didates] to throw into a bag and bring adventuring. READ MORE…

Revue’s ‘Best of the West’ 2016 Winners: Drinking

Congratulations West Michigan: You’ve added fuel to the hype train.

The Best of the West results for the best beer, hooch and other drinking-related categories come as no surprise, but this is a popularity contest, after all. 

That said, no one will dispute the bona fides of the winners in either of the top beer categories: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale for best IPA and KBS from Founders for best stout. Both beers rank among the standard-bearers for their individual styles in the nationwide craft beer scene. 

Likewise, there’s no question best brewery award winner Founders has left a mark in the hearts and minds of West Michigan with its compelling backstory (How many times have you heard that they almost went bankrupt?) and for its consistency in turning out good products. READ MORE

Navigating a shifting market

As the craft beverage industry matures, it’s attracted new entrants who may be more concerned with making a quick profit than with the quality of the liquid.

For people who started in the industry with a dream and a passion for making the best beverages possible, that’s a considerable challenge, especially as the industry starts to level off from the unsustainable growth rates of the last few years. READ MORE…


Just a couple miles east of the infamous Michigan Ave hill, Vander Mill Cider has created a new home away from home. It is safe to say they have upgraded, just a tad — growing from 3,000 square feet to 43,000 square feet. Walking into Vander Mill Grand Rapids, you feel instantly connected to their home location in Spring Lake.

You’ll notice the same vibrant deep red color they are known for, a wall constructed of boards from apple crates from their grower, and some of the familiar ciders so many people have grown to love. What sets this location apart is the huge glass windows in the taproom and restaurant overlooking the production facility below. And the best feature, I must say, is an added on mezzanine that overlooks the production facility — that wasn’t in the original plan. READ MORE…

Michigan taps into blossoming trend pairing cider and food

The joy and genius of what happens when apples are elevated beyond snack food sits unassumingly on the Vander Mill taproom menu, listed third among starters, just between the smoked whitefish toast (delicious) and crispy fried smelt (this is the Great Lakes, after all).

The dish in question is called “Ham + Doughnuts,” and it’s simple enough: three dense, slightly larger-than-a-half-dollar apple cider doughnuts feted in thin slices of Kentucky ham, chunks of a cheddarlike white cheese and a light pool of rust-colored apple butter. READ MORE…

Vander Mill’s new GR facility features taste and capacity An ambitious menu and ramped-up production differentiate cider-maker’s new home.

Paul Vander Heide is excited about his culinary team at the newly opened Grand Rapids location of Vander Mill Cider.

The owner of the cider company that began in Spring Lake in 2006 wanted to bring good food to his taproom at the new $4.3 million production facility at 505 Ball Ave. NE, but he wasn’t sure what type of menu to provide. READ MORE…

Cider mill opens French Country cuisine restaurant in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Vander Mill is joining Grand Rapids’ expanding craft beer scene with a hard cider brewery and a tap room that serves French country cuisine.

The 40,000 square-foot production facility and restaurant, at 505 Ball Ave. NE, opened on Monday, April 18.

Hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. Lunch will be added soon, says Paul Vander Heide, who owns the business with his wife, Amanda. READ MORE…

Vander Mill Blue Gold

Vander Mill began as a cider mill in 2006 with modest intentions: to create a homey cider-centric gathering place. But the cidery has quickly developed into something larger – about 400% larger than its original production, to be exact. READ MORE…

22 Low-Alcohol Cocktails for Mellow Evenings

Session cocktails are on the rise.

Once the backup plan for restaurants limited by beer and wine licenses, session cocktails—or low-proof libations—have broken out as a trend all their own. Perhaps thanks in part to the spread of amaro, vermouth, and sherry, low-alcohol drinks are hitting bar menus across the country, serving as the middle ground between mocktail and cocktail. Below, 22 mildly spirited cocktails on offer, now! READ MORE

10 Winter Ciders for You to Cozy Up To

It’s that time of year again, the weather is getting colder, stores are playing holiday music, onesie pajamas are socially acceptable to wear, and you find yourself in need of something to drink while sitting by the fire. This list of 10 delicious winter ciders is sure to keep you warm and your taste buds happy all the way to spring: READ MORE…