All posts by Paul Vander Heide

Wait….Aren’t you just a cider place?


Well, the very simple answer is NO! It is true, we are well known for our world class ciders made at our facility in Grand Rapids.  We use the best fruit in the world, grown right here in West Michigan. In fact, at both locations you can try more different types of cider than you even knew existed.  From completely dry to sweet, ciders with other Michigan fruit like raspberries and blueberries or you can try one of our many spiced ciders like Totally Roasted, Ginger Zero or Rosé.  We would love to help you find the one you like.  You might just be a “cider person” after all! 

If you prefer to go down a road well traveled, we have you covered!  We are also a licensed Micro Brewery.  We have a rich, hop forward American IPA on draft that is made right here in our facility.  If your palate prefers something lighter, we have a crisp and full bodied pilsner.  Have you ever had a “Snakebite”?  No, not the kind you might get when hiking down a trail and stumbling upon a slithering reptile.  A Snakebite at Vander Mill is made with half pilsner and half cider of your choice.  Get creative and make a fruit beer by adding Cherry Chuckle (cherry cider).  Or, make it crushable by simply choosing to blend with our classic Hard Apple cider. The combinations are infinite.

Still not tempted?  Well, let me introduce a new brand to you: Full Bar.  We manufacture a line of canned spirits and mixers that you can enjoy on premise, or take home.  Take in a hot summer day with a Classic Margarita, Gin and Tonic, Vodka Soda, or another one of our cider based cocktails.  Either way, we have you covered!


Cider Taster
Vander Mill

What is the safest way to dine out? We think that we have the answer.


I was having a conversation with a friend recently regarding how much our lives and habits have changed since COVID-19.  Alden said it best when relating people and their behavior to that of someone with a recent concussion.  Certainly the intent is not to make light of a serious injury, but rather to describe the  confusion we all seem to have when engaging each other after being quarantined for such a long time.  How does my mask look?  Should I shake your hand? Is a fist bump okay?  Or STAY AWAY!  We all have our own disposition as it relates to these very common social situations.  When visiting Vander Mill we think we have a way to give everyone the comfort they need to enjoy going out, being social, and also safe. Here are a few ways we think that you will feel safe during your visit. 

Big outdoor space keeps you safe! You simply HAVE to visit our outdoor patios.  In Grand Rapids our patio is lined with young apple trees and green grass, you will never know you are near the heart of the city.  We have picnic tables, benches around our fire pit and soft seating well spaced for your comfort.  Have a couple of seats under the apple trees (if you are lucky enough to snag one of the two Adirondack chairs hidden away).  If you are in Spring Lake, you will enjoy an acre of openness in the shade or in the sun in which to enjoy yourself.  Order online  for your food.  Head over to the pickup window or the bar to place your drink order. Please keep a safe distance from other customers.



Limited Contact Service Available.  If you prefer not to have a server come to your table as frequently, you are welcome to order online while indoors or outdoors.  We will bring your food to you when it is ready.  Again, simply place your order online through our website, sit back and enjoy!

Sanitization.  We know a thing or two about sanitizing.    After being in food and beverage production for almost 15 years we have all the knowledge and resources to keep contact surfaces clean and safe.  Our staff will be regularly wiping down contact surfaces between customers for your health and safety.  Good food manufacturing practices are essential to the high quality and safe production of all our products.  We also have hand sanitizer available if you would like further assurance during your visit.

Good Practice.  Our staff is equipped with face coverings while serving you to limit any exposure of bacteria and virus to both you and our fellow staff members. We also always wear gloves when handling food items per our usual practice, and wash our hands between use and otherwise frequently.  

We hope that the above will help you make a decision to come in and join us in celebrating the bounty of Michigan agricultural products.  Our ciders, beer and spirits are manufactured right here in our facility.  We use ingredients that are high quality and locally procured, when available, in an effort to support our community.  Please come and let us tell you more about our business!


Cider Taster
Vander Mill

What COVID procedures to expect when visiting Vander Mill.


Going out for dinner and or drinks has changed for all of us due to COVID-19.  At Vander Mill we strive to give our customers the best experience while enjoying great food, cider, beer, cocktails, and most importantly, great company!  We would like to outline a few of these changes so you know what to expect when visiting us, hopefully in the near future!

What to expect from us, and what we expect from you.

  1. Please come in!  We have posted signs that our customers are required by the state of Michigan to wear masks when entering the building, walking to your seat, and when you get up to leave your seat.  If you don’t have a mask, please let us know and we will provide one for you.  If you are unable to wear a mask, we will not refuse service.  
  2. We offer two choices for service to give you options when visiting us:  Full service – A server will greet you and attend to all your needs during your visit.  Our servers will be wearing masks as required by the State. Limited service – When seated, simply tell us that you do NOT prefer table service.  You will be provided with instructions to place your food order through our website.  For beverage service, simply walk up to the bar with distance from other customers and place your drink order with the bartender.  Your food will be delivered to your table.
  3. Contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized in between customers, per our usual practice.
  4. All of our staff are required to notify us if they are not feeling well and are instructed not to come to work.  This is a typical practice for the restaurant industry, even before COVID-19.

We hope you will come see the new and exciting products we have to offer at Vander Mill.  Our new menu is creative and delicious.  We are a fast and casual restaurant that hopes to teach you something about the great bounty Michigan has to offer and how we represent it in our products.  See you soon!


Cider Taster
Vander Mill


Grand Rapids, MI, October 8, 2015– Vander Mill has hired a true culinary pedigree Justin Large as the Chef and Culinary Director for its Spring Lake and upcoming Grand Rapids restaurant.

After fifteen years working as a Chef and Culinary Director in several of Chicago’s James Beard award winning restaurants, Chef Justin Large is joining the Vander Mill team.  Justin is thrilled to be a part of the growing West Michigan culinary scene, and is excited to join a brand that champions many of the great products Michigan has to offer.  Justin plans on crafting a menu that highlights local and regional products, as well as creates a platform to display cider’s culinary versatility.

I am excited to have Justin as a part of our team.  We can’t wait to showcase the combination of high quality ciders, food, and hospitality.  – Paul Vander Heide (Owner at Vander Mill)

Before his career in restaurants, Large spent his youth in both Massachusetts and Florida.  He obtained degrees in global business management and economics at the University of Florida. Though a business degree was his focus, food was his passion.

In 1999 he joined the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.  Upon completion, Large accepted an internship at Paul Kahan’s Blackbird in Chicago.  This evolved into holding various leadership positions within the esteemed restaurant group, One Off Hospitality, including working as Sous Chef at Avec, Consulting Chef at The Violet Hour, Tournant for The Publican, and opening Chef de Cuisine at Big Star. Large was promoted to Director of Culinary Operations for One Off Hospitality in 2013.  During his tenure as Culinary Director, Justin was a key member of the opening team at Nico Osteria and Dove’s Luncheonette, which was recently nominated by bon appétit for best new restaurant of 2015.

Justin has appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef, on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, and has led cooking demonstrations at the Taste of Chicago and for the children in Chicago’s public schools.

“I’m beyond excited to be a part of a company that produces an incredible product, and is building a great brand.  My goal is to make sure the food I create enhances the Vander Mill experience.” – Justin Large

Justin enjoys spending time with his wife Molly and son Auden, is an avid bike enthusiast, and of course, enjoys drinking Vander Mill Cider.

Vander Mill

With humble beginnings in 2006 as a traditional cider mill, Vander Mill began distributing their hard cider in 2008.  After expanding their facility in Spring Lake in 2013, Vander Mill is now distributing their hard cider varieties in convenience and grocery stores, bars, and restaurants throughout Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.  Currently Vander Mill is working on their largest expansion yet with the renovation of a 40,000sf production facility and restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Amy Atkinson at 231-759-3160 or email at


Grey skies and cooler temperatures couldn’t dampen the spirits of attendees at this year’s Vander Fest, the yearly celebration hosted by Michigan’s highest volume cidery, Vander Mill of Spring Lake.

The festival takes place in early October and was conceived as a celebration of the cidery’s success in this up-and-coming industry.

“One of our founders, Paul Vander Heide, wanted to find a way to celebrate the success of their business with their friends and fans, and that’s what Vander Fest is,” says Alexa Seychel, one of Vander Mill’s enthusiastic sales team, self-named “cider slingers.” Festival guests were treated to local food truck options The Standard Pizza Company and GBQ BBQ, as well as burgers and brats from Spring Lake’s own Top Butcher Shoppe.

As Vander Mill’s success has grown, so has the event. This year featured many of the state’s other top cideries, including.. READ MORE

Craft beverage producers wrestle with federal product definitions, labeling requirements

Imagine spending time and resources to develop a product only to find out that you won’t be able to describe it on the label in a way you think best resonates with consumers.

That happened recently for Maciej Halaczkiewicz, president of Grand Rapids-based Arktos Meadery LLC, a startup producer of fermented honey-based craft beverages.

When he submitted a proposed label for Arktos’ Cricket Song mead to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that governs the labeling of many alcoholic beverages, the agency told him he could not describe it as a “coffee-based mead” because of the way it was produced.

“Now when someone looks at my bottle they’re not going to have any idea they’re looking at a coffee mead,” Halaczkiewicz said.

The label for Cricket Song could only mention coffee in the product description. The product is labeled as a metheglin, an archaic term for meads that contain herbs, and is described as a “honey lemon strawberry wine with coffee added [and] aged in oak barrels for 3 months.”

To Halaczkiewicz, the TTB’s outdated labeling rules


Vander Mill Cidery In Spring Lake Hosts 2nd Annual SOWco De Mayo Celebration

What a better way to celebrate spring than with a pig roast? Vander Mill did just that for their 2nd year in a row, hosting their now annual SOWco De Mayo Spring celebration on their recently opened outdoor deck equipped with a stage for entertainment and of course, plenty of food and cider. As last year, the event was preceded by an underground whole pig burial roasting outside the mill and featured an all-you-can-eat fresh roasted pork taco and sandwich bar.
$15 was the cost of admission to the outside deck which included live music and access to the buffet. 4 specialty ciders were also available including the delicious dry-hopped Mango Citra. This year’s entertainment was provided by the Nashville based duo of Channing and Quinn who have been making the rounds in Michigan and will also be performing at New Holland Brewing Co. on Friday, June 26th. Hopcat in Grand Rapids also hosted their own third annual Vander Mill pig roast out on their patio this year as well.

Can’t get enough of Vander Mill hard cider? The great news for this year is that Vander Mill is in the process of opening an expanded production facility and taproom in the Grand Rapids area. The plans…


Vandermill opening G.R. cider mill

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) — Grand Rapids has plenty of breweries and brewpubs, and is getting distilleries. Now a new alcoholic cider mill has plans to expand here.

Vandermill, LLC, which operates a cider making facility in Spring Lake, plans to turn a former beer distribution site into a large cider making and serving location.

Vandermill Tuesday won city commission support for tax incentives for the project.

City commissioner Rosalynn Bliss told WZZM 13: “They have a well established product; they’re very well respected, they have a great product and so having that addition to Grand Rapids I think is really a great thing.”


Hard cider makers medal at international competition

One of the world’s largest hard cider competitions took place in Grand Rapids last weekend.

Several hard cider makers from the region scored big, taking home several medals at the 10th-annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, or GLINTCAP.

The competition took place at the Downtown Courtyard by Marriott, with an awards party Sunday night at The Pyramid Scheme.

With a record number of entries from across the globe, GLINTCAP is said to be the world’s largest cider and perry, or pear cider, competition. England’s Royal Bath and West Show likely could regain its title as it opens up to North American entries.

Commercial division

There were 480 entries into the commercial division, with 413 medals awarded.

Both of the ciders by Farmhaus Cider Co. in Hudsonville took home bronze in the new world cider-modern category.

Gunga Din by St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw won bronze in new world cider-modern. Gunga Din Cherry won silver in the fruit cider category. Gunga Din Cinnamon won bronze in spiced cider.

Robinette’s Cellars in Grand Rapids won bronze in the three categories: applewine, hopped/herbal cider and ice cider.

Sietsema Cider

Sietsema’s Cider in Ada performed well. Red Label and Sietsema’s Traditional Dry won bronze in the new world cider-modern category.

Sietsema’s Hopped Cider won bronze in the hopped/herbal category.

Its Lemongrass won gold in hopped/herbal category, and BackWoods Cider won bronze in the wood-aged cider category.

Virtue Cider

Virtue Cider in Fennville took home a bronze and a silver in the new world cider-heritage category.

The cider maker’s flagship, Ledbury, won silver for English cider.

The company’s Spanish cider, Sidra de Nava, won silver in the Spanish cider category.

Virtue’s Lapinette Cidre Brut and The Mitten won bronze in wood-aged cider and perry.

Vander Mill

Vander Mill in Spring Lake won a bronze for Ashmead’s Kernel in the new world cider-heritage category.

Chapman’s Blend won silver in wood-aged cider and perry.