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Friday, 28 October 2016 10:50

East West Brewing Co. opens in heart of Eastown

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GRAND RAPIDS — The Eastown Business District is poised to get its second brewery.

East West Brewing Co., a 2,000-square-foot pub focusing on traditional American-style beers, plans to open by Dec. 1 at 1400 Lake Dr. SE, next to the popular Bombay Cuisine. The two concepts share a building and common ownership, but will be operated separately.

“I’ve wanted to do this for nine years but have always said, ‘No, that’s too much,’” said owner Balwinder Bal.

As Bal, 59, continued to become more interested in craft beer and brewing, the temptation proved too much, he said, noting he’s a fan of IPAs.

“I’m really into craft beer,” Bal said. “This has been a dream of mine.”

East West Brewing Co. will offer 10 in-house beer taps including brown ales, IPAs and amber ales, and the brewery eventually plans to experiment with uniquely spiced offerings.

“It’s going to get a little exciting,” Bal said of his beer, noting that he will try to source as many local ingredients as possible.

To help launch the brewery, Bal tapped Teo Watson-Ahlbrandt, a brewing consultant from Ann Arbor who has worked with the likes of Marshall-based Dark Horse Brewing Co. and Big Hart Brewery in Hart.

As for food, Bal aims to keep the menu stocked with simple dishes at reasonable prices.

“The idea is for customers to have a meal and two beers for $20,” he said.

Bal also owns Bombay Cuisine, which recently shifted to the adjacent space in the facility that housed various restaurant concepts over the years, including The Queen’s Pub, Radix and Trattoria Di Stagione. East West Brewing Co. will operate from the original Bombay space and focus on sandwiches and hamburgers, with the occasional Indian street food special.

Bal said the two concepts will not compete, as Bombay focuses on higher-end Indian cuisine.

Because of its licensing, East West Brewing will also be able to feature guest taps from other local breweries, including many owned by friends in the craft beer industry who have become patrons of Bal’s business.

East West Brewing Co. invested roughly $250,000 into remodeling the facility and purchasing new equipment, which includes stainless steel fermenters and brite tanks manufactured by Greenville-based Psycho Brew LLC, Bal said.

Sparta-based ChoiceOne Bank provided the financing for the equipment.

Bal estimates that East West Brewing Co. will be able to produce approximately 50 barrels a month on its existing equipment.

When finished, the brewery should seat approximately 80 people in a remodeled interior including rusted stainless steel walls, a live wall and community seating. Bal is working with Grand Rapids-based Studio Babick for custom furnishings, including tables featuring repurposed barn wood.

With the equipment in place and the furnishings being finalized and installed in the next couple of weeks, Bal said he’s excited to share the laid-back concept with the neighborhood.

“I want this to be a community space,” Bal said. “The Eastown community is what has sustained me all these years.”

Managing Editor Joe Boomgaard contributed to this report.

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John Wiegand

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