The Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Festival kicks off on June 11, and organizers are quickly preparing their lineup of festivities. Among them will be a new, lychee-flavored beer introduced by The Mitten Brewing Company.
The beer will be created using ingredients from local grocery stores, such as India Market. However, it will provide more than a fun experience for attendees' taste buds; it will also serve as a fundraising initiative for the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Foundation (GRAPF), as the organization seeks financial support after a difficult past year.
"We’re trying to raise funds to have the same kind of (festival) quality as previous years. You know with COVID not everyone is as financially able to donate,” Samantha Suarez, Director of Marketing for GRAPF, said.
The beer will be donated to the foundation and sold at the festival. Co-founder of The Mitten Brewing Company, Chris Andrus, said he and his team were eager to get involved.
"We jumped at the chance and our brewers really jumped at the chance too because they wanted to make something they’ve never made before,” Co-founder of the brewery, Chris Andrus, said "They got to go to these different grocery stores they may not find themselves on a daily basis, get to try new ingredients, and of all loved the festival.”
This isn't the first time Andrus' team has been a part of the festival. They previously incorporating Thai herbs into a beer called "Thai Breaker" that was sold at the festival and its Grand Rapids taproom. This year's beer will also appear on The Mitten Brewing Company's menu.
Andrus said he jumped at the chance to help again this year, in midst of an ongoing rise in hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
"I think there's never been a better chance or better time to show off all the great things about the culture, and get people more familiar with their neighbors," he said.
For more information about the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Festival, click here.