ROCKFORD, MI – It’s almost perfect.

Great food, great beer and great service, all surrounded by natural beauty of the White Pine Trail. It’s almost as if Third Nature Brewing Company was built as a set for a Pure Michigan television commercial.

It’s no surprise the brewery with a huge biergarten, multiple fire pits and Igloos was recognized as one top destinations for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining in Grand Rapids.

It finished second behind poll winner One Twenty Three Tavern in Grand Rapids and ahead of Brass Ring Brewery in Grand Rapids, which is known for its outdoor shanties.

Opening in late 2019, the setting quickly became a huge part of its success, which was only heightened when meeting the unexpected challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and indoor dining shutdown.

“We have been so grateful for our little Biergarten haven,” said Hayley Zitzelsberger, who co-owns the brewery with her husband Chad, and brother-in-law, Troy. “It’s allowed us to keep serving you beer, food and a safe place to come and enjoy some time out of the house.”

We featured Third Nature Brewing Company in our recent story about outdoor dining destinations on the White Pine Trail.

READ: 10 great Outdoor Dining spots along the White Pine Trail

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining search along the White Pine Trail

A Third Nature Brewing Co. employee delivers food to customers in an “igbrew” on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in Rockford. (Hope Davison | MLive.com)Hope Davison

We thought we would check back with Hayley Zitzelsberger to see how things are going now that indoor dining has returned to 25 percent, and if the recent cold weather has kept people from going outdoors.

How are things are going? Is usage up or down of the Igbrews?

“The recent cold snap effected us, but not as big of an impact as we were anticipating. Thankfully, we had our Igbrews along with the 25% capacity indoors to welcome you inside again. It’s obviously not as many people as we can usually accommodate under normal times; but, we make due with what we have available right now! Thankfully we enclosed our pergola at the beginning of the 25% capacity re-opening. It creates a unique dining experience with our cafe lights overhead, heaters and the enclosure’s large windows allow you to gaze out to snow covered biergarten. We saw a slight drop in Igbrew reservations only in the sense that they haven’t fill up as quickly. We usually still had a sold out night by the day of service.”

How has business been overall?

“Overall (it) has been better than expected. We have benefitted from creating our large outdoor space enhancements as well as a somewhat mild winter (at least before this last cold snap). Indoor dining is tough with only being able to serve 25% of what we usually do but we are trying to make the best of what we are allowed to do right now. We’re thankful that we have guests wanting to come out to dine, drink and feel safe doing so with our COVID procedures we have in place. We’re all doing what we can and having even 25% of our tables filled brings us a lot of happiness.”

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining search along the White Pine Trail

The “Falafel Bowl” dish is pictured with the Jeju IPA and blackberry cider at Third Nature Brewing Co. on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in Rockford. (Hope Davison | MLive.com)Hope Davison

Describe Third Nature to first time visitors, from the beer side to the food side.

“To our first time visitor that’s a beer lover – We’re always trying to brew you something new. Our head brewer, Troy, is always working on something and our tap menu changes on a regular basis. Even having a few ‘Crew Brews’ where we have a team member create a brew! We have approachable beer but we will absolutely satisfy you beer aficionados out there too! A popular on tap right now is our Imp’s Decadent Delight; a Vanilla Coconut Macaroon Imperial Stout. Best way to get to know our brews would be to order a flight next time you come in. Our team is always willing to help you create the perfect flight board for you!

“To our first time visitor that’s a foodie – Our head chef, Ryan, doles out some amazing all house-smoked BBQ, salads, shareables, pizzas, comfort food and mouthwatering food specials. You’re defiantly going to want to tear apart our jumbo soft pretzel with beer cheese or dry rubbed smoked wings to start. Follow that with one of our awesome bowls including a new menu item, our Falafel Bowl! Also add one of our three different burgers we have on the menu or of our house smoked BBQ sandwiches; just to name a few choices. We also cater to our vegetarian, vegan and GF friends too so ask your server for our dietary substitutions! Our Chef is looking forward to our next beer dinner where he creates a one time only multi-course dinner and beer pairing with our head brewer. These dinners are always decadent, fun and delicious!

“Overall we want our brewery to be welcoming, friendly and bring you a little closer to nature over a delicious meal and a pint.

The search for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining is sponsored in part by Warm Fitness.

Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining search along the White Pine Trail

The outdoor area of Third Nature Brewing Co. is pictured on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in Rockford. (Hope Davison | MLive.com)Hope Davison

IF YOU GO

Third Nature Brewing Company

7733 Childsdale Ave. NE, Rockford, MI 49341

616-512-9314

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays. (Kitchen open till 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; last call at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.)

Also: The Igloo reservations are online and secured with a $50 deposit, which includes a $10 rental fee that supports cleaning and maintenance costs. A $40 refund goes back on your card. Reservations are for 90 minutes.

More info: thirdnaturebrewing.com or facebook.com/thirdnaturebrew

Search for Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining: The Hearthstone Bistro

Heated igloo dining at The Hearthstone Bistro on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. The igloos are available for one reservation, per igloo, per night. (Cory Morse | MLive.com)Cory Morse | MLive.com

If you have questions about this search or suggestions for future searches, feel free to email us:

John Gonzalez: [email protected]

Amy Sherman: [email protected]

Follow our Michigan’s Best adventures on social media:

@mlivemibest on Twitter

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Facebook at MLiveMIBest.

Join in by using the hashtags #mibest and #outdoordining.

In addition:

John Gonzalez is on Twitter @michigangonzo, as well as Facebook and Instagram @MichiganGonzo.

Amy Sherman is on Twitter @amyonthetrail, as well as Facebook and Instagram @amyonthetrail.

Barley and Vine offers craft beer, wine and charcuterie

Barley and Vine is the MichiganÕs Best Outdoor Dining Flint poll winner. The establishment is located at 1072 Elms Road in Clayton Township, between Swartz Creek and Flushing. (Jake May | MLive.com)Jake May | MLive.com

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