Great Lakes & Upper South in the News: "Kalamazoo Beer Week 2015 starts Saturday (10 Jan 2015), featuring more than 200 events from 48 breweries" from MLive
KALAMAZOO, MI — Kalamazoo Beer Week 2015 kicks off this weekend, featuring more than 200 events and nearly 50 Michigan and out-of-state breweries.
Kalamazoo Beer Week runs from Jan. 10 to Jan. 17. It unofficially kicks off at a Boatyard Brewing Co. party from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9 at the brewery, 432 E. Patterson St. The party will include live music, beer specials and food from The Tamale Guy.
The official kick off starts with Kalamazoo Beer Week's pub crawl on Saturday, Jan. 10. The pub crawl's two trolleys will stop at seven downtown drinking locations from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., including University Roadhouse, O'Duffy's Pub, The Union and Kalamazoo Beer Exchange.
Kalamazoo Beer Week, organized by Imperial Beverage and Discover Kalamazoo was started as a way to promote activities in Kalamazoo during a typically slow time of the year, said Renee Newman, Discover Kalamazoo director of marketing and communications. It has grown so much that this year a dozen hotels are offering special beer week rates. Kalamazoo is seen as a model for Imperial Beverage's other beer weeks in Traverse City and Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti.
"We're seeing the people come from Chicago and Lansing and Cadillac, and making it a fun weekend for a group coming from Ohio to take in Kalamazoo Beer Week and enjoy what we have," Newman said. "It's definitely been a big draw for the beer culture and the beer movement in Kalamazoo."
Kalamazoo Beer Week's events are as varied as the people who are likely to attend.
"We're seeing for the first time ever one of our locations hosting a speed dating night," Drummond said. Shakespeare's will host speed dating at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 in a partnership with Greenbush Brewing Co., and the beers offered could remind you of a bad relationship – Anger, Apathy, Distorter and Closure.
Art lovers can combine art and craft beer with Kalamadoodle and Gonzo's BiggDogg Brewing at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 6 p.m. Jan. 14. Participants are encouraged to share their imagination through drawing, sketching writing and scribbling.
Several breweries, including Bell's Brewery, Arcadia Ales, Southern Tier and Brewery Vivant will host beer dinners, while Dark Horse Brewing will host a beer dinner spoof Jan. 14 at Shakespeare's, where food offerings will include ramen noodles and Pop Tarts.
"The idea here is there are very formal beer dinners and there are beers you can pair with anything," Drummond said. "It absolutely is a parity of the nicer, more formalized beer dinner experiences."
Bell's Brewery's Snow Jog, a choose-your-own-adventure race involving challenges at several downtown stops, returns for the third year on Saturday, Jan. 10. The event is sold out, according to Bell's website.
"People look forward to that every year and there's an interesting cast of characters who come out for it," Newman said.
To be included in Kalamazoo Beer Week, an event must meet three criteria – it must be focused on craft beer, it must include some sort of programming and it must offer a presentation or interactive element where attendees can learn from the people who produced the beer or paired it with something special, Drummond said.
"They are the most educated about the product being poured and they are the ones to interact with the general public," Drummond said.
New this year, a free shuttle will run from 6 p.m. to midnight Jan. 10 through Jan. 17 and will stop at several downtown-area breweries: Rupert's Brew House, Gonzo's Biggdogg Brewing, Tibbs Brewing Co., Arcadia Ales, Boatyard Brewing Co. and Bell's Brewery. The shuttle will run every 45 minutes, with drop offs and pickups on the side street closest to the brewery entrance. Several of the breweries' brewers will ride the shuttle Wednesday through Saturday. It will be operated by Dan's Ultra Party Bus.
"Riders can move between different breweries and taste the flavors of Kalamazoo beer," said Anne Drummond, marketing and public relations director for Imperial Beverage.
Kalamazoo Beer Week organizers encourage the appreciation of craft beer and the craft beer movement, not its abuse, Drummond said. All of the beer week's literature includes a QR code that, when scanned, will take a user to a page on Kalamazoo Beer Weeks' website that lists several taxi services.
Organizers are teaming up with Amtrak so that participants who ride either of the train lines that run through Kalamazoo from Chicago will receive a 20 percent discount on their tickets. Amtrak has two lines that run through Kalamazoo, the Blue Water Line, which ends in Port Huron and the Wolverine Line, which ends in Pontiac.
Kalamazoo Beer Week also has its own badge on the craft beer-themed social media and check-in network Untappd. Participants who check in at two places during the week will earn the Kalamazoo Beer Week badge.