Kalamazoo Booktoberfest is a celebration of books and beer

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrad69@gmail.com

Eric Strader

During my days at Western Michigan University, I spent a good deal of time in downtown Kalamazoo, Mich.  This included trips to both the main branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL), as well as trips to the only brewery in town at the time, The Kalamazoo Brewing Company, which became what we know today as Bell’s Brewery in 2005. However, in the years since, several additional breweries have found a home in Kalamazoo, including Arcadia Ales, Tibbs Brewing, Bilbo’s Pizza, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, Boatyard Brewing, Rupert’s Brewhouse, and Olde Peninsula Brewpub.

In 2013, not only was Kalamazoo voted second place in the Beer City, USA competition, but KPL showed record-breaking numbers in its circulation.  So, the library decided to combine the two for the first annual Booktoberfest. Five Kalamazoo breweries, including Bell’s Brewery, Arcadia Ales, Tibbs Brewing, Bilbo’s Pizza, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, have teamed up for several what the library is calling “hop-tastic” events.

Here is a list of upcoming events from the library website:

Home Brewing with Bell’s Brewery

Wednesday, Sept. 24, 7 p.m., Central Library

Bell’s Brewery crafts some of the most loved beers in the world. David Curtis, manager of Bell’s General Store, is actively involved with the KLOB (Kalamazoo Libation Organization of Brewers), and is an award-winning home brewer. Learn how to brew your own beer at home the Bell’s way. Whether you have brewed a few beers or are a novice, participants will hear tricks and secrets to help your next batch.

Screening of The Michigan Beer Film

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 180 Portage St., Kalamazoo

Free event; ticket required*

Filmed by Kalamazoo’s Rhino Media, The Michigan Beer Film is a documentary about the amazing craft brew scene in the Great Lakes State. Watch not only the process of beer making, but also the great stories behind the brewmasters. Discover why Michigan is quickly becoming a beer lover’s destination.

*This is a free event. Space is limited and tickets are required. Free tickets will be available at Central Library two weeks prior to the event.

Beer and Food Pairings with Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewery

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 7 p.m., Central Library

We all know that beer is a great complement to most meals, but do you know which brews go best with certain foods? Discover the most fabulous beer/food pairings from the team at Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewery. Greg “Gonzo” Haner and Brian Hill opened Kalamazoo’s newest microbrewery in 2013. Gonzo is considered one of Kalamazoo’s original brewers.

Meet the Brewmasters with Arcadia Ales

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m., Eastwood Branch Library

Arcadia Brewing Company was established in 1996 as a microbrewery specializing in handcrafted, British-style ales. The methods originated in England, which allows this style of beer to reflect over 250 years of world-class brewing heritage. This year, Arcadia opened a new facility in the River’s Edge area of Kalamazoo, which is, ironically, the exact spot where Kalamazoo’s most famous distillery once stood more than 150 years ago. Learn not only about its unique brewing methods, but also the story of the brewery.

Local Brewery Panel Discussion

Tuesday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m., Washington Square Branch Library

Tibbs Brewing | Brite Eyes Brewing | Bilbo’s Pizza | Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewery

This year, Kalamazoo was named by U.S. News & World Report one of the most underrated beer cities in the country. Hear the stories of four of Kalamazoo’s best breweries in a discussion moderated by MLive’s John Liberty and West Michigan Beer Tours. Learn what it takes to open and operate a brewery in one of the fastest growing beer cities in Michigan. Sponsored by West Michigan Beer Tours.

Booktoberfest Book Discussions

“Round Ireland with a Fridge” by Tony Hawks

Monday, Oct. 6, 6 p.m., Bilbo’s Pizza, 3307 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo

A hilarious travel adventure in the tradition of Bill Bryson with a dash of Dave Barry, and an international bestseller. Tony Hawks’ ready sense of the absurd, his self-deprecatory charm and his warm appreciation of the Irish and their traditionally immoderate characteristics combine to make this a resoundingly good read, offering a tantalizing glimpse of grassroots Ireland captured in a wonderful blend of perception and humor.

“The Yellow Birds” by Kevin Powers

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 6 p.m., Arcadia Ales, 701 East Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo

A novel written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, “The Yellow Birds” is the harrowing story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive. With profound emotional insight, especially into the effects of a hidden war on mothers and families at home, “The Yellow Birds” is a groundbreaking novel that is destined to become a classic.

Booktoberfest Brews

Two of the participating breweries are offering special brews during Booktoberfest. Brewer Kevin Tibbs is well known for his Hell-Jen Belgian Tripel (10 percent ABV). So he took that same Trappist yeast strain and used it to brew a full bodied Chocolate Stout. If you show your KPL library card, you will get $1 off on Tibbs Brewing Overdue Brew (Belgian Chocolate Stout, 7.8 percent ABV) or any other beer at the brewery on Thursdays during the month of September. Also with your KPL library card during the month of October, you will get $1 off a pint of Bilbo’s Pizza and Brewing Company Legend of Pumpkin Hollow pumpkin ale.

 

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