Festival organizer Anne Drummond told me Friday morning that 230 events were scheduled for Kalamazoo Beer Week. How do you make a Top 10 list from this many events over eight days? I’m not really sure that you can, but here are some events that are highly recommended:
- Snow Jog
- Dogfish Randall Party
- Pedal Party at Boatyard
- Kegs and Eggs
- One Well Supper Club
- Proper Tasting
- KLOB Collaboration Release Party
- Michigan Beer Battle
- Ice Cream and Beer Pairings
- Gluten Free Night
- Kalamadoodle at the KIA
- Craft in a Can
OK, that was really 12 events, and here are some of my picks:
Brewer Trevor Klimek at Paw Paw Brewing filled me in on their schedule for Beer Week and here are some highlights.
- Monday Trevor and owner Ben Fleckenstein will be at Shakespeare’s where they will be unveiling a three part collaboration with Right Brain Brewing and Greenbush. The three brewed a trilogy of IPAs using the same hops in different beers named The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Paw Paw The Good IPA is a west coast style IPA, Right Brain The Bad is a red IPA, and Greenbush The Ugly is a rye IPA.
- Wednesday, The Kalamazoo Beer Exchange will be pairing four Paw Paw beers with chocolate all day long, St. James (English brown ale, 5.1% ABV), Black Talon IPA (6% ABV), Festivus (spiced holiday ale, 5.4% ABV), and Free Range Sour (6% ABV).
- Also on Wednesday, Trevor and Ben will be offering their sours at Old Burdick’s Pub. Samples will include Barrel Aged Sour James (Paw Paw St. James soured and aged in oak barrels, 5.1% ABV), Red Barn Sour (5.2% ABV), Bluegrass Sour Blonde (5.2% ABV), and Free Range Sour Stout.
View all Paw Paw Brewing Kalamazoo Beer Week events online.
Dark Horse Brewing 2nd Annual “Anti-Beer Dinner” at Shakespeare’s Pub. This is an event that only Dark Horse can pull off and will feature their beers paired with Hot Pockets, ramen noodles, Pop-Tarts, maybe even a Jell-O mold.
Beer and BBQ at Tibbs Brewing Co. Kevin Tibbs has chosen five beers to pair with each course featuring Left Coast BBQ.
Dan Kiplinger, brewer at Olde Peninsula Brewpub, let me know what he’s pulling out for KBW:
- Saturday: 3 Year Aged Doble del Diablo (double IPA, 12 percent ABV) which was originally brewed as his 666th batch of beer.
- Sunday: Oaked Organic Twilight at the Summit IPA brewed with all Michigan hops.
- Wednesday: Aged B4W (bourbon barrel aged barleywine). This is a “rebrew” of Dan’s 2007 Great American Beer Festival silver medal winning barleywine. It was tapped at last year’s beer fest with 17 months of age in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels. This is the last one-sixth of the barrel and I’m assuming it has another 12 months on it, bringing its aging time to 29 months. This is going to be some incredible beer.
- Thursday: Spanish Cedar Aged OP IPA.
- Friday: Maple Pecan Up Past Midnight Coffee Stout.
- Saturday: Oaked Pumpkin Ale.
Central City Tap House is also on my list of picks. General manager Brandon Banicki has put together one of the best ideas I’ve seen yet — Proud to Pour Kalamazoo. This event on Saturday, Jan. 10, will feature a signature beer from eight Kalamazoo breweries, all in one spot. I know that multiple beers from Kalamazoo breweries end up on tap at the same venue, but this is the first time that I’m aware that it has been intentionally planned with this many local breweries. Here is the list:
- One Well Brewing Xalapa (American-style blonde ale infused with fresh jalapeños, 4.7 percent ABV)
- Rupert’s Brewhouse Not so Peanut Butter Porter (5.3 percent ABV)
- Bell’s Amber (5.8 percent ABV)
- Arcadia IPA (5.9 percent ABV, IBUs 41)
- Lattitude 42 Melon Head (pale ale, 6.5 percent ABV)
- Boatyard Kalamazoo Cream Ale (4.6 percent ABV)
- Final Gravity IPA
- and an as yet undetermined beer from Tibbs Brewing Co.
Here are other events happening at the Central City Tap House: Sunday is Sour Sunday, Monday features Lagunitas Brewing, Tuesday will feature beer cocktails with Arcadia Ales, and they will tap Arcadia’s award- winning Shipwreck Barrel Aged Porter, Wednesday will feature an Alaskan Brewing tap takeover, which will include their award-winning Smoked Porter. Thursday will feature pairing raw oysters with Shorts beers including Black Chia, Der Norden, a firkin of Dolly Dagger, Quesar Dank. Friday’s event has not been listed yet but will feature three amazing events from Founders Brewing Co. — a rare keg of CBS, KBS and Backwoods Bastard.
There are three specific additions this year to Kalamazoo Beer Week. Many beer enthusiasts are using the Untappd social networking service to track their beers, share photos, find what beers are being tapped at what venues and to earn badges. This year, if you check in at two places during KBW, you will earn the KBW Badge.
If you are traveling to Kalamazoo from even a short distance and love to travel by train as I do, you can take advantage of the “rails to ales” tickets offered for the first time this year. Amtrack tickets for the Blue Water Line and the Wolverine Line are being offered at a 20 percent discount. Purchase tickets and find schedules online.
Lastly, a free shuttle bus will run from 6 p.m. to midnight Jan. 10 to Jan. 17. This transportation provided by Dans Ultra Party Bus will make stops at Rupert’s Brew House, Gonzo’s BigDogg Brewing, Tibbs Brewing Co., Arcadia Ales, Boatyard Brewing and Bell’s. The shuttle will rotate every 45 minutes. This service is free, but driver tips will be appreciated. If you ride between Wednesday and Saturday, you might find yourself sitting next to a mystery brewer.