West Michigan Beer Tours was fortunate enough to be part of a robust celebration of Michigan craft beer in Kalamazoo on Sept. 14.
We took a colorful group to a craft beer-loving restaurant, a trio of breweries and ended at the premiere of Rhino Media Productions‘ documentary, “The Michigan Beer Film.” We were joined on the tour by the King and Queen of Michigan craft beer writing in Rex and Mary Halfpenny, who founded the Michigan Beer Guide in 1997, years before the current brewery explosion.
The tour started at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill with lunch, pints and samples. General manager Ryan Cunningham talked to the group about the restaurant’s improved emphasis on Michigan craft beer and hinted at a few things to come at the downtown hangout.
We then trucked to Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in the midst of its 28th anniversary celebration, which included a homebrewing competition, a hot dog eating contest and the sweet sounds of the traditional German band, Ein Prosit. Following pints and a brief presentation about new developments at Bell’s, including a few enticing tidbits about this spring’s canning possibilities, we made way a couple blocks north to Boatyard Brewing Co.
Co-owners Dan Gilligan and Brian Steele, as always, greeted us with open arms, grins and a slew of samples, including the 2013 Centennial Harvest Harvey Ale using Michigan-grown hops from Hop Head Farms and a new barrel-aged offering. Several of us purchased our membership on Boatyard’s Yacht Club, or its version of a mug club that offers discounts on pints, growler fills and schwag. After a less-than-3-hour tour from Gilligan, we loaded back on the bus to Paw Paw Brewing Co.
Despite being swamped helping with that night’s premiere, the crew at Paw Paw gave us a private tasting and tour of its production facility near St. Julian Winery. We also were given an idea for their plans of creating a haunt that will be included in our Halloween Beer Tour on Oct. 25.
We made the quick drive back downtown to Kalamazoo to join the masses lining up outside the Kalamazoo State Theatre for the movie premiere. The event was a who’s who of Michigan beer.
Be sure to check out the Oct. 25 tour, which we’ve tabbed as five hours of frights and flights. We’ll have seasonal beers, haunted attractions, more beer and a tour of a haunted brewery.