Ten Reasons to Participate in
“Cool Brews. Hot Eats.” 2014 in Grand Rapids

Save your appetite – Cool Brews. Hot Eats. starts on February 17, 2014! For the second year in a row, Grand Rapids chefs prepare to wow the masses with two weeks of unique menu items, off-the-wall beer and food pairings and putting a twist on eating out in Beer City USA. Here are 10 reasons to participate in this year’s event from Experience Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rpaids

1. It’s year two!  In case you weren’t involved last year, Cool Brews. Hot Eats. (CBHE) was born in 2013 as a community opportunity to celebrate the rich brewing culture we’ve cultivated in West Michigan.  It’s a chance for chefs and brewers to meet in the middle and concoct wacky pairings that will truly boggle your palette.  It’s also a chance to draw attention to some restaurants that utilize beer year round.

2. Cider is in!  This year, the powers at be have also encouraged chefs to utilize the abundance of local cideries to try a menu item with hard cider.  This is truly great news if you’re gluten free or not a huge beer lover. Check out One Trick Pony’s Cider Charcuterie option.

3. There’s no pricing structure that restaurants have to follow!  During Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids, many chefs prepare amazing meals based on a decided “two-for $” price, which can limit the ingredient options for chefs and the capacity to sample for the guest.  For CBHE, you can get one collaboration item off the menu to try, and hop all over town eating as many menu features as you can handle.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

4. On the other hand, these two weeks could be your chance to attend a full beer dinner affordably.  At an assortment of participating businesses, you can enjoy the full cooking with beer experience in five courses, aka the commitment meal.  Check out Amore Trattoria Italiana’s five course Beercentric Menu for a delicious example.

5. As part of the Grand Rapids Beer Week leading up to Winter Beer Festival, Experience Grand Rapids is excited to release the Beer City Ale Trail Map to the public!  This map features an extensive listing of the finest breweries, wineries and cideries around, so make sure you grab one when you’re ready to hit the Ale Trail.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

6. Everybody’s doing it! The whole city is rallying behind our proud Beer City banner in the week leading up to Winter Beer Festival.  This is the second year Grand Rapids has won Beer City USA and the week warming up to it is expected to be big for beer tourism around the city and surrounding areas.

7. Tap Takeovers! These will be all over town so ask your bartender where to head next.  For example, the Mitten Brewing Co. and Our Brewing Co. will be taking over at The Green Well, who reportedly use 7-10 gallons of beer every week in their cookery!

8. Hotels are on board the beer train as well.  The Marriott Springhill Suites North is including Beer City pint glasses at check in, or check out CityFlats Hotel for a complimentary growler and fill at check-in.  Click here to check out other participating hotels.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

9. Many of these collaborations include locally sourced, Michigan focused foods. From Bistro Bella Vita to Bobarino’s, these collaborations are another chance for local chefs to source as much as possible from the Mitten state!  Try Frank’s Kielbasa, locally smoked cheddar cheese, or the “Tim Allen” at Derby Station – a Pure Michigan Turkey burger filled with diced bacon, Derby Spice Blend, topped with Tandoori sweet potato fries, jalapeno mango aioli, avocado salsa and Mud Lake Farms mixed greens on a Little Rooster Brioche Bun.

10. There are so many great restaurants in the Grand Rapids area. Why not break up winter and try a few during these two weeks?  Click here to see a full list of participating restaurants and their menus. Try not to drool!

For more information on Cool Brews. Hot Eats. 2014 and other winter events in Grand Rapids, check out the video below.

Did you attend Cool Brews. Hot Eats. 2013? Tell us about your experience. Let us know if you’ll be at this year’s event!

Author: Lyndsay Israel originated in Northern Michigan and is now a dedicated Grand Rapids resident.  When she grows up, the plan is to teach high school English and Chemistry classes.  She writes to show how much she loves the mitten state!  Look for her articles at The Awesome Mitten and Experience GR, or follow her on Twitter @lyndsayisrael.

Ann Arbor: A Clear Choice for Beer City USA 2013

We’ve heard from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids on why they should get your vote for Beer City USA 2013, and today Ann Arbor makes their case. Read from Maricat Eggenberger of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau below.

Ann Arbor is pleased to join our friends in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo as one of three Michigan cities in Charlie Papazian’s 2013 BeerCity USA poll. We’re thrilled other cities have discovered craft beer, but Ann Arbor – a town historically full of German immigrants – is unmatched in its long history of celebrating serious suds.

According to Papazian, BeerCity USA is about “[l]ocal support of the final sum, which is the enthusiasm for beer choice, diversity, flavor and accessibility. Most importantly it highlights ‘beer’ as the meeting place.” Ann Arbor excels in all these areas.

Local Support

Ann Arbor supports three brewpubs, two microbreweries (with a third on the way), and a plethora of multitap bars and restaurants committed to serving craft beer.

Although “supports” doesn’t really capture the enthusiasm. Grizzly Peak has been Michigan’s No. 1 selling brewpub for the past five years, according to Michigan Beer Guide. Arbor Brewing serves not only its own award-winning beers but has hosted often-sold-out monthly tastings of beers from around the world for more than 15 years. Both were among Michigan’s first brewpubs when they opened in 1995.

Enthusiasm for Beer Choice, Diversity, Flavor, and Accessibility

Ann Arbor is second to none in embracing beer diversity. For example:

  • For 30 years beer lovers have found a huge variety at the 72 taps of Ashley’s, recognized as one of America’s best beer bars by DRAFT magazine, Travel & Leisure, Men’s Health, and RateBeer.com.
  • Jolly Pumpkin Café & Brewery serves the coveted sour ales brewed just down the road in its newly expanded Dexter facility. Jolly Pumpkin’s Oro de Calabaza was ranked No. 1 in a 2010 New York Times Belgian-style ale tasting. The Ann Arbor café is one of the only places to get special releases, which always sell out in hours.
  • Wolverine State Brewing is one of the few craft breweries in America to specialize in lagers, and their efforts have resulted not just in medals in competitions like the World Expo of Beer but in multiple expansions since opening in late 2010.

Beer as A Meeting Place

Whether at a 50-year-old neighborhood joint like Fraser’s Pub or the city’s newest hotspot, Bill’s Beer Garden, meeting over beers is just what people do in Ann Arbor. In the summer, sidewalks and rooftops transform into oases of craft brew and lively conversation. Other examples:

  • The Ann Arbor Brewers Guild has been meeting to exchange homebrew and camaraderie since 1986.
  • Since 1948 the German Park Club has hosted picnics attracting thousands to its old-fashioned beer garden full of great German brew, music, and food.
  • The state’s oldest and largest beer fest, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival, brings more than 10,000 enthusiasts to the area every July.

Local beer writer David Bardallis sums up: “For a community atmosphere, people truly knowledgeable about beer, and a ‘beer ethic’ that views our favorite beverage as part of a life well lived, you can’t beat Ann Arbor.”

But don’t just believe me, Bardallis adds. Listen to one-time Ann Arbor resident Larry Bell, who founded his famous brewery with equipment purchased from another Ann Arbor area resident: “I’ve always thought Ann Arbor had a great beer scene.”

The choice is clear: Vote Ann Arbor for Beer City USA!

Maricat Eggenberger is the Communications Manager for the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She’s a proud Michigander that loves traveling and anything eco-friendly!

We’re proud to see these three Michigan cities in the running. Voting runs through 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Who’s your pick for Beer City USA?

Eight Reasons to Vote Kalamazoo as Beer City USA 2013

We’re thrilled to see three Michigan cities in the running for Beer City USA 2013 – Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Last week, we heard what makes Grand Rapids a great pick, and today Greg of Discover Kalamazoo makes the case for his city. Read his thoughts below and look out for a post from Ann Arbor later this week!

As you likely know, the annual competition to be named “Beer City USA” is underway.  Voting continues until 1:59 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, 2013. 

While there are many worthy destinations being considered for this annual recognition (including our friends in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids), let me share with you eight reasons why Kalamazoo deserves your consideration (and vote) to be named Beer City USA 2013:

    • Kalamazoo is home to Bell’s – the oldest craft brewery east of Colorado. It’s the largest brewery in Michigan, the 7th largest craft brewery (and 14th largest brewery) in the nation, and home to three of the top 18 beers in the world for 2013 (ratebeer.com).
    • Kalamazoo was ranked No. 4 in the Top 10 Beer Cities (livability.com), one of the Top 10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers (The Street) and has one of the largest, and quite possibly the largest (in terms of number of events), Beer Week Celebrations in Michigan.
    • Imperial Beverage was named the 2010 Craft Beer Distributor of the Year by the National Wholesalers Association and the Brewers Association, and was the creator of Kalamazoo Beer Week (the 3rd annual event, held in January 2013, had 147 events over an eight-day period)
    • Kalamazoo Beer Exchange was ranked as the No. 1 Bar in Michigan (ratebeer.com).
    • Craft-Beer Centric locations such as Central City Tap House, the Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Old Burdick’s and Shakespeare’s Pub offer a significant number of craft beers at their establishments (with the Centre City Tap House opening later this year).
    • Restaurants producing their own craft beer include Bell’s Eccentric Café, Bilbo’s Pizza, Bravo! Restaurant and Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant.
    • Alamo Drafthouse has chosen Kalamazoo as the location for its first Michigan theatre. Alamo Drafthouse Kalamazoo will open in 2013 and offer 10 theatres, where you can enjoy food and craft beer while watching a mix of the latest releases and all-time favorites. “Kalamazoo reminds me a lot of our hometown of Austin with its strong economy, large university, great beer scene and solid arts community,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League said.  We are very excited about this opportunity and to become a part of the neighborhood.”
    • By the end of 2013, five new craft brewers will be opening in Kalamazoo (including Arcadia Brewing, Boatyard Brewing, Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing, Latitude 42 and Rupert’s Brew House).

    While all of these facts, figures, rankings and acknowledgments are great to have received and earned, it is really the culture of the craft beer scene in Kalamazoo which gives us tremendous community pride.

Please share with everyone you know one very simple domain: www.VoteKalamazoo.com.  If you decide to leave comments while you are voting, please keep them positive about why Kalamazoo should be selected as Beer City USA 2013.  One vote per IP address is permitted.  We invite you to like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/beer4kzoo), follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/beer4kzoo) and join us in raising a #Beer4Kzoo!

Greg Ayers is the President/CEO of Discover Kalamazoo, the official destination marketing organization representing Kalamazoo County.  More information about Discover Kalamazoo is available at www.discoverkalamazoo.com.

Who’s getting your vote for Beer City USA 2013? Read from Grand Rapids here and look out for a post from Ann Arbor in the coming days!