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!

Three Reasons Why Grand Rapids is Beer City USA

Home to 15 different breweries (and counting), the top beer grocery retailer in the nation and a number of brewery tour options, it’s no secret that the Grand Rapids beer scene is booming. Today, Blair Giesken of Experience Grand Rapids gives us an inside look at what makes Grand Rapids Beer City USA.

Read her post below and let us know what you love most about the Grand Rapids beer scene! And don’t forget that we’re giving fans the chance to choose a Pure Michigan beer style to be featured on tap at Founders Brewing Co. this July. Click here to vote for your pick.

Grand Rapids is no stranger to delicious craft beer.  It’s a city that proudly serves up big name breweries like the 3rd best brewery on the planetand the #1 brewpub in America, alongside rare finds that dot the outskirts of the city.  A place where small-scale experimental home brewers taste and tinker right alongside master brewers from some of the nation’s most acclaimed names in beer.

#1. Grand Rapids is home to the top beer grocery retailer in the U.S.

These brewers, whether by hobby or by profession, work together to create a blend of beer culture in Grand Rapids that is absolutely unmatched.  “Most of the folks who open breweries were at one time home brewers,” points out Steve Siciliano, owner of Siciliano’s Market.  Named 2013’s Top Beer Grocery Retailer in the United States, Siciliano’s provides one of the largest craft & imported beer selections in West Michigan, along with homebrewing supplies for enthusiastic hobbyists. “Home brewers and breweries feed off each other: there’s a wonderful synergy at work.”

#2. Grand Rapids has 15 different breweries (and counting!)

It’s easy to see why these breweries and pubs collaborate so well— no two are any bit alike.  There are raved-about Grand Rapids’ staples like Founders Brewing Co. and Brewery Vivant that now offer guided brewery tours on Saturdays to give guests insider access to the magic behind the brewing process.  But there are also newcomers who continue to invigorate the beer scene with their unconventional brews and cozy atmospheres.  Take Mitten Brewing Co., a Detroit Tigers-centric baseball themed brewery inside a historic firehouse, where the beers come with names like Crackerjack Porter.  Or Harmony Brewing Co. in East Town, where the focus is on crafting small, balanced batches of beer paired with rustic wood-fired pizzas inside a once-abandoned former party store.  Back downtown is the newly revitalized Grand Rapids Brewing Co., brought back as a modernized version of its original glory by the owners of world-renowned HopCat, who transformed the space just 6 blocks from the original brewery’s location into the Midwest’s first USDA Certified Organic Brewery.

#3. Grand Rapids has unique brewery tours

With so many great beercation spots in Grand Rapids, you won’t even have to work at quenching your craft beer thirst.  There are plenty of creative, crazy – and yes, safe— ways to hit all the stops on your Brew To-Do list.  For instance, you can pedal your way to beer bicycling bliss on the 15-person Great Lakes Pub Cruiser, hop aboard a Grand Rapids Motor City Brew Tour from Detroit to get your first true taste of the Grand Rapids’ beer scene, or snag a GR Hopper Pass to jump safely and affordably from brewery to brewery.

Whether you’re interested in taking your passion for beer out of the brewpub and into the home, or just love to sample and explore the delicious craft beer possibilities, it’s clear that Grand Rapids is quickly becoming our nation’s beer destination.

Already know and love the Grand Rapids beer scene, or waiting (impatiently) to get a taste?  Help us hold our place in the hearts and minds of beer lovers everywhere by dropping your beer ballot for Grand Rapids into the 2013 Beer City USA voting box.  You can cast your votestarting next week (May 6-10) by going to experiencegr.com/votebeer!

Blair Giesken is the Marketing Content Manager for Experience Grand Rapids.  In her spare time she enjoys writing, designing, and taking advantage of the incredible craft beer and local music scene right in her own backyard.

Cheers to Michigan’s thriving craft brewing industry

In honor of Michigan Craft Beer Month, guest blogger Dianna Stampfler fills us in on our state’s beer industry and some upcoming Michigan beer festivals you don’t want to miss!

From coast to coast to coast, Michigan’s craft brewing industry is growing like a fast-acting yeast – with some 100 active breweries – with dozens of expansions and new brewery projects in various stations of development.  

Michigan has a long history of brewing – dating back to the 1800s around mining, lumbering and industrial towns throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. At one time, there were nearly 40 breweries operating in and around Detroit’s Eastern Market. Grand Rapids – recently named “Beer City USA” following a nation-wide online consumer poll – was home to a large number of beer barons throughout the 19th Century.

In recent years, Michigan beer has become even more local. Of course, water is a primary ingredient and being surrounded by the Great Lakes gives brewers access to some of the freshest tasting water to begin their brewing process. Add to that locally-grown hops and barley, as well as the addition of unique herbs, fruits – like beet sugar, cherries and apples, among others, and even vegetables, and the result is a pint-full of freshly fermented goodness! In fact, Michigan craft brewers produce more than 100 distinct styles of flavorful, award-winning beers.

Today’s breweries have become an active part of Michigan’s thriving tourism and culinary industries – under the guidance of the Michigan Brewers Guild, which was founded in 1997. A growing number of beer dinners, tours, festivals and other events are focused on this exciting brewing culture, collectively tapping into tens of thousands of fans from all walks of life.

July is Michigan Craft Beer Month – a time to celebrate these small, community-based businesses rich with passion and pride. There’s even a Michigan Beer Fight Song – a rallying tune sung at every Michigan Brewers Guild festival:

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For more information about Michigan’s craft beer industry, visit www.MiBeer.com or michigan.org.

UPCOMING MICHIGAN BREWERS GUILD FESTIVALS

Dianna Stampfler is a long-time promoter of Michigan and a supporter of the state’s vast culinary and agricultural offerings – including, but not limited to, craft beer!