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Commence the Final Countdown for Kalamazoo Craft Beer Festival!

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Kalamazoo Beer Festival logo

What started as an internship project with Wings Event Center has grown into an annual event for local and national microbreweries.

Wings Event Center and Townsquare Media will host the third Kalamazoo Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 1- 6 p.m. It will be a day that combines beer tasting, specialty tappings, food and beer pairing classes, and activities.

“The beer scene in Kalamazoo has grown exponentially in the past decade. New breweries and microbreweries are popping up on every block, and with them the rise of novelties like TagaBrewTM which includes collecting Michigan/beer bottle charms with a TagaBrew tag,” said Kaitlin Feddema, Marketing Associate for Wings Event Center.

Feddema went on to share, “Then there’s the Kalamazoo Give a CraftTM Beer Trail, a fun way to experience Kalamazoo’s beer scene, and of course Kalamazoo Beer Week, and more!”

So, What Exactly is Craft Beer? Craft beer means different things, to different people but there are three criteria’s that make a beer “craft.” According to the Brewers Association, Craft Beer is “Small, Independent, and Traditional.”

What does that really mean - small is when a craft beer producer makes fewer than 6 million barrels each year. While that might sound like a lot, most craft brewers make considerably less than this threshold.

An independent craft beer is when less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer.

And traditional is a brewer who has either an all malt flagship, or 50% of its volume in either all malt beers, or beers which use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor.

With the rise in Kalamazoo craft beer, the Wings Event Center team saw a need for an annual event. In 2014, 1,540 people attended. Year two, attendance was up over 1,800. The festival also steadily grew the number of breweries represented from 51 in 2014, to more than 70 in 2015.

This year, guests can mingle with on-site brewers, and sample among 350+ beers, ciders, and meads (a beverage which results from an ancient creation of fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops).

Also returning will be crowd activity favorites, like keg curling, a game played on ice with empty beer kegs instead of traditional curling equipment and then there’s the game of Hammerschlagen, played with, guess what? A hammer, nails, your left hand, and of course a beer!

Wait there’s more - join in pretzel necklace-building, or the cornhole tournament while you listen to live music by The Electric Red.

“We're expecting around 2,000 participants this year, along with more than 80 breweries from both Michigan and beyond!” said Feddema. “We do not charge brewers to take part in this festival, and have always operated under a ‘first come, first serve’ approach.”

Look for a full list of breweries at www.kalamazoocraftbeerfestival.com along with Burdick's Beer Club specialty beers. Fans can also follow on Facebook to find sneak peeks at the offered beers, and other features of the festival. View admission fees.

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