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Kalamazoo Brewed Up the Fifth Annual Beer Week

Kalamazoo Beer Week logo

With 11 craft breweries and growing, Kalamazoo has made a name for itself as a national craft beer destination. In the midst of the fifth annual Kalamazoo Beer Week, Jan. 10-17, the excitement is gaining momentum.

Rest assured, there is never a dull moment-not with all the food pairings, tips for home brewing, multiple-course dinners, and word-of-mouth beer buzz. Tasting events at many specialty beer locations are available throughout the week in addition to those hosted in the pubs, restaurants, and unique venues. View the current list of 200+ events.

It all began when Imperial Beverage Distributors of Kalamazoo was named the Craft Beer Distributor of the Year in 2010. Anne Drummond, WMU alumnus and Imperial's Public Relations and Marketing Director, saw an opportunity.

"(With the award), the goal post moved," Drummond said. She and her team decided the best way to feature the craft beers in Kalamazoo was to hold Kalamazoo Beer Week and let folks taste for themselves.

The first year's festivities included 17 events in area bars and restaurants. The second year brought more than 100. It was also during the second year that Samuel Adams beer began sponsoring a pub crawl through Kalamazoo. And it just got better.

Last year, a special mascot of the Kalamazoo beer culture emerged from hibernation. He has been spotted at a number of events already this year, including Saturday's pub crawl.

Kalamazoo Beer Week mascot

Part deer and part bear, "Beer" is proud to be a symbol of Kalamazoo's fun and inviting culture, celebrating a growing demand in the local brewing industry. Beer said he awoke to some wonderful sights and smells last year, which was good, because he was thirsty! He followed his nose and the crowds to over 50 Kalamazoo venues serving food and fellowship around a very tasty beverage. No wonder he's back!

"I was pleased to learn how much flavor handcrafting with a pinch of love can add to the enjoyment of your drink order," Beer said. "And with 50 breweries from around the country all coming and going throughout the week there was certainly plenty to taste!"

While he stands out with his hybrid-like appearance, at the same time he blends in with the crowd. He thinks of himself as just another craft beer lover, known and noticed for their sense of community and unique eccentricities. You never know when he might pop in and join the fun. Wherever he appears he seems to generate conversation and excitement.

"Few can resist the invitation of a Beer hug," Beer said. "Or saying, 'Hey, check out the walking petting zoo!'"

Bearing a deep appreciation for all Kalamazoo beer, he has also been spotted at grand openings, special releases, and anniversaries of several local breweries. Some say he happened upon a tour of local downtown breweries during the month of July. This could be fabrication, as Beer is known to like his weather like he likes his beer: ice cold.

While there is a lot to be poured during the festivities, a return Beer Week participant understands fully that the best way to enjoy craft beer is in moderation. Plan ahead by assigning a designated driver, use this handy list to call for one, or check out area hotels and lodging facilities with specials just for Beer Week!

Beer's final advice? "The Kalamazoo Beer Week website lists every event that can be searched by brewery, venue, date, type of beer, and type of event! So go explore, plan your route, and be on the lookout for some wildlife during a wildly fun time in Kalamazoo!"

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