The logistics of an event like a beer week anywhere would never happen without a great number of people pulling together to make it happen. As the beer week in Kalamazoo has grown over the past few years the number of events have grown immensely. Try as you might you can’t be everywhere.
My personal view has been throughout to find myself where I knew I would have a chance to talk to the people involved with the breweries represented, if not the brewers then at least their ambassadors. At times it may have been little more than a passing moment as I needed to rush off to a different location (sometimes clear across town). These past 6 days for me have been no less than a marathon (don’t worry, if you have missed other parts this week there are still a couple more days of beer week left).
There have been a few moments over this past week where I have had the opportunity to spend some time catching up with those I have known in the past and meeting new friends that I hope to run into again. As always it is Kalamazoo Beer Week, you never know what might happen (this is gonna catch on I just know it).
|Although this is Central City Taphouse, we have here
Ben and Trevor from Paw Paw and Russ from Right Brain
My week started on Saturday night at O’Duffy’s. I was there specifically to catch Right Brain. The place was packed so when Russ made it inside it came to pretty much some quick small talk before he needed to become one with the crowd. As the schedule dictated I couldn’t spend too long so I was soon back on the move. Before I even made it to the door I ran into Ben from Paw Paw Brewing. Times like this only happen during beer week.
|Jarred Sper Perrin Brewery|
That next stop was at Shakespeare’s to meet up with Jarred Sper from Perrin Brewing. This was my first time ever meeting him and still I have not yet been to the brewery. But their chocolate porter was quite tasty. Though Shake’s was still pretty crowded we were able to spend some time talking beer. I was impressed by his humble attitude as the new guy in town (Perrin has only been open since September).
Moving into other moments through the week, we come to time with the ambassadors (Michael Malachowski (national sales) is on the right)for Epic Brewing out of Utah. I know beer out of Utah sounds crazy right. But that was just what we spent some time talking about. Currently the laws in Utah will not allow beers over 3.2% to be served on draft. But bottles can go much bigger. And that is just what they are doing at Epic. As a benefit in Michigan we can get their beers on draft.
As an added bonus, Andrew Van Til from Imperial Beverage showed up and spent time at the table. Andrew has the distinction of being not only the very first Master Cicerone but also one out of only 6 who currently hold that title. You don’t very often get an opportunity to talk candidly with a Master Cicerone about the testing and what it takes to reach that level.
The craziness of beer week brought in another great conversation. At a point when I ran into rick from Brewery Vivant I found Kristopher Malling from Cowslip Creamery. Earlier this year they had made a cheese, similar to a tellegio that was aged with a wash of Solitude from Brewery Vivant. The cheese was amazing and of course went amazingly well with Solitude.
This of course, was a great opportunity to not only talk about fermentation as it pertains to cheese but also some of the trials and tribulations involved with cheese making. Brewery Vivant’s French and Belgian style beers are such a perfect fit with other french staples like great cheeses.
Yet another great moment where I got some time to spend with a brewer came when I met up with some of the team from Arcadia. Dave Sippel (far right in the picture) is the new Director of Brewing Operations, coming to Michigan from Victory Brewing out of Pennsylvania. We spent some time reflecting on his time at Victory and his transition to Michigan. In case you were wondering, the 16th anniversary ale that came out for the Highland Christmas party in December did come from him. Just from that alone we can look forward to some really great beers ahead.
This really sums up times like beer week for me. It is a chance to catch the brewers, owners, ambassadors at a time when they are in a space where they can feel comfortable talking about their love of beer and how it has affected their life. There aren’t the day to day distractions of work to deal with right there in their faces. When you sit down to have a beer with someone you have having more than just the liquid in the glass. You are sharing a moment that has existed for thousands of years. This is something you will only find at the bottom of the glass when the beer and the conversation leaves you sated.
Some random pictures to carry us through….