Spotlight: Central City Tap House
In a street mall that intersects Michigan Avenue, there are browsing customers and colorful storefronts. Toward the end of the mall lies Central City Tap House with its sun-bathed outdoor patio and split dining room and pub sections inside.
The dining room is geared more toward those who would like to sit and enjoy a quiet, higher-end meal, handcrafted by head chef Kirk McKinney. This side highlights dining and wine, but there is the option of exploring beers from the pub side.
Over at the pub, guests are welcomed by comfortable booths and tables; the walls are riddled with black-and-white pictures of long-ago Kalamazoo mixed with televisions for up-to-date sports action.
"We want people to feel relaxed and comfortable, almost like they were at home," said General Manager Brandon Banicki.
The food menu on the pub side is separate from the dining room and falls more along the line of Bistro fare. Banicki highly recommends checking out the house-made Bangers and Mash, as well as the Lamb Sliders.
There are two beer towers to choose from: American and Imported. The American tower boasts prime brews from all over North America, from Brooklyn Brewery and Ommegang all the way down to our own locals. Dragonmead, Bells and Arbor Brewing companies were all represented upon my visit. The taps and firkin rotate regularly, bringing in new, exciting beers for patrons to explore.
The Imported tower is where Central City really shines. This 10-tap tower holds some of the rarest draft beers available in the region.
"There's not many places in Kalamazoo that feature rotating import taps," Banicki said. "Most just stick to [national] craft beer."
Upon my visit, there was a tap of Piraat Ale, Chimay White, Troubadour's Obscura, La Trappe Quadrupel, and two taps from brewery Weihenstephaner, a famous German brewery that rarely makes it our way in keg form.
Visitors also have the option of creating their own flights from the American and Import taps. But the beer doesn't stop at the taps. Central City's bottle list is more than 80 strong, specializing in 750ml bottles from all over the world.
"It's amazing what you can find when you do a little hunting," Banicki said. "You won't find a lot of our bottles around restaurants in Kalamazoo."
Make sure to stop by on Sunday for half off on nearly the entire bottle list (750 ml bottles only).
At Central City, beer is respected. Proper glassware, pouring techniques and study is required of the staff to enable them to properly be able to teach customers about the beers on draft. Also, on the first Thursday of every month, there is a "meet the brewers" series, hosting brewers from all over and giving customers a unique opportunity to meet the hands behind the beer.
"This is a place where you can come, be comfortable and educate yourself about beer. You can ask questions and get a correct answer," Banicki said.
Central City Tap House is located at 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall in Kalamazoo; (269) 492-0100, millenniumrestaurants.com/central-city-tap-house
Photos: Alex Atkin
BEER of the Month: Dark Horse's Perkulator Doppelbock
Perkulator is Dark Horse's only distributed lager. Perfect for fall, Perkulator offers a wonderful aside from the usual fall beer releases. This brew pours as very dark amber with a ruby hue and a large, beige head. The nose is big and malty, with notes of dark fruit, caramel and soft coffee.
The beer goes down very smooth and is deceptively malty. The body maintains a bold malt presence for the style, while exhibiting notes of caramel, soft raisin and even touches on chocolate; all maintained amidst a prominent — but not overpowering — coffee note. The beer finishes a little dry and roasty, but provides a truly wonderful experience, all the way to the bottom. Perfect for a blustery Michigan fall. Cheers!
Dark Horse Brewing Company is located at 511 South Kalamazoo Ave. in Marshall; (269) 781-9940, darkhorsebrewery.com
The second annual UP Fall Beer Festival, hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild, is taking place in Marquette on Sept. 10 from 1-6 p.m. For more details and tickets see michiganbrewersguild.org.
The Frankenmuth Oktoberfest will take place Sept. 15-18 and is sponsored by Hofbrauhaus of Munich, Germany. For more info and tickets, see frankenmuthfestivals.com
Greenbush Brewing Co has opened its doors in Sawyer, Mich.