As West Michigan’s craft beer scene continues to grow, so too does the number of festivals that honor our microbrewery mecca. From brand-themed events like Founders Fest to Brewery Vivant’s style-specific Wood Aged Beer Fest, not to mention the nationally touring America on Tap, there is no shortage of opportunities for celebratory samplings.
The Kalamazoo Craft Beer Festival at Wings Event Center, now in its third year, boasts its own unique offerings to set it apart from the other beer fests in West Michigan. Not only can patrons sample dozens of different brews, they can also take part in beer and food pairing classes, catch some live music, watch college football on the 40-foot video screen, and play a number of different games including cornhole, Hammerschlagen and even keg curling.
“Our world famous Keg Curling Tournament is pretty awesome,” said Emilie VanderLaan, special events manager for Wings Event Center. “We leave a square of ice exposed for tournament participants to test out their curling skills with kegs. Let me say, kegs are not designed to curl, but it’s a blast to try! Helmets required.”
For those who are more interested in learning about beer than they are in fun and games, hand-picked specialty brews are tapped every 30 minutes and the brewers are around to talk about them in depth. Additionally, the beer and food pairing classes have been a favorite among attendees who enjoy educating their palates.
|Kalamazoo Craft Beer Festival
Wings Event Center
3600 Vanrick Dr., Kalamazoo
Nov. 5, 1 p.m.
$45, $65, $95
wingseventcenter.com, (269) 345-1125
“Beer and food pairing classes are complimentary for guests to attend, although they do require tokens toward the beer,” VanderLaan said. “We offer five sessions throughout the day and they fill up fast. Last year, they were taught by KVCC and the KALSEC Center for Sustainable Brewing Education.”
And while we all love and support our beer from right here in The Mitten, the Kalamazoo Craft Beer Festival opens its doors to breweries from all over, giving people the chance to taste something new.
“Many festivals in Michigan only allow Michigan breweries, whereas we have breweries from all over the country, and sometimes the world,” said VanderLaan. “This is an opportunity to talk with the brewery reps that aren’t around as often and try some beers you might not have otherwise.”
The KCBF also has a venue primed for the event’s specific needs. Not only does the Wings Event Center offer an indoor setting, saving you from the unpredictability of weather and Porta-Potty odor, it also has the capacity to grow as the event itself does, which VanderLaan says is definitely happening.
“Last year we expanded from one rink to two and from 47 breweries to more than 70,” she said. “There’s a lot more space here that we can grow into as the festival continues to expand.”