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Bryan Esler

KD aLe mixes beer knowledge with book smarts

on February 5 | in Event Coverage, West | by | with No Comments

GRAND RAPIDS — Libraries are a gathering space, a way to exchange and garner information, to learn something new, or to learn something more. And in Michigan, what could be more logical than wanting to learn more about beer?

Kent District Library, a public library system comprised of 18 branches that serves residents throughout Kent County, is known for their extensive family and kid-friendly programming. They were looking to do something a little more grown-up.

“We had been looking for ideas for more adult programs. We do have programming specifically for adults but it tends to be things like quilting, sowing. We were getting a lot of people in looking for books on homebrewing, so we said, why not look into this?” Morgan Jarema, a Communications Assistant at KDL, said.

Jarema and her colleagues hit the mark, and the KD aLe Series was born.

Eight events held throughout this winter include beer tastings, brewery tours and home brewing 101 sessions. “We’ve had two events so far. The first event, a ‘Backstage Pass’ tour of Rockford Brewing Company, had sixty people show up, which is huge for us, and more than Rockford expected.”

Jarema laughs. “They [the guys at Rockford] are really passionate about what they do, and they spent a long time with the tours. They couldn’t get people to shut up! It was great.”

Rockford will play host to another tour on Feb. 19, and Schmohz will host today. The tours are open to anyone — just show up, and look for the people with the books. If you can’t make to Schmohz, join the GR Makers as they host ‘Home Brewing 101’ at the Grandville Branch. Learn from long time home brewers, and mingle with others who share your interests. Two more home brewing sessions are scheduled for later in the month at other branches

Fred Bueltmann of New Holland hosted a beer tasting just last week, and will host another on Feb. 13.

“Both beer tastings maxed out on registrations — pretty quickly. When you pair the word ‘free’ with the word ‘beer’, they go pretty fast,” says Jerema. However, you can put your name on the waiting list and cross your fingers.

KDL hopes to expand upon this series in the future. Evaluations from the past two events are encouraging, and ripe with suggestions — as was Fred Beltman from New Holland. Will there be a beer and cheese ‘smackdown’ in KDL’s future? It’s possible. 

If you are looking for a good beer book, visit KDL’s Pinterest site, maintained by KDL librarian who knows her beer, Ms. Penny Speets, for some suggestions. Utilize your public library. Attend a brewery tour, learn about home brewing, and help to shape programming like this yet to come. 

“What’s great about this [series] is that they are true socializing events, which you don’t really see at all of the other adult programs,” says Jarema. “You want to get adults to hang out together at a library, give them beer.”

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