Currents events, gatherings, tastings, all around good times.

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ST. JOSEPH – If you’ve never really understood or desired to partake in the frenzy of Black Friday shopping, West MI Beer Tours is offering an alternative way to spend the day after Thanksgiving.

The brewery tour service is hosting a tour of three of the newest West Michigan breweries on Friday, Nov. 27. Guests will register for the tour at Buck Burgers & Brew in St. Joseph, where they will sample a flight of the highly sought-after varieties of Goose Island’s Bourbon County, a bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout.

Then, guests will have the opportunity to visit Tapistry Brewing, Cultivate Brewing Company, and Arclight Brewing, where they can taste samples and share pints while talking with the staff and touring the facilities. Once the tour is finished, guests are welcome to explore St. Joseph.

Tickets for the tour start at $59.

Those who aren’t from around St. Joseph can take advantage of a special rate being offered by the Hilton Garden Inn for guests of the tour. The tour will include optional pick-up and drop-off for guests who stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. Call (269) 926-5000 ext 4605 to book a room.

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FRANKFORT – Writing for beer is something we at MittenBrew.com obviously endorse. We do it every day. So when we heard about Stormcloud Brewing Company’s creative story writing contest, we were understandably excited.

In celebration of the annual release of Gerald’s Talking Dog, a Belgian Rye Dubbel fermented with a mix of sweet and tart Michigan cherries, Stormcloud is encouraging the creatives in its audience to put pen to paper. They want stories about Gerald’s Talking Dog.

The rules are simple. Stories are required to be a “creative undertaking, meant to captivate and entertain,” be titled “Gerald’s Talking Dog,” and begin with the following first line: “Gerald’s Talking Dog love cherries. That’s all he talks about.” What happens next? You decide, in 500 words or less. Deadline for submissions is noon on Friday, Dec. 4.

All entries will be read by a panel of esteemed judges, including Jeff Smith, editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and MyNorth.com, Lynda Twardowski Wheatley, creative copywriter and author of more than a dozen books and over 350 articles for various newspapers, magazines, and websites, and Jordan Bates, the co-owner and editor of The Betsie Current. The top three stories they choose will be presented at a public reading in the Stormcloud pub on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

First place wins a one-year Cloudspotter membership, a $50 Stormcloud Brewing Company gift card, and a Stormcloud growler and fill. Second place gets a $25 Stormcloud gift card and a growler with fill. Third place gets a $15 Stormcloud gift card.

For more details about the contest and where to submit, visit Stormcloud’s website.

ANN ARBOR — The holidays have a way of inspiring people to do good deeds. Usually, they don’t involve simply sitting down and enjoying a burger and a beer. Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. would like to change that.

Throughout November, Grizzly Peak is offering to donate a portion of the sales of the “ChadTough” burger. Every ChadTough burger sold will raise money for the ChadTough Fund, which aims to boost funding for pediatric brain tumor research, with a focus on diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. The ChadTough Fund was established in honor of former University of Michigan head football coach Lloyd Carr’s grandson, Chad Carr.

The burger in question will only be available for the month of November and features a charbroiled beef patty topped with grilled ham, Swiss cheese, diced pickles, and cilantro mustard aioli. Head Brewer Duncan Williams says it pairs excellently with a pint of the brewery’s Sheerwater IPA or Urban War Bear American IPA.

The newly renovated Grizzly Peak also has a brand new menu, featuring long-time Grizzly Peak favorites and new options like the 2AM Burger and Chorizo and Manchego Pizza.

 

German Translation: Grand Opening Celebration

CEDAR SPRINGS – Cedar Springs Brewing Company, a German-inspired, family-friendly microbrewery will soon be warming the heart of Main Street in Cedar Springs.

The brewery’s grand opening celebration will begin on Friday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. with a ribbon cutting and ceremonial first pour.

The festivities will continue throughout the weekend as they unveil the full menu for the first time. While Head Chef and “Curator of Culinary Creation” Shaun Wooden’s main focus will be traditional Bavarian cuisine, the menu will feature a wide variety of food, including a kid’s menu. Once inside, Grand Rapids natives may recognize panels from the former downtown Schnitzelbank restaurant within the microbrewery walls; a nod to the rich German history within Beer City.

The microbrewery will offer a unique bar menu featuring Lagers, Pilsners, Hefeweizens, Pale Ales… oh my! alongside Cedar Cider and Vino131 Wine. For the under-21 group and drivers among us, Cedar Springs Brewing is also offering Old Cedar Creek soda, which includes almost as many flavors as the styles on their beer tap list. The tap list will be updated in real-time on their Facebook page, complete with information on how much of each style of beer is actually left, thanks to the wonderful world of technology – and digitalpour.com

Cedar Springs Brewing’s Head Brewer and “Barley, Malt and Hops Wrangler” Matt Peterson is utilizing traditional German open-fermentation methods to brew Lagers, and will also brew Ales on their 15-barrel brew system with a capacity of 1500 barrels per year. The brewing system didn’t have far to travel, as it came from Psycho Brew out of Belding, Michigan.

In the spring, a Bier Garden will feature a brick patio with trees and tables that will expand seating and face the White Pine Trail, greeting runners, bikers, and even snowmobilers in the winter.

Since Owner and ”Director of Happiness” David Ringler broke ground on this authentic German microbrewery back in October 2014, his goal remains the same: to be a family-friendly, laid-back restaurant, and microbrewery for the community of Cedar Springs—a place where friends can get together to enjoy a meal and a beer after a sporting event, or heading in or out of Beer City, Grand Rapids.

Cedar Springs Brewing Company is located at 95 North Main Street in Cedar Springs.

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GRAND RAPIDS – The Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild, Michigan Distillers Guild, and Experience GR are teaming up to host 11 days of cocktail appreciation starting this week.

From Nov. 11-22, Grand Rapids residents and visitors can take advantage of restaurant specials, educational opportunities, and tastings all celebrating Michigan’s burgeoning craft spirit culture.

Throughout the duration of the event, called Grand Rapids Cocktail Week, 29 participating venues will offer a special on two cocktails made with Michigan plus a shared appetizer for $25 or less.

The Bistro, for instance, will have a Blackberry Basil Old Fashioned made with New Holland’s Walleye Rye and a Salted Caramel Mocha Martini crafted with Journeyman Distillery’s organic Red Arrow Vodka and Snaggle Tooth Coffee Liqueur. You can enjoy these two cocktails alongside a plate of roasted butternut squash or smoked duck tartlet. Or you can visit one of Grand Rapids’s own distilleries, like Long Road Distillers, and try two hand-crafted cocktails made with in-house liquor and Michigan ingredients with a plate of short ribs or fall root vegetable flatbread.

But the week isn’t only about tasting; education is also a key component. Grand Rapids Public Museum will get in on the action with an exhibit titled “American Spirits: The Rise & Fall of Prohibition.” Put your imbibing into perspective by finding out why America went “dry” in the first place and then why alcohol regained legality 13 years later.

The museum will also host the Iron Bartender Final Championship on Nov. 18. Six bartenders, all winners of the past six Iron Bartender challenges, will go head-to-head to see who can craft the best cocktail.

To close out the series, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (UICA) will pair up with Downtown Market to host a class and movie combination event called “Hey Bartender” through Big Screen Cuisine on Nov. 22. The event will start in the Downtown Market teaching kitchen, where lecturers from the Grand Rapids Cocktail Guild will discuss the history, practice, and technique that go into making cocktails. There will be snacks and sampling. Afterward, attendees will convene at the UICA movie theater to watch the documentary “Hey Bartender.”

These key events only scratch the surface of activities taking place during the week. Businesses throughout the Grand Rapids area will be hosting a variety of cocktail-related events. For a comprehensive list, check out the Experience GR website.

 

ADA – Veteran homebrewers, novices, and people-who-just-want-to-drink-beer-outside alike are invited to the first Learn To Homebrew Day hosted at Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply.

The brewery and homebrew supply shop is bringing the American Homebrewer’s Association (AHA) event to Ada Nov. 7.

The free event will last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include at least nine industry professionals hosting discussions about their specialties. The topics are as broad as the whole process of homebrewing and as specific as yeast health.

Nine homebrewers have also been invited to bring their equipment on premise to demonstrate their personal processes. Throughout the day, the brewers will make the same recipe on their own systems as attendees look on.

“Some of these guys go far out; it’s pretty cool to see,” said Chrissy Walker, homebrew supply manager at Gravel Bottom. “Then you have other people who are just going to bring their little burner and a little pot.”

In addition to the educational parts of the event, attendees will be able to enter a raffle and the store will be hosting a one-day fall sale on homebrewing equipment.

Walker emphasized that the event isn’t just for veteran and novice homebrewers—it’s for anyone who wants to know more about beer.

“I think the more knowledge we can get out there on how to properly taste beer and what goes into brewing beer, the more you’re going to enjoy it,” said Walker.

Matt Michiels, owner of Gravel Bottom, said he felt the goals of AHA’s Learn to Homebrew event mirror Gravel Bottom’s mission statement.

“That’s really what we’re trying to do. Bring to people the experience of brewing, and a creative environment where you can learn about the sport,” said Michiels.

“That’s how it all started in my backyard—brewing beer with my friends and drinking the beer,” he said. “I’m excited to have that environment here.”

Whether they go to learn about the art (or science, or “sport,” as Michiels would have it) of homebrewing or just to enjoy the camaraderie in the brewing community, Walker has one warning for potential attendees:

“Caution: brewing does cause more friends,” she laughed. “I’m gonna throw that out there.”

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GRAND RAPIDS – Kent District Library is hosting a series of informational programs about wine and cider tasting and making. There are still a number KDL Uncorked events hosted by local wine and cider experts to participate in.

The events are opportunities to learn about and taste local wine and cider. Steve Siciliano, owner of Siciliano’s Market will teach Winemaking 101 courses at a few different library locations. Karen Grossman will host a wine tasting and presentation at her winery, Kayla Rae Cellars. Jason Lummen, owner of The People’s Cider Co., will host a tour and tasting at his cidery.

And for those who are interested in an event that marries the librarian and sommelier in them, Allie Merrick, co-host of the video series “My Wine Words,” will hold an event wherein she pairs wines with literary works.

A complete list of the KDL Uncorked events from the KDL blog is viewable below.

KDL Uncorked: Winemaking 101 Join wine aficionado Steve Siciliano, owner of Siciliano’s Market, as he talks about the ins and outs of making wine at home. Learn about the basic equipment and procedures needed for making wine from concentrated kits, as well as with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tuesday, October 13, 6:00 PM, Tyrone Township Branch

Tuesday, October 27, 6:00 PM, Caledonia Township Branch

Monday, November 16, 6:00 PM, Englehardt/Lowell Branch

KDL Uncorked: Wine Tasting at Kayla Rae Cellars Enjoy buy-one-get-one tastings and a presentation by winery owner Karen Grossman on how current wine and cider selections were developed, created and refined. Participants must be 21 or older. Pre-registration is required and spots are limited.

Wednesday, October 21, 6:30 PM, 31 Courtland St. NE Rockford

KDL Uncorked: The People’s Cider Co. Tour and Tasting Discover a fresh take on craft beverages in West Michigan. Jason Lummen, owner and creator of The People’s Cider Co., will give a tour and provide free tastings of their Traditional Barrel Aged Ciders. Tastings are free and $4 half pints will be available for purchase. For adults ages 21 and older.

Tuesday, October 20, 6:00 PM, 600 Maryland Ave NE, Suite B Grand Rapids

KDL Uncorked: Wine & Words with Allie Merrick A perfect pairing of bottles and books. Join Allie Merrick, co-host of My Wine Words, as she pairs wine with literary works. Read and sip between the lines in a unique wine experience. Pre-Registration is required. For adults ages 21 and older.

Wednesday, October 28, 6:00 PM, East Grand Rapids Branch

Thursday, November 19, 6:00 PM, Kentwood/Richard L. Root Branch

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AUGUSTA – The days for golf in Michigan are numbered, but a local golf club and beer tour company are pairing up to make the most of them.

West Michigan Beer Tours and the Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort are hosting the first-ever West Michigan Craft Beer Open Oct. 16-18. The weekend will feature three days of golf, two nights spent in the resort, two separate beer tours covering six different breweries, and more.

Prospective attendees can look forward to enjoying the changing fall colors and a relaxing weekend of beer and golf. Attendees can choose which events they’d like to participate in, with ticket options starting at $54. For more information about participating breweries and the schedule of events, visit the West Michigan Beer Tours website.