Around the corner near the railroad tracks in Depot Town you’ll find a sanctuary operating as a non-profit beer and coffee bar called Cultivate. Their name refers to developing connections and facilitating relationships within the neighborhood as much as it describes the gardening done on site that benefits local food charities. All profits and tips go toward fighting hunger.

From the moment the idea was planted they’ve involved the community, opening after a successful crowd-sourced campaign through Patronicity raised more than the original goal. Volunteers helped transform the space inside and out during the summer of 2015 leading to a soft opening serving coffee and tea in September. Approvals to serve beer came shortly after, and they celebrated their first anniversary of being fully open in October 2016.


Cultivate’s thirty six taps dispense some of the most sought-after brews and include a dedicated mead faucet featuring a selection from Schramm’s. In addition to generous pours at reasonable prices, a flight of 4 tastes is available for most of the offerings with the exception of certain high gravity or limited releases. Crowlers and growlers are available to go, as well as prepackaged bottles and cans from time to time. The latest listings can be found on BeerMenus.

Mug Club memberships are available for beer, coffee, or both. The beer program is $50 per year and entitles the holder to $1 off each beer ordered plus access to monthly interactive events with experts. February’s featured event is a Goose Island vertical tasting with a short discussion about cellaring and aging beer.

The knowledgeable staff behind the bar consists of paid employees and volunteers led by three directors who each bring an aspect of the vision to life; Bekah Wallace in charge of Community and Connections, Ryan Wallace taking care of the Beer and Business aspects, and Billy Kangas leading the Coffee and Causes portion. “We invest a good amount of time in training volunteers, helping them to get employment, and empowering them in the areas they are passionate about that help our city,” said Ryan Wallace.


Billy Kangas, Bekah Wallace, Ryan Wallace

People young and old flock to Cultivate for a wide range of reasons, from the impressive beer offerings to the ever-evolving list of activities and opportunities that take place there based on what the community desires. You can learn about year-round gardening, be tutored in physics, play chess and other board games, or simply sit and knit with others.

While there, you may hear jazz from local musicians, poetry and curated readings, or a group practicing conversational French. There’s a new moms meet up, an empty-nesters gathering, and one for the generation who are acting as caregivers for their aging parents. Planned events can be found on the large wall calendar in the taproom or on their Facebook page

There are a variety of baked goods and sandwiches available onsite to enjoy with the beverages. An expanded menu with larger artisan sandwiches and small plate offerings featuring up to 90% Michigan made and produced ingredients will be launched in March.

Recently the beer garden was transformed from a summer-only space to an enclosed area with patio heaters to accommodate the swells of patrons wishing to enjoy the sense of community while having a beer or two.

As Cultivate grows it is finding new ways of evolving and adapting to fulfill their mission of feeding the hungry. Over the summer the volunteer-tended garden in the back grew vegetables that were donated to Food Gatherers. Current projects include creating a “Hunger Map” for Washtenaw County, “which is a full assessment of both needs in our county and what non-profits are doing to meet those needs in what areas,” Ryan Wallace said. “Our goal is to create something that everyone can use in order to address the issue of hunger and to help us know what solutions we need to create moving forward,” he added.


Founders Brewing Co. announced today that Pale Joe, a pale ale brewed with coffee, will be released on draft and in 6-pack bottles this September. Proceeds from the sale of Pale Joe will go to benefit ArtPrize 2016, the world’s largest art competition held annually in Grand Rapids, MI.

Most coffee beers begin with a dark, stout or brown ale base. Not this one. Your eyes will tell you one thing, but your palate will tell you another. Light in color but full in flavor, this golden ale features notes of gently roasted, fruit-forward coffee. Pale Joe features a special blend of high-end Ethiopian coffee expertly roasted by our hometown neighbors at Ferris Coffee and Nut. It’s the lovechild of your favorite iced coffee and, well, beer. Pale Joe comes in at 5.4% ABV.

Founders Brewing“Pale Joe came out of my current infatuation with pale, sessionable beers,” says Brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki, “Being the ArtPrize beer, I wanted to play with expectations so I experimented with adding coffee to a lighter, pale ale. Turns out, using gently-roasted, fruit-forward coffee adds a nice roasty flavor that does not complete with the malts in the beer.”

This is the fourth beer brewed to benefit ArtPrize. Previous releases include Inspired Artist Black IPAMosaic Promise and Spectra Trifecta.

Founders Family members were given the opportunity to submit their portfolios to find an artistic match for the Pale Joe label, without knowing anything about the beer. Lead Cellar Operator and Kendall College of Art & Design graduate, Aaron Rossell, was chosen for his striking character illustrations and unexpected use of color. Aaron developed the character of Pale Joe, a leathery, dirty-overalled man as a symbol of  blue-collar, hardworking, coffee-sipping Midwestern farmers with the hope that he can help bridge the gap between artists and common-folk.

ArtPrize, an international art competition, promotes critical dialogue and collaboration through new, creative ideas among a large and diverse population of people. As an innovator in redefining what beer can be, Founders believes that experimentation is central to the human experience—whether one experiments with grains and hops or markers and watercolors—and that sharing one’s creation with the public is a brave act worth celebrating.

“We’ve always been thrilled with our strong relationship with Founders, the official brewery of ArtPrize and one of the best craft brewers in the United States,” noted Christian Gaines, ArtPrize Executive Director. “Our partnership, now in its fourth year, is built upon a mutual passion for our community, and a shared commitment to challenging the familiar — exemplified in Founders’ latest special release for ArtPrize Eight, Pale Joe.”

This year marks the eighth edition of ArtPrize, which will take place September 21–Oct. 9, 2016. The Founders taproom will be a venue for the eighth year running.

Pale Joe will hit shelves beginning September 13 in Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, New York City and Boston, MA with limited availability on draft across our remaining distribution network.

brite eyes brewing

In August of 2015, Kalamazoo welcomed its newest brewery, Brite Eyes Brewing Co. Just like the other local breweries, Brite Eyes wanted to add their own twist to the craft beer scene in Kalamazoo. So they decided to serve their delicious Michigan beer with breakfast!

Owners Brian and Shelby Pierce wanted to open a brewery in Kalamazoo that would offer something for everyone to enjoy. They began by brainstorming different types of drinks each of them enjoyed.  Brian was a craft beer enthusiast, while Shelby loved to have a hot cup of coffee or tea. Their interests then led to the idea of opening a coffeehouse brewery.

“A coffeehouse and a brewery crowd are very similar. A lot of them are probably the same people so why not just be a one stop shop. Plus, we can make really fun tea beers and coffee beers because we have the stuff in house,” said Brian Pierce.

brite eyes brewing


Once word was out about this new venture, many people showed their support and gave the owners ideas for the new coffeehouse brewery. For example, the idea of serving coffee on nitro. Brian and Shelby loved the idea and did tons of research on how they could build upon it for Brite Eyes.

To go along with their nitro tap, Brian and Shelby partnered with the Michigan-based coffee company Johnny Java’s. They connected with the family-owned company during their visits to the Kalamazoo’s Farmer’s Markets and thought Johnny Java’s freshly roasted coffee would be perfect to serve at Brite Eyes.

When it came time to decide on food options, breakfast ended up being accidental during a soft opening while waiting for their beer license.

“Breakfast was kind of a mistake. When we soft opened, we were experimenting with morning hours because we’re a coffeehouse also,” said Brian Pierce. “We thought, lets first try being open at 6:30 in the morning and see if people would get out of their cars and come in since we don’t have a drive thru. And if we’re going to be open, we need to have scones or something, so let’s try breakfast.”

Their location on South Burdick St. in downtown Kalamazoo also gave Brite Eyes the idea of catering to the morning crowd because of the businesses surrounding them.

“The hospital is right down the street and the police station is across the street, so we knew we would have a lot of morning traffic,” said Shelby Pierce.

The morning traffic heading into Brite Eyes is not only from people heading into work, but also for those leaving work. When Brite Eyes learned they could start serving their beer at 7am, they immediately adjusted their opening time. This allowed them to offer a cold brew with a hot breakfast to workers who have been working all night.

So, the next time you’re hungry and thirsty after your overnight shift, or wanting to explore a new brewery offering more than just creative beer, consider Brite Eyes.  Their bright and open space with the smell of coffee provides a coffeehouse feel as you enjoy your hot breakfast. While your personalized dark and tan with nitro coffee will remind you that you are at a Michigan brewery.