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spelling beer

B.O.B.’s Brewery, the oldest microbrewery in Grand Rapids, and DrinkGR, a local online community of like-minded individuals who promote Grand Rapids’ microbrewery and cocktail cultures, will host the second annual Spelling Bee(r) on Thursday, July 21 from 6-10 p.m. at The B.O.B.

Participants and spectators alike will enjoy an evening of craft beer from Gilmore Collection’s Brewmaster John Svboda, a multi-round spelling bee with words no harder than a 5th-grade reading level, and good-natured fun from the night’s hosts from local improvisation group, Funny Girls. The cost to enter the spelling bee is $5 per person and registration will take place on the day of the event at B.O.B.’s Brewery. Ticket proceeds will benefit the Grand Rapids Public Library’s Summer Reading Program—a program that encourages and provides ways for local youth to keep up with their reading skills during the summer academic break.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the great people at B.O.B.’s Brewery and DrinkGR again this year,” said Shirley Gagnon Allen, manager of Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation. “This is such a fun, easy way to help us help the kids of our city with keeping their reading skills sharp while they’re away from school for summer vacation—and we greatly appreciate their support.”

The first place winner of the spelling bee will get a $200 Gilmore Collection gift card; 2nd place will get a $100 gift card, and 3rd place will receive a $100 gift card.

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KENT COUNTY – Calling all book-loving home brewers: Kent District Library (KDL) has a contest that seeks to combine the passions of reading and brewing.

As part of the KDaLe beer series, KDL and Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery and Supply are teaming up to host the “Book-Inspired Brewing” home brewing contest.

The contest asks brewers to craft a beverage inspired by their favorite book or author. In a press release, KDL offered some examples:

Gone Girl Coffee Stout – Dark and caffeinated, this stout, like the book, will keep you up all night. Just like Amy, this beer is smooth, controlled and will leave you wishing for a little bit more.

Catcher in the Rye Beer – It takes a special beer to match the dryness of Holden Caulfield. Bitter and crisp on the tongue, this brew mimes the acerbic style of the teenage protagonist. Not for phonies!

Alice’s Adventures in Weizenbier – Golden as the shiny-haired troublemaker, this beer has a malty sweetness and an unsuspecting hint of banana. Curiousier and curiousier, this beer throws flavors at you faster than the White Rabbit runs. Don’t be late trying this brew!

Poe Stout – A dark and bitter brew guaranteed to put you on edge.

Kinsella Cider – Light and bubbly, crisp and sweet, this cider is best shared with friends and over good stories.

The entries will be judged for flavor, aroma, mouthfeel and appearance as well as how well the beverage fits the theme submitted. There will be two rounds of judging, first by Gravel Bottom staff, KDL staff, local homebrewers and industry professionals, and then by professional brewers and local cicerones.

The winner will get to brew his or her beer on Gravel Bottom’s professional system and later release it at the KDaLe Wrap-Up Party. The winner’s name will be engraved on the KDaLe homebrew trophy, and the top three finalists will receive a home brewer’s prize basket.

Register for the competition before Dec. 4. Twelve-ounce beer samples must be submitted at Gravel Bottom on or before Jan. 15. The winner will be announced Jan. 19 and the Wrap-Up Party will be hosted Feb. 24.

For more information and rules, visit the KDaLe website.

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.”