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women in beer

Hear the stories of several women as they lead three distinctive businesses in West Michigan

 

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — In celebration of women in Michigan beer, West Michigan Beer Tours is holding its Women of West Michigan Beer Tour.

The bus tour will be held from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, and feature women in leadership roles at a trio relatively new breweries. The tour will be led by our longtime Michigan beer advocates, Andrea Wilson and Bonnie Steinman, a groundbreaking hop farmer in the state.

Bonnie Steinman

 

The tour begins with registration at Paw Paw Brewing Co.’s new location on Gremps St. and heads west to Cognito Brewing Co., located in the historic grain elevator in Bangor. Brewer Jennifer Goodrich, a graduate of Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Sustainable Brewing Program, will lead a tour of the building and share samples with the group. The trip then heads to Saugatuck to see Kim Collins, co-owner and brewer at Guardian Brewing Co., which opened in early 2019. Our tour then finishes the afternoon with a stop at Three Blondes Brewing Co. Fronted by sisters Amanda Johnson, Carrie Troyer and Megan Zernicke, this South Haven brewery opened in the summer of 2018.

Three Blondes Brewing

 

The tour includes a pint or samples at each location, as well as production tours and meet-and-greets with the women behind these emerging breweries. Tickets are $69 per person and include a seat on the bus, complimentary bottled water and snacks on the bus, as well as three samples or a pint at each of the three breweries.

Itinerary Origination: Paw Paw Brewing Co., noon registration with 1 p.m. departure

Stop 1: Cognito Brewing Co., samples, tour with brewer Jennifer Goodrich, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

Stop 2: Guardian Brewing Co., samples, tour with owner/brewer Kim Collins, 3-4 p.m.

Stop 3: Three Blondes Brewing Co., samples, meet-and-greet with owners, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Termination: Paw Paw Brewing Co., 6 p.m.

 

 

hop harvest beer tour

MARSHALL, MI –​ Michigan ranks fourth in the United States in terms of total acreage
dedicated to hops, one of four main ingredients in craft beer.

Many of those acres will be in full harvest mode at the end of August and early
September.  In collaboration the Moga family, owners of High Five Hop Farm in Marshall,
along with Dark Horse Brewing Co. and Territorial Brewing Co., West Michigan Beer Tours will
hold the Hop Harvest Beer Tour on Saturday, Aug. 26.

The highlight of the afternoon will be a visit to the small family farm where Marty Moga
and his family grow a variety of hops for a few Michigan breweries.  Participants will tour
the fields and learn more about the growing and harvesting process, while also samples
Michigan beer using High Five Hop Farm hops.

The tour will begin with registration from noon to 1 p.m. at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill
inside the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo.  The bus will depart for Dark
Horse Brewing Co. for a pint and to hear how the brewery works with High Five Hops
Farm on some of its beer.

Following the stint at High Five Hop, the event will stop by Territorial Brewing Co. for a
series of samples and learn how hops are utilized in the brewery’s German-inspired
beers, before returning to downtown Kalamazoo.

Discounted hotel rooms at the Radisson Plaza Hotel are also available through this
custom link: http://www.radisson.com/westmichiganbeertours.

For more information, go to www.westmichiganbeertours.com.

For hop heads, the months of September and October become a palate-testing quasi-holiday.

Many breweries are releasing their hop-heavy beers this time of year as the hop harvest has come to fruition. Of the four main ingredients in craft beer, none boast the rabid following of hops, or humulus lupulus. West Michigan Beer Tours, in collaboration with JW Marriott Grand Rapids and Hop Yard of Kent County, will showcase some of the adventurous flavors of the season with the Hop Harvest Beer Tour on Saturday, Aug. 5.

The tour takes place near the peak of hop harvest season when farms are in full picking and processing mode. It will begin with registration from noon to 1 p.m. at the JW Marriott, where guests are encouraged to order a drink and lunch at the Six.One.Six. The bus will depart at 1 p.m. with visits to Rockford Brewing Co., the Hopyards of Kent County — the family-owned hop farm in Greenville — and Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in Ada.

Guests will receive a pint or samples, as well as a meet-and-greet or production tour, at the two brewery stops as part of the tour. We’ll learn more about Michigan’s burgeoning hop industry and how breweries utilize hops to achieve a variety of flavors and aromas.

The visit to the Greenville hop farm will be led by owner Pam Miller. The visit includes a sensory test, tour of harvesting facility and a tasting of local beer using the farm’s hops.

The JW Marriott’s Beer City USA Package will also be available for guests opting for overnight accommodations.

For more information, go to www.westmichiganbeertours.com.

 

KALAMAZOO, MI — As Kalamazoo’s reputation for world-class beer continues to grow, so too will the number of opportunities to visit those breweries as part of a walking tour with West Michigan Beer Tours.

As a vehicle to spotlight the growth of Kalamazoo’s brewing industry, the Walking Tours — sponsored by Discover Kalamazoo — provide a glimpse into what makes the city unique through the lens of craft beer. Guests will learn about the history of Michigan beer and Kalamazoo’s influential role in the industry’s resurgence. For the first time since launching the events in 2013, the walking tours are available year-round — sunshine, rain or snow.

walking tours

Public walking tours are held every Saturday through October and three Saturdays in November and December. Private walking tours are available on request.

Registration for each tour begins at noon at one of four downtown Kalamazoo bar and restaurants: Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill, HopCat Kalamazoo or Shakespeare’s Pub. The breweries visited on each date will vary. Please check the individual tour for the registration locations and breweries.

The tour departs at 1 p.m. and visits three breweries with the tour concluding at around 4 p.m.

Tickets start at $29 per person. The ticket price includes samples or a pint at the three brewery stops and a goody bag that includes a commemorative stainless steel pint. There will be other prizes and giveaways during tours as well.

Guests will also have the opportunity for occasional production tours and the chance to meet those who make some of the city’s fine craft beer.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go online.

KALAMAZOO, MI — If you are looking to get a little more mileage out of that dusty, thrift store holiday sweater you bought four years ago, you’re in luck.

West-Michigan-Beer-Tours-LogoWest Michigan Beer Tours will offer a pair of festive walking tours of downtown Kalamazoo breweries on Dec. 10 and Dec. 17, where guests are invited to wear their ugly holiday sweater or favorite holiday costume and earn prizes, as selected by brewery staff.

Both tours will be hold registration from noon to 1 p.m. Central City Tap House and Shakespeare’s Pub, respectively. The Dec. 10 tour will visit Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing Co., Rupert’s Brew House and Tibbs Brewing Co., which is also the third anniversary party for Tibbs.

The Dec. 17 tour will hold registration from noon to 1 p.m. at Shakespeare’s Pub and visit Arcadia Brewing Co., Boatyard Brewing Co. and Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. Bell’s will award the winning outfit with a private brewery tour for up to six people at a date of their choosing.

Advance ticket purchases are strongly encouraged.

Tickets are $39 and include either a pint or samples at each brewery stop.

Also in the spirit of the holidays, West Michigan Beer Tours has also introduced its Kalamazoo Craft Beer Gift Baskets. The two basket options contain at least one item from each brewery in either downtown Kalamazoo (eight breweries) or Kalamazoo County (12 breweries).

holiday walking tour

The baskets contain glassware, stickers, keychain openers, beer soap, beer koozies and more. They are available online.

For those looking to skip shipping and handling charges, in-store pickup will also be available at the Spirit of Kalamazoo’s new location at 154 S. Kalamazoo Mall.

For more information on the baskets, please contact 269-350-4598 or john@westmibeertours.com.

 

West-Michigan-Beer-Tours-Logo

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.

WMCFO

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.

KALAMAZOO — A West Michigan Beer Tour is a long day, but a long day worth the cost and a hell of a lot of fun.

MittenBrew recently tagged along with Lisa Faber and Beth Liberty, partners (along with their husbands) of West Michigan Beer Tours, Inc. for ‘Women of West Michigan Beer.’  About 25 craft beer enthusiasts signed up for this Noon to 5 p.m. event, geared towards showcasing and meeting women who are leading the way in the Michigan craft beer community.

West Michigan Beer Tours is a relatively new company, with its inaugural tour in June of last year. So far, they’ve had a lot of success with their unique public and private tours for craft beer lovers. Offering plenty of tours through the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and close-by areas, the group is looking to expand to the I-94 corridor soon.

Lisa and Beth don’t often host a tour, but they told their husbands that it was only fitting they get to lead this one.

ARRIVAL

Registration and check in starts at Tibbs Brewing Company in Kalamazoo, a small locally-owned nano brewery. Cindee Tibbs, six months pregnant and wearing a company shirt christened with FV1 (fermentation vessel #1) on her stomach, greets us at the door.

An initial Q&A starts the day while everyone samples some pints, like the Citra Your Ass Down IPA or Hell-Jen Belgian Tripel. “We opened on December 6, 2013 and the community has been amazing, very supportive, everyone has been wonderful. I can’t say enough about how great and supportive Kalamazoo has been, everyone reaching out to make us feel welcome. It’s really nice,” said Tibbs.

Cindees’ interest in brewing was sparking because of her husband, but they both soon realized it was her who had the better palate. Taste testing product and offering suggestions for tweaking recipes, Cindee is an active part in the brewery, not just the paperwork girl (though she takes care of that as well). Since her pregnancy, the tastings have of course stopped, but she’s still working right alongside her husband.

Tibbs is already very active in the community and involved with other local businesses, like their recent collaboration with The Cupcake ZOO on treats made with G’Mornin Coffee Stout and the For Richer or Porter coffee cake.

“Tibbs is all about our customer. We want to connect with our customers; we want to be that ‘Cheers’ location and make sure they are getting high quality beer, at a great price and in a good atmosphere.”

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After registration, it’s on to the bus to our first stop, Hop Head Farms. On the way to our first destination, Shannon Kuchera, the Communications Director from the Michigan Brewers Guild, shares some information with attendees about the Guild and what they do for the industry and for the craft beer fans alike.

HOP HEAD FARMS

After a little drive, we arrive at Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners, a 30-acre farm that supplies some of your favorites with what makes beer, beer.

Bonnie Steinman is part of the husband and wife team that runs Hop Head. Today, she is leading our tour from entrance to field to harvesting room, with beer samples featuring their product along the way. Pouring is the ‘Beer Broads,’ a local group of women who get together over a pint on a semi-regular basis.

Seven samples in all are offered throughout the stop, featuring almost all of the nine varietals that are grown by Hop Head. Manda Geiger from Pike 51 is on hand, sharing her KUSH IPA Dry Hopped with HHF Saaz and one hopped with HHF Glacier.

A tasting list with descriptions is graciously provided, and we spend time talking about the nuances between varietals as we go through the facility, starting off in the main area, tasting the Citra Melon from Paw Paw and the Multigrain Mutt from Ruperts Brew House in Kalamazoo. “So basically, the citra and melon hops play off each other in this one, but the melon mellows it out,” says Bonnie about the Citra Melon Session Ale.

We make our way towards the hop fields, acres of poles waiting to be covered in vines. “We grow 30,000 hop plants and 9 different varieties of hops,” she says. “We supply over 50 breweries throughout the United States — not just Michigan.”

Bonnie shares as she shows us the small, asparagus hop shoots that are coming up at the base of each pole. Within the next week, Hop Head will use a machine to score the tops. After the crowns are pruned, two ropes will be tied to each crown and three vines (or hardy shoots) will be trained up each rope.

“We can do about 4,000 ropes a day — that’s kind of slow, actually, in comparison to other places out west. We are still perfecting our system,” says Bonnie.

Our next stop is the harvesting room, where we meet Griselda, Hop Head’s massive harvester, complete with gears and wheels and conveyers that are all a little Willy Wonka. It gets even better as we make our way into a room underneath the oast tower, looking up from the blowers into three floors that are actually drawers, designed to dry the hops as needed depending on variety.

We end with a few more beer samples and Bonnie’s special Hop Cheese, a secret mix that includes beer and hops, of course.

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Between stops, Lisa and Beth keep the ladies well hydrated and make sure no one lacks for snacks. It’s a great atmosphere, and as the day processes, more and more strangers become friends and share their experiences with Michigan brew, homebrewing horror stories and successes, and simply chat about everyday things one talks about over a pint.

BOATYARD BREWING

It’s on to the brand new Boatyard Brewing in Kalamazoo, where we meet Amy Waugaman, a pink-booted brewer who has a rather unique road to working in the industry.

“I drank my first beer when I was 35. I was into big red wines, and I went through a divorce and decided to try things I was opposed to before for no reason, and beer was one of them,” she says.

Waugaman pours us samples of Kissing the Gunners Daughter — a traditional Klosch which she says is great for mowing your lawn of sitting on your boat. Lightly hopped, it’s an easy drinker, perfect for summer.

“I started to drink beers in this area, and went up to Founders and had a Red’s Rye and fell in love, then decided I wanted to try to homebrew. I have a degree in microbiology and chemistry and then went to culinary school, so it made sense. My homebrew was pretty good and I wanted to do more.”

Our next sample is a Blonde Ale, a malt forward Bière de Garde brewed very true to style called Currents Will Shift. “So I discovered this place, sent an email that basically said I want to learn commercial brewing. Teach me, and I will give you my time. Bryan and Dan, owners of Boatyard, started teaching me and it went from there. It’s my passion and I love it and I don’t feel like I’m ever working.”

The last beer is Swearing Sailor Sasion, so good I go home with a growler full. It’s back onto the bus where Waugaman joins us as we make our way to Arcadia.

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On the way to our final stop, Beth Raich from Brew Hauler demos her product and provides goodie bags for everyone. An ingeniously simple little contraption made from sturdy webbing that fits snugly around your growler to make carrying easier, this product came about as a way to use leftover materials from the Brew Hauler’s main seller, the larger version made for carboys. It was a nice gesture and very usable during the trip.

ARCADIA BREWING

Our last stop of the day was a treat — Arcadia’s brand new Kalamazoo facility, which is having its grand opening on May 8. It was the brewery’s soft opening, and we enjoyed a full free pint courtesy of the tour and had the option to eat ample, decadent BBQ that assaulted our nostils when we walked in.

Mardy Suprise, co-owner along with her husband Tim, stepped outside with the group to talk about Arcadia, from opening the Battle Creek location 18 years ago to the launch of the Kalamazoo branch.

Mardy has been a part of Michigan’s craft beer scene since inception, and shared stories of falling pizza ovens, exploding water drains and how Arcadia has reached the point where it is today. Wife, mother and entrepreneur, Mardy is very much a part of daily operations at Arcadia. Like the other women on our tour that day, she has made her way in what is still considered a man’s world, shattering stereotypes and breaking barriers. “I did not sleep at all, for the first 10 years,” she jokes.

The clock strikes five, and the weary attendees make their way back to the bus to end where we started, at Tibbs Brewing. The hardier of the bunch stay at Arcadia and opt to walk back, but the ladies at MittenBrew had had their fill and headed home, laden with beer and swag, great photos and good stories.