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Wednesday, June 19,2013

Tap dancing

Weeklong event celebrates Michigan beer

by Sean Bradley
Photo by Paul Starr
After a successful debut last year, Lansing Beer Week is back for another round of food pairings, pub crawls and historical tours. It starts Friday with the Festival of the Sun in Old Town, and wraps up June 29 with a new music and beer extravaganza: The Lansing Beer Fest.  

The event was created by Paul Starr, founder of the Lansing-based blog Iīm a Beer Hound, and Steve Johnson, founder of Motor City Brew Tours. 

“The craft beer movement is as much about the conversation as it is about the beer,” Starr said. “Having good food, good beer and good conversation — to me, thatīs, like, the lifestyle.”

Starr continues to expand the visibility of this lifestyle, trying to engage as many people as possible about the different styles of beer and breweries in Lansing and in Michigan. The goal of Lansing Beer Week is to to increase the awareness of Lansing-area craft beers. Starr said he hopes to do this through standalone events, such as the Women of Craft Beer event and a bike tour focusing on the local auto industry. 

“(I want to) get Lansing educated about craft beer,” he said. “Also, to get people in the door of local bars and homebrew stores that they might not have known about before.”

Amy Sherman hosts the Grand Rapids-based, nationally broadcast series “The Great American Brew Trail,” which airs on WILX 10 at 11 a.m. Sundays. Sherman will speak at the Women of Craft Beer event at Midtown Beer Co. Monday. Sherman will be joined by Sonia Buonodono, co-owner of EagleMonk Pub and Brewery in Lansing; Amanda Geiger, assistant brewer at Pike 51 Brewing Co. in Hudsonville; and Kate Avery, a representative of Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids.  

Starr said this event will also unveil the Beer Houndettes, a meet-up group for women to talk about craft beer in Lansing. Sherman will talk about her television show and her experiences in the brewing industry. She said she wants to get more women involved in trying craft beer and learning about the scene.

“This is the perfect experience for them to come out and try beer and ask questions,” Sherman said. “I want women to try beer and feel comfortable with the one they like. I always tell them they have to find the craft beer thatīs for them.”

Renoīs East Sports Bar in East Lansing, which has 68 beers on tap, will host a beer-and-bacon pairing on Tuesday. The event, starting at 7 p.m., will have five samples of beer from the New Holland Brewing Co.īs Hatter line and local meat vendor Jerome Country Market providing five different bacon samples. 

“Itīs not only really fun for the public but really educational for our staff,” said Renoīs East manager Christina Grass. “We like to keep the staff updated about beer. Or beers they wouldnīt have tried on their own.”

On June 28, the tap takeover event will feature specialty beers Strawberry Rhubarb Belgian Triple at EagleMonk and a Czech Pilsner at BAD Brewery in Mason. 

“A lot of times theyīll have a few rare beers that are hard to get normally,” he said. “They feature one brewery, and sometimes it can be from three to 25 beers.”

The capstone event for the week is the Lansing Beer Fest on June 29 in REO Town. Starr said the festival (sponsored in part by City Pulse) will include beer from 12 breweries. He said different breweries will have tables and tents along Washington Avenue to display their brews, including Atwater Brewery in Detroit and Dark Horse Brewing Co. in Marshall. 

“If people have questions about the beer, itīs coming straight from the horseīs mouth,” Starr said. 

Last yearīs festival had a smaller marketing budget, but Starr said this year more groups are taking interest in the event.

“More breweries and beer bars and retailers have wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “I think there will be a great turnout.” 

Last yearīs festival had a smaller marketing budget, but Starr said this year more groups are taking interest in the event.

“More breweries and beer bars and retailers have wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “I think there will be a great turnout. This year will be a really good gauge of the power of the week and filling up the bars.”

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