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Interlude: More Kalamazoo breweries, and some Kalamazoo properties

This is probably my last off day for a while. Assuming my body holds up and I have a favorable wind, my plan is to get to Rochester by Saturday night.

So for those of you who aren’t aware, part of the reason I come to Kalamazoo⁠— besides the craft beer scene, of course is that I bought a couple of investment properties here 6 years ago and need to check on them at least annually. Honestly, it’s a pretty good deal. The properties are paying for themselves, and I can take a tax-deductible beer vacation in Kalamazoo once a year. (No, I don’t deduct the beer from my taxes. Sheesh.)

And without further ado, here are the properties. I bought them for a song, and they’ve given me a few headaches over the years, but overall it’s been a good experience.

Now, on to the beers. For lunch I went to Arcadia Ales. Arcadia used to be in Battle Creek (home of a certain cereal company) but they moved to Kalamazoo a few years ago. I had forgotten how good their beer is! Really, Kalamazoo is the Lake Wobegon of beer cities, where all the beers are above average.

Just to feature a couple that particularly stood out, the Brett saison was great. Brettanomyces is a really hit-or-miss yeast to work with. It’ll give the beer a funky flavor, but you never know whether it’ll be a good funky flavor or a bad funky flavor. I once had two Brett beers at the same brewery in the same sitting and loved one and hated the other, so that shows how unpredictable it is. But fortunately for Arcadia theirs works very well. Also noteworthy was the Cereal Killer barleywine, a tribute to their Battle Creek roots. But just to reiterate, get whatever looks interesting to you here and I’m sure it will be good.

The management company that takes care of my properties is located down by Kalamazoo Airport, which means that once I finished meeting with them I was walking distance from two more breweries, BraVo and One Well.

BraVo is actually a long-standing Italian restaurant that decided to start brewing their own beers back in 2007. I had never tried the beers before because I was dubious that an Italian restaurant could make good beers. But this is Kalamazoo (or in this case Portage), so all the beers are good because if they weren’t good the brewery wouldn’t last long! Of course I enjoyed the Citra and El Dorado-hopped IPA. The funny thing is, I didn’t think to note down the other two beers I had and enjoyed because I figured I could just check their website to jog my memory. Looks like the beer list on their website is waaay out of date though. Note to BraVo: Update your website!

As with Tibbs, One Well is another brewery I’ll always have a soft spot for because I’ve been going there since not long after they opened and it’s been great to watch them grow. One Well specializes in quirky beers, to say the least. Their mainstays include the Xalapa jalapeño blonde ale and the Sweet Water Street coffee donut porter. I always include the Bloody Xalapa on my flights here. That’s the Xalapa mixed with Bloody Mary mix. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! The other beers that particularly stood out today include the Unclear Future pineapple coconut milkshake IPA and the Root Beer Float milk stout, which really does taste like root beer. My advice if you come here is don’t be afraid to get creative, and enjoy the massive number of board games and pinball machines they have!

For a nightcap I went to the legendary Bell’s Eccentric Café. The café is at the original location for Bell’s Brewing. They outgrew the space’s brewing capacity more than 15 years ago and moved their major brewing operations to a huge facility in the suburbs (which does a great tour that I highly recommend). So now they use this space for making small batches and having a restaurant, bottle shop, and a killer beer garden.

As you can see from the menu, they offer a lot more beers here than you’re likely to find in a store or at your local bar. Accordingly, I didn’t come here for the Two Hearted, which I could just as easily get back home. Instead I tried some beers I’d never heard of, including the chocolate vanilla cherry stout (how can you go wrong with that?) and the Quinannan Falls. The latter is a dry-hopped lager, which is very light and crisp with noticeable but not overpowering hops.

And now it’s bedtime. Sunrise in Kalamazoo isn’t until 6:30, so I don’t have to get up at 5 or anything to get an early start, but I do want to hit the road by 7. It’ll be a challenging ride just because I’ll be hitting so many towns with breweries, and most of those breweries open at 11, so I’ll have to make some decisions as to which ones to visit and which ones to skip while still biking a century.

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