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Competitive craft beer in Kalamazoo

This is an article published on mLive, a Michigan-specific news site, detailing a trend of carrying locally-produced craft beers among bars and restaurants in Kalamazoo.

About five years ago, the owner of a bar called Up & Under put a few craft beers on tap in response to the growing interest in locally-produced beer.  Now he carries 36 handles, 2/3 of which are locally produced craft beers.  The article notes that, since this time, more than 8 bars and restaurants in the immediate area have responded with their own craft and local varieties on tap.  One bar in particular boasts 44 varieties of beer and says local/craft beers account for roughly half of the 3,000 barrels it goes through each year.

After hearing how tough it was for Devil’s Backbone to get their beer into bars, Kroger, etc. last week, it was interesting to see a market where, ultimately, both craft brewery opportunity and consumer well-being are increased by a take on Hotelling’s Law.  These bars in Michigan feel they need to keep up with the competition, and craft breweries are capitalizing on this opportunity.

The article notes that, in June 2012, Kalamazoo was named one of the nation’s “10 Best Vacation Cities for Beer Lovers.”  Thanks to craft beer competition among bars and restaurants standardizing variety in the market, the city is getting national attention, breweries are getting profits, and consumers are getting more options.



  1. I saw DB six-packs at Food Lion behind McD / Hardees; they were pricing it at $8.49 special with a prominent display. I believe that’s below what they charge at the brewery…
    But indeed, the dynamics of craft beer are more interesting that I thought, and I’d really like to know more of what is behind the shift and whether (see another comment below) it is part of a wider trend.

  2. peaseley peaseley

    It seems to me that like Kalamazoo Lexington is a great place for craft beers. While Lexington might not be a huge vacation city it gets a lot of toursits, from its history, the two colleges, and most importantly the Equestrian center. The Devil’s Backbone brewery is not too far from where all the hotels are located in town, so visitors can easily tour a sample their beers. If Devil’s Backbone continues its success maybe Lexington could one day be a craft beer hub like Kalamazoo.

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