Sept. 30 2015 12:19 AM

Local groups tap into the popularity of craft beer

Beer brings people together.

Plenty of beer and (fill in the blank) events are popping up all over town, enticing potential participants with the promise of tasty brews.

And while there are plenty of places in town to grab a beverage with friends, a few local galleries are hoping to sneak a little art into your evening.

Lansing Art Gallery’s Art & Ale series is a new program spearheaded by Megan Shoup, the gallery’s educational coordinator. The series is part of the gallery’s ongoing efforts to bring art into the community.

“We definitely see a demand for arts experiences outside of the traditional gallery setting,” said Barb Whitney, executive director of the gallery. “That is the motivation for expanding our work outside of the gallery.”

The Tuesday night series kicks off next week and continues through Dec. 1 at Midtown Brewing Co. Participants will be led through a painting activity, and all art supplies — and a beer — are included in the $30 fee. The sessions are designed for learners of all skill levels. At the end of the night, participants will leave with a finished 12-inch-by-12-inch painted canvas.

And over in East Lansing, the Broad Art Museum is adding booze to liven up some of its events.

Its new Hob Nob series was launched this summer, and the first installment quickly sold out. The event invites participants to enjoy food and drinks while perusing the gallery’s exhibits and mingling with other guests.

Whitney Stoepel, director of public relations for the museum, said the event is designed to add a community element to the museum’s offerings.

“The idea came from a response to a shortage of unique places that young professionals and cultural tastemakers of Lansing could connect,” Stoepel said. “The Broad isn’t just a space for exhibition and research, but also an inclusive cultural hub that attracts new and diverse audiences.”

The event is free, but reservations are required. Appetizers, a cash bar and sweet treats are provided.

Down in REO Town, Reach Studio Art Center is taking a BYOB approach with two art classes aimed at the 21-and-up crowd: Mud & Mug and Palette to Palate.

The Mud & Mug series, on the third Friday of the month, invites both novices and experts to make clay creations on the center’s pottery wheels. Pallate to palate, on the second Friday of the month, gives attendees a chance to paint a stretched canvas. A local artist is on hand to guide participants through their art making.

Both events invite participants to bring snacks and drinks to enjoy during the session. October’s installments will feature Halloween-themed activities.

“For Mud & Mug, it’s hilarious because all the beer bottles and wine glasses are just covered in mud,” said Joy Baldwin, program director and volunteer coordinator for REACH. “It’s just kind of beautiful.”

Adding a few drinks to an art class, Baldwin said, loosens people up and creates social opportunities.

“By the end of the night, everyone’s giggly and messy,” she said. “It’s a really fun night to make art with your friends and to make new friends — and to have something fun to show for it other than just a night out drinking beer.”

Even Capital Area District Library is getting in on the act, offering literature with a side of libations. CADL hosts monthly Brew Pub Book Club nights at the Soup Spoon Café.

“I thought patrons might be more likely to attend an event outside the library with food and drinks on site,” said Sara Doherty, CADL public services librarian. Though many book club members do enjoy a beer or two, the focus of the event is the books.

“Folks just like a relaxed evening with fun people who enjoy talking about good books,” Doherty said.

For astronomy geeks, craft beers meet the constellations with Astronomy on Tap, a new series of events a little farther down Michigan Avenue at the Beer Grotto. The event is a local manifestation of a grassroots, international effort to bring more science into the public sphere.

“The primary goal is to provide the general public with an opportunity to learn more about astronomy and astrophysics in a comfortable and informal setting,” said Devin Silvia, Lansing Astronomy on Tap coordinator.

The event taps into an otherwise overlooked population, said Silvia, noting that most scientific outreach efforts are focused on K-12 students.

“We don’t want to forget about those individuals who have already completed their formal education but are still eager to learn,” he said. “Learning about science over a tasty craft beverage also helps to loosen up both our presenters and the audience.”

Rounding out this list of beer-supplemented activities are two unlikely beer pairings: babies and Bibles.

Willow Tree Family Center’s recently launched Brew and Babies event is a bimonthly men’s support group. The event welcomes fathers, fathers-to-be, uncles and grandfathers to discuss their experiences over a brew or two. The event location alternates between the center’s office and the Beer Grotto.

Christ Community Church’s weekly Bible and Beer event, hosted by the Rev. Mike Dunkelberger, brings the Bible into the bar. Hosted by Midtown Brewing Co., the event’s goal is to create a “casual, comfortable time where we try to discover scripture’s power to confront the daily news and our lives with hope.”

While some may balk at the idea of having a beer over Bible study, Dunkelberger is hoping to serve folks who may never set foot in a church.

“Jesus did the majority of his mighty works in the market place or in the home,” he said. “The ‘religious places’ didn't work well for him.”

Beer Events

Art & Ale

6-8 p.m. Tuesdays, Oct. 6-Dec. 1 $30 per session/$25 per session for Lansing Art Gallery or Midtown Brewing Co. mug club members Midtown Brewing Co. 402 S. Washington Square, Lansing (517) 374-6400,

The Hob Nob

6-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9 FREE (reservation required) Education Wing, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum 547 East Circle Drive, East Lansing (517) 884-4800,

Mud & Mug

7-10 p.m., third Friday of each month See website for fees and registration REACH Studio Art Center 1804 S. Washington Ave., Lansing (517) 999-3643, reachstudioartcenter. org

Palette to Palate

7-9:30 p.m., second Friday of each month See website for fees and registration REACH Studio Art Center 1804 S. Washington Ave., Lansing (517) 999-3643, reachstudioartcenter. org

Brew Pub Book Club

7-9 p.m., first Tuesday of each month FREE Soup Spoon Café 1419 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 367-6363,

Astronomy on Tap

See website for future events FREE The Beer Grotto 500 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing

Brew and Babies

6 p.m., second Sunday of each month Willow Tree Family Center 3333 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Suite 101, Lansing 7 p.m., fourth Tuesday of each month The Beer Grotto 500 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (586) 806-9832,

Bible and Beer

6 p.m. Tuesdays FREE Midtown Brewing Co. 402 S. Washington Square, Lansing

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