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two hearted

 

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery and two of its beers – Two Hearted Ale and Hopslam Ale – were recognized again in this year’s Best Beers in America survey from Zymurgy magazine.

Two Hearted was No. 1 in the Top-Ranked Beers category and Bell’s in whole was named top brewery.

This is the third consecutive year that Two Hearted has claimed this honor. It came in second to Russian River’s Pliny the Elder for seven straight years previously.

Hopslam Ale also placed in the top-ranked beers list tied at No. 7.

Now running in its 17th year, the survey asks members of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), which publishes Zymurgy, to choose up to five of their favorite commercial beers available for purchase in the U.S.

“Receiving this honor once, twice even was incredible. But a third time? I am speechless and incredibly thankful to the homebrewing community and everyone who has helped make this beer what it is today,” said Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s Brewery.

The full Best Beers in America list—which includes complete rankings on all the top beers, breweries and more is available at HomebrewersAssociation.org.

“Being selected as a winner for this esteemed list is no small feat. All of this year’s winners showcase exceptional flavors, expertly crafted by some of the greatest talent in the brewing industry,” said Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association. “I’d like to extend congratulations to all of this year’s winners and toast to their exemplary beers favorited by homebrewers and beer lovers alike.”

The AHA announced the results of this year’s survey in a press release.

“It is an honor to once again be awarded the top-ranking spots among so many great breweries and beers,” said John Mallett, Director of Operations at Bell’s Brewery. “Only the best Centennial hops, a commitment to quality by the entire Bell’s team, and the splendor of our home state are all part of the beauty of Two Hearted Ale. There is one other vital component, the beer lover. We are truly humbled to be recognized by the finest palates in homebrewing.”

The American Homebrewers Association has worked on behalf of the homebrewing community since 1978 and celebrates a membership of more than 46,000 homebrewers.

The Bell’s General Store has been supporting homebrewers in Kalamazoo and beyond since the 1980s and even, predates the brewery. Larry Bell founded the company originally as a homebrew supply store in 1983.

For homebrewers interested in replicating some of the winningest beers at home, the AHA provides clone recipes in Zymurgy and online, in the recipes section of the AHA website. Clone recipes for Bell’s beers, including Two Hearted, can be found at bellsbeer.com. Kits can also be purchased on the Bell’s online store.

 

 

tour program

COMSTOCK, Mich. – One of the best brewery tours in the U.S. just got even better.

Bell’s Brewery debuted a handful of improvements that have been in the works for months as part of enhancing its tour program.

Bell’s tour guests can now explore the history of one of the oldest craft brewers east of the Mississippi River with a comprehensive 50-foot timeline. They can also be able to purchase exclusive merchandise and see pieces of Bell’s history like the soup pot that started it all.

Bell’s tour program was voted as one of the best in the country by the readers of USAToday as part of its 10Best series in April. Bell’s finished second and was the only Midwest brewery to make that list.

“These installations will enhance our ability to tell our story with visual elements and pieces of our history – a more complete experience,” said Shelly Claflin, Bell’s Tour Manager. “We’ve literally added a huge splash of color to our tour space with this new timeline exhibit and are very excited to take the visitor experience to the next level. Providing stellar hospitality while sharing the story of Bell’s will continue to be cornerstones of our tour program.”

All tours are free and open to all ages. For those of legal drinking age, samples are included as you browse and learn about Bell’s history.

Other improvements include additional seating, the upcoming addition of a selfie station and plaques detailing the history of fermenters that were once used at the Stroh Brewery Co. in Detroit.

Bell’s tours blend an extensive knowledge of the brewery and craft beer with incredible storytelling as it welcomes tens of thousands of guests every year. The Eccentric Café, Bell’s original brewery in downtown Kalamazoo and its main brewery seven miles east in Comstock, are destinations for craft beer fans from around the world.

Behind-the-scenes brewery tours have also returned for the summer. Guests can tour areas not typically seen on regular tours on Thursday evenings. Reservations for all tours can be made here.

ABOUT THE BELL’S TOUR PROGRAM 

Free tours (all ages welcome) are held Wednesday through Sunday at Bell’s main brewery in Comstock and on weekends at its original downtown Kalamazoo brewery.

Each Comstock tour includes free samples for those 21 and up. Specialty tours are also offered throughout the year. Examples include a Hopslam and Two Hearted focused tour as well as special Reach for the Sun tours on Oberon Release Day. These specialty tours are limited and sell-out fast.

Each Bell’s brewery tour covers the history of Bell’s and brewing throughout the years in addition to sustainability, packaging, ingredients, quality and more.

Free tours can be reserved at bellsbeer.com.

thornapple brewing

Microbrewery, winery, distillery and restaurant to unveil expansion on June 15

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — Thornapple Brewing Company has announced the grand re-opening of its newly expanded space on 28th Street in Grand Rapids. The microbrewery, winery, distillery and restaurant has added 4,000 square feet to its footprint, allowing room for more guests and more beverages on tap.

The unveiling comes on the brewery’s second anniversary. There will be a party to celebrate the occasion on June 15.

The expansion has doubled the floor space in the brewery’s front of house and comes with 90 additional seats in the taproom.

“We reached a point where expanding was necessary,” said Jeff Coffey, co-owner of Thornapple Brewing Company. “With added space and seating, customers won’t have to wait in line anymore.”

Included in the expansion are a game area with darts and corn hole and a quieter section for those who just want to come in for a beer and conversation while others are enjoying live music on the weekends. The space can also be used for private events hosting up to 100 people.

Thornapple has also added a 14-tap bar, bringing the brewery’s total number of taps to 40. The expansion also comes with a new 400 square foot cooler, which will increase the brewery’s production capacity.

“We’ll be able to have a lot more varieties on tap and get more beer out into distribution,” said Eric Fouch, co-owner.

The anniversary party and grand re-opening will feature live music, indoor and outdoor games and slushie machines with housemade wine and mead slushies.

“Headbrewer Sebastian Henao will have new beers on tap to help fill in those 14 new taps,” Fouch said.

Thornapple will release its first bourbon for the occasion as well.

“The Thornapple Artisan Spirits Bourbon is a very smooth, corn forward, slightly sweet bourbon aged in oak barrels for at least one year,” Fouch said.

Coffey, a native of Green Bay and life-long Packer fan, has decorated the new space with some of his personal Packer memorabilia, including a football signed by Bart Starr. The lounge will feature “up north” themed decor as well.

“Both Eric and I enjoy the great outdoors and like to bring a bit of that to the brewery,” Coffey said.

Guests can watch Packers and Lions games in the new space all season long. All games will be shown on projection TVs.

“The Lions’ home at Thornapple Brewing Company will be in the main seating area and Packers’ home turf will be in the lounge area,” Coffey said.

Thornapple Brewing Company is the area’s only full-service microbrewery, winery, distillery and restaurant.

“We like to do a lot of things, and when we do them, we do them well,” Coffey said. “Most breweries don’t have a distillery, and we’ve got a good one. Our gin is tasty, our vodka is clean. I’ve never heard a bad word about our whiskey, and our bourbon will be the same.”

Three Thornapple beers, two ciders and one perry won awards at national and international competitions this year.

Coffey said Thornapple’s staff is to thank for the brewery’s success in its first two years.

“Our management, servers and kitchen staff work hard together to make sure our customers are happy,” Coffey said.  “On busy nights it’s like an orchestra.”

OXFORD, Mich. — A family-run brewery in small-town Oxford, Michigan, has won gold medals in two international beer competitions. HomeGrown Brewing Company received a gold medal in the World Expo of Beer and a gold medal, bronze medal and the title of Michigan IPA Brewery of the Year at the New York International Beer Competition 2019.

The micro-brewery in Oxford received the top award this week for their Oxford Ale at the World Expo of Beer competition, and last month were awarded gold at the New York-based competition for their Zephyros, a hazy India Pale Ale (IPA) beer, as well as bronze for their Ruck-a-chuk American IPA.

 

Owner and master brewer John Powers says he is extremely proud to have his beer recognized on such a scale. “It’s a tremendous honor,” says Powers. “Our Oxford Ale is one of our flagship brews and our Hazy IPA is one of our most popular seasonalswe might have to make it a permanent feature on our beer menu now.”

Oxford DDA executive director Glenn Pape says the recognition shows the brewery’s dedication to their craft and that the village is proud to be the home of an award-winning brewery.

“Those of us who enjoy the outstanding beer from HomeGrown Brewing Company are very happy to see them getting the recognition they deserve for their outstanding products,” Pape says. “It is businesses like HomeGrown that help to put Oxford on the map.”

The World Expo of Beer, Michigan’s only international competitive beer event, awarded other Michigan stalwarts like Bell’s Brewery, Ellison Brewery and Griffin Claw. With 600 entries, from 14 countries, the NYIBC competition also acknowledged well-known Michigan icon Founders Brewing Co. for several awards and as Michigan Brewery of the Year. For a small, new micro-brewery to claim medals and titles alongside such renowned names is a big deal, says Powers.

“We love that the playing field is level enough for us to compete with established names in the industry,” he says.

HomeGrown’s unique Zephyros brew has a floral aroma, grapefruit notes and uses heavy, late-addition hops (including Galaxy hops from Australia) and is described by the brewery as “Cloudy, with a chance of blowing your mind”. The downside, for the brewers, is that the Zephyros is their most labor-intensive brew, adding up to a 12-hour brew day for each batch.

“It’s a good problem to have,” says Powers.

 

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.

 

 

fermenta

Grand Rapids, Mich. — March is Women’s History Month. International Women’s Day lands on March 8th annually, and since 2013, this day has also marked International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day, or IWCBD. IWCBD was founded by a female group of brewers in the U.K. who came together to collaborate and brew in their local communities. Led by Sophie de Ronde, these ladies decided to take a local idea and make it global to celebrate women and craft across the world.

To spread word of the event across the pond, de Ronde reached out to the Pink Boots Society, a U.S. organization with chapters in many of the 50 states. Denise Ratfield, head of Pink Boots Society’s social media at the time, helped launch IWCBD here in the U.S.

Since then, IWCBD has grown every year, and every year a new brewing theme is announced to challenge brew teams to get creative with ingredients and processes. In past years, recipes have been made to follow such themes as “Unite Exotic” and “Unite Local.” This year’s theme is “Unite Forage,” encouraging the use of wild yeast or local fruit, spices or herbs.

According to the official IWCBD map, over 80 breweries across the world have registered their collaboration brew days. They are joined by social groups, non-profits, local businesses and other craft companies who support the brews and the women making them.

Here in Michigan, there are 18 registered brew days on the official IWCBD calendar, and that’s not including breweries who did not register! These breweries are joined by local non-profits, craft ingredient companies, women’s social groups and more.

This year, one Michigan non-profit is actively promoting more emphasis, encouragement and support into IWCBD: Fermenta: A Women’s Craft Collective. Fermenta has made growing education and awareness for women in the fermented food and beverage industry its mission since the group was founded in 2014.

fermenta

Fermenta’s membership and executive board started reaching out months in advance to breweries and organizations to encourage more participation in 2019’s “Unite Forage’ IWCBD. Most brew days are open to everyone, allowing a chance to learn the brewing process, meet craft industry professionals and network with others. IWCBD encourages participating breweries to invite employees and community members to brew at the facility, bringing women together who are passionate about beer.

Following the footsteps of Pink Boots Society and working alongside other Michigan social groups and networking organizations, Fermenta has confirmed collaboration brew dates at the following breweries*:  

Batch Brewing Company, Beards Brewery, EagleMonk Pub and Brewery, Earthen Ales, Our Brewing Company, Perrin Brewing Company, Rare Bird Brewpub, Saugatuck Brewing Company, Short’s Brewing Company, Witch’s Hat Brewing Company, HomeGrown Brewing Company, Waypost Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery, Grand Armory Brewing Company, Redline Brewing Company, Silver Spruce Brewing Company, Bier Distillery, Fillmore 13 and Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse.

Michigan organizations, businesses and groups who are also participating include: Girls Pint Out-Holland, Girls Pint Out-Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti, Girls Pint Out-Petoskey, Flint Area Brewers, Mushroom Head Malt Company, Pink Boot Society-Grand Rapids and Craft Cultures.

To find registered brew days around the world, check the IWCBD map online at www.unitebrew.org.

To get more information on Michigan IWCBD, follow Fermenta on Facebook or ask your local brewery.

 

brewing passion

Michigan Author to Read & Sign Novels at Craft Beer Bar

Ferndale, Mich.—Liz Crowe, an Ann Arbor-based author of over twenty romance novels, will be reading and selling/signing books from the Brewing Passion series at M-Brew in Ferndale on Thursday, February 28 from 6-9 p.m.

 

Tickets for the event are $35 and include:

Pizza, pasta and salad

Six Flight-sized drink tickets

Meet and Greet with Liz

Raffle with beer swag baskets (including some of Liz’s books)

 

M-Brew has organized an entire evening around the theme of “love and craft beer” and will be donating a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to Planned Parenthood of Ferndale. Beers from the following breweries will be included in the flights:

Shorts Brewing

Petoskey Brewing

Odd Side Ales

Drafting Table Brewing Company

Austin Bros Beer Company

Brewery Vivant

Cranker’s Brewery

Atwater Brewing

 

Liz is a brewery founder and former owner. She’s spent years as a craft beer marketing, social media, and sales consultant, and now provides beer and wine consulting for local bars, restaurants and stores in Washtenaw and Livingston Counties on behalf of Arbor Beverage. The majority of her successful romance novels are set in and around the craft beer world. The Brewing Passion series includes five novels, all of which will be available for purchase at the event for $12 each.

 

Purchase tickets here.

Learn more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2271377346518976/

 

brewers grove

Tree Beer Release kicks off on Feb. 15

Grand Rapids, Mich. — From Feb. 15-Mar. 15, many of your favorite Grand Rapids breweries will be serving tree-themed beers to support increasing the city’s urban forest and tree canopy. Brewers Grove is an annual collaboration between Friends of Grand Rapids Parks and Beer City Brewers Guild that raises funds for a tree planting and tree-beer party in the fall.

Participating breweries, distilleries and cider houses have created tree-themed beers to sell during Experience GR’s Beer Month GR. When the month wraps up, they’ll make a donation to Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, a nonprofit organization working to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks, green spaces and trees in the city.

The funds raised from tree beer sales will be used for a community tree planting and tree-beer party where the public can chat with brewers, plant trees and enjoy music and yard games. The trees planted will improve tree diversity in the city, provide a source of food to wildlife and park users and replace removed ash trees lost due to the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic.

“Everyone can agree that we need great green spaces and parks and that planting trees is a good thing,” said Jackson VanDyke, president of Beer City Brewers Guild. “Planting trees is also a concrete way that we can all participate in giving back to our city and the citizens who support us.”

Tree Beer Month will kick off with a celebration at Harmony Hall on Feb. 15.

brewers groveThroughout the month, fans will be able to find tree beer at 26 participating brewers. Harmony Brewing Company will offer DePeach Mode: Peach Gose a traditional Gose brewed with coriander and salt, and fermented on fresh peaches. Brewery Vivant’s feature is Nordhouse IPA brewed with juniper berries, MI-grown Chinook hops, and their farmhouse yeast. It is made in homage to the sprawling juniper trees in the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area. Elk Brewing will offer Black Trumpet Ale brewed with wild harvested mushrooms that mainly grow on Beech, Oak or other broad leaved trees. Black Trumpet mushrooms tend to leech a blackish color and will give a nice earthiness to the beer.

Brewers Grove started in 2013 when local brewers with the Beer City Brewers Guild asked Friends of Grand Rapids Parks how they could give back to parks and public spaces. Since its inception, 159 trees have been planted and over $30,000 have been raised for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

The event helps the City of Grand Rapids get closer to its goal of 40 percent tree cover, adopted in 2011 Green Grand Rapids plan on the recommendation of the City’s Urban Forestry Committee.

“In addition to helping achieve the City’s tree canopy goal, we also want to increase the city’s tree canopy because of all the health, economic, safety and energy benefits trees bring to our community,” said Tori Power, development coordinator at Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

Learn all about Brewers Grove on the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks website.

About Beer City Brewers Guild

As a group of greater Grand Rapids area brewers, in collaboration with beer-centric businesses, the Beer City Brewers Guild works to celebrate, promote and raise awareness of the craft brewing culture in the Grand Rapids community. The nonprofit guild was founded in 2016 to function as a vehicle for collaborations, charitable giving and knowledge sharing around the subject of craft brewing.

About Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is an independent, citizen led, nonprofit organization founded in 2008, working closely with but separate from the City of Grand Rapids. Their mission is to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks, trees and green spaces in the Grand Rapids community. The organization envisions thriving parks and a sustainable urban forest that actively supports the community’s economic, environmental and cultural health.

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