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COMSTOCK, Mich – The 7th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition Kick-off and Expo will be held this year on Sept. 10 at Bell’s Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.

The homebrewer who takes first place will get to brew their recipe at Bell’s original brewery to then go on tap at the adjacent Café.

The first place winner will also attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado as a guest of Bell’s Brewery. That person will team up with Bell’s for the 2017 Pro-Am Competition and attend both the awards ceremony and member’s only session.

Bell’s will cover the cost of airfare to Denver and back (must be within the continental U.S.) and provide lodging for two nights.

“Homebrewing is how we got our start and this competition is one of the ways we honor that heritage. To be able to offer this kind of opportunity to a community that has given us so much is incredible and we are very happy to do it,” said Laura Bell, Vice President of Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

As in previous years, there is no cost to enter the competition and the only requirement is that you use Bell’s wort, which will be available for free at the kick-off, while supplies last.

This year’s Expo will run from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and will feature Blichmann Engineering, Briess Malt, Pilot Malt House, Stir Starters, Whirlpool, Kalamazoo Libation Organization of Brewers (KLOB) and others.

Sign-up times for wort pickup will begin at 11 a.m. Wort will be distributed beginning around 1 p.m., first come, first served. In past years, more than 200 homebrewers have been able to receive wort.

Competition entries (four 12 oz. bottles) are due to the Bell’s General Store by 7 p.m., Sunday, October 30.

The 2015 winning recipe, from David Hellen of New Hudson, MI, will be tapped for the first time at 2 p.m. on Aug. 13 at the Café. Bale So Hard is a Farmhouse Ale brewed with HBC 438 and Mosaic hops.

Previous winners also include –

2014: Coffee Mustache, a California Common style beer brewed with coffee from Matt VanNatter.

2013: Proud Mitten, a dry hopped IPA/Pale Ale made with Centennial, Citra and Simcoe hops from David Lyman.

2012: Manden Med Leen, a black IPA brewed with Belgian yeast from Nick Rodammer.

2011: A Bit of Heat from Geoff Groff, brewed with paradise seeds, rose hips and habaneros.

2010: Oscar’s Folly, a collaborative IPA from Jarrett Cupp, Bailey Cupp and Paul Gentz.

For more information about entering this year’s competition, please visit bellsbeer.com.

OctoberfestCOMSTOCK, MICH – One of Bell’s Brewery’s fall favorites is returning to the bottling line for the first time in five years.

Bell’s Octoberfest Beer (5.5% ABV) will also debut in 12-packs of 12 oz. bottles when it starts shipping in August. Bottles, six-packs and 12-packs will all feature the refreshed Bell’s logo and packaging.

This limited, sessionable lager will ship to all states Bell’s distributes to.

“Octoberfest is a brewery and a fan favorite, one that we get a lot of questions about,” said Bell’s Vice President Laura Bell.

“This is the year we can finally say yes, Octoberfest is coming back in bottles. It has been too long, it’s a perfect way to welcome cooler weather,” she said.

Smooth and highly drinkable, Bell’s Octoberfest opens the door to the coming autumn with a light, dry toasted malt note without too much sweetness.

Additional details will be shared at bellsbeer.com and on Bell’s social media as they become available.

upper hand brewery

Escanaba, Mich — ­Upper Hand Brewery is throwing a BBQ ­Yooper Style  in the backyard of their brewery this summer. The brewery¹s First-Ever Backyard BBQ will take place on Saturday, July 23, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 3525 Airport Rd, Escanaba, MI.

Tickets to the BBQ are $25 in advance and $30 day of. Admission includes first beer, commemorative pint glass, all the BBQ you can eat, free lawn games and music by local U.P. favorites Driver, Conga Se Menne and Grassfire. To celebrate the occasion, Upper Hand will also be tapping a number of specialty beers during the event.

“Our fans and the local Escanaba community have been amazing with their support of the brewery and we wouldn’t be here without them,” commented Larry Bell, President and Founder of Upper Hand Brewery and Bell¹s Brewery, Inc. (Upper Hand is a division of Bell¹s). “The BBQ is a chance to not only celebrate summer in the U.P., but even more so, everyone who has helped us get where we are today.”

For more info or to purchase tickets, visit the brewery’s taproom in Escanaba or go to www.uppperhandbrewery.com. All attendees must be 21 or over.

ABOUT UPPER HAND BREWERY

Brewed on a 20-barrel system in Escanaba, Michigan, our beers celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of the north and our community. We may be a young brewery, but our roots run deep. Upper Hand beers are available throughout the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin. We brew our beer in the North, where it is meant to be enjoyed. We invite you to visit and enjoy not only our beer, but the wonder and beauty of Michigan¹s Upper Peninsula.

You can also stay in touch with Upper Hand on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

upper hand brewery

ESCANABA, Mich. – Upper Hand Brewery is excited to announce the upcoming release of its newest specialty beer, Double Ringer, a Double India Pale Ale (IPA).

Meant to celebrate the spring thaw in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Double Ringer is the ninth beer to be released since Upper Hand opened its doors in November 2014, including four year-round offerings.

“You’ll find few places where spring is more vibrant than northern Michigan. With its intense aromas and flavors, Double Ringer will stir up your senses, just like the perfect spring day,” commented Larry Bell, President and Founder of Upper Hand Brewery and Bell’s Brewery, Inc. (Upper Hand is a division of Bell’s).

Brewed solely with Equinox hops, Double Ringer is robust and hop-forward, coming in with an ABV of 10.0 %. Offering a blend of pine and tropical fruit aromas, with a bit of malt backbone, this Double IPA is a beer that should be enjoyed fresh.

It is named for that elusive, perfect throw made while enjoying a friendly game of horseshoes in the backyard.

Double Ringer will be available in limited quantities on draught and in bottles throughout the U.P. and Northern Wisconsin beginning in early April, just in time for spring.

upper hand brewery

kalamazoo beer week

As the new year begins, Kalamazoo likes to start it off right by hosting the annual Kalamazoo Beer Week.  During the middle of January, Kalamazoo invites locals and visitors to come and celebrate their appreciation for craft beer. Local restaurants and breweries have come together to create a weeklong series of events that promotes different craft beers from Michigan and other states through dinners, tap takeovers, and lively events held all around Kalamazoo. Some events provide their guests opportunities to dine with local brewers over a dinner designed to be paired with their beer. Other events offer the chance to challenge a brewer to a Mario Kart race while sipping on their KBW specialty beer on tap.

This year Kalamazoo has selected to host KBW from January 16 – January 23. Local breweries started the week off with several release partys and tastings around the area. All week long, Gonzo’s Biggdogg Brewing will be serving KBW limited release beers on tap and ending it with a barrel aged beer week finale that will include five barrel aged beers.

Both Brite Eyes Brewing Co. and Tibb’s Brewing Company have teamed up with local beer enthusiasts, the Malt Mavens, to brew special beers for KBW. Brite Eyes will be serving their collaboration, a Spiced Rye Stout, on tap starting January 20 while Tibb’s will tap their Beardless Blonde Ale on January 22.

Bell’s Brewery is partnering with Louie’s Trophy House on January 21 to host “Beat the Brewer at the Putting Green.” Louie’s invites KBW partygoers to come and enjoy some Bell’s beer while challenging a Bell’s Brewer on the green.

Towards the end of the week, Kalamazoo Beer Exchange will be hosting a never-before-seen Total Tap Takeover of Hop Head Farms on Friday January 22. They will be serving twenty-eight local beers brewed with hops from the local Hop Head Farms.

Even though these events are only a select few of all the ones KBW has to offer, they are great examples of how Kalamazoo has set out to help attendees create a relationship with craft beer.

If you are interested in the events KBW has to offer this year, check out the events page on their website.

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KALAMAZOO – Think your homebrew is a winner? Enter it in the annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition on Sept. 19 at the Kick-Off and Expo event at Bell’s Eccentric Café, and you could find yourself in Denver for the 2016 Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

The first place winner gets to brew his or her recipe at Bell’s original brewery and have it served on tap at the Eccentric Café. The first place winner will also win a free trip to the 2016 GABF in Denver as a guest of Bell’s Brewery with exclusive access to some of the festival’s events.

Bell’s will cover the airfare cost of a round trip to Denver—so long as the winner is within the continental U.S.—as well as lodging for two nights. While the winner is in Denver, he or she will team up with Bell’s for the 2016 Pro-Am Competition, which pairs homebrewers with commercial brewers to compete for top honors. The winner will also attend the awards ceremony and members-only session.

The only requirement of entering the competition is that participants use Bell’s wort in their brew, which they can obtain at Bell’s Homebrew Competition Kick-Off and Expo event on Sept. 19.

The Kick-Off and Expo event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and sign-up for wort pick-up will start immediately at 11 a.m. and distribution of the wort will start at 1 p.m. Only a limited amount of wort is available, so it will be distributed in a first-come-first-served fashion. In the past years, over 200 individuals have been able to receive wort.

Learn more about the event here and start planning your perfect recipe. Entries are due by Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.

KALAMAZOO – Bell’s Brewery, Inc. celebrated its 30th anniversary on Saturday with its own beer festival dubbed “Funvitational.”

Homer Stryker Field was transformed into a carnival atmosphere complete with a Ferris wheel, games, photo booth, and food vendors. The main features, though, were the beer tents spread around the field that housed ninety breweries from near and far. Many of them had never served beers in Michigan before and don’t distribute here. All of the local Kalamazoo breweries were invited to participate alongside those from as far away as Belgium. Each guest brewery’s table had two taps for serving its carefully curated selections.

Guests arrived at the festival grounds on foot, by bike, and in cars, buses, and shuttles—including the silly, yet functional Big Banana Car.

The 3,000 ticket holders began their celebration as early as noon in a holding area where they exchanged their shiny multicolored event ticket for a wristband, commemorative tasting glass, and a guide booklet containing pages of carnival style tickets valid for 12 beer samples and $8 worth of food. They were able to bring and share their favorite beers while waiting for the festival to begin. Many rare and special brews were being passed around from group to group as they anticipated the official start.

When the time came to move from the holding area to the the festival site, the Detroit Party Marching Band led the line with their enthusiastic style of showmanship and lively tunes.

Numerous breweries deviated from their announced plans and brought special surprises. Perhaps the biggest was Cigar City Brewing from Florida who brought its coveted Double Barrel Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout, a beer brewed only once and now retired. Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project from Colorado pleased fans of its Petite Sour series by adding Raspberry to its lineup.

Russian River Brewing Company from California served Supplication and its highly rated Pliny the Elder Double IPA, although it wasn’t Pliny’s debut in Michigan as it had been served at the American Homebrewers Association conference in Grand Rapids last year. The line for its table stretched across the field until the taps ran dry midway through the evening.

Bell’s served more than 30 beers at its home plate setup, as well as several from its Upper Hand Brewery division that doesn’t distribute in the Lower Peninsula. Bell’s Brewery’s retired Batch Number series was well represented with six of the earliest incarnations on tap. New beers created for the occasion made their debuts throughout the event.

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“When we started planning this a year ago it was like ‘Ok, we know this is our 30th anniversary, what do we need to do to make sure that we have enough awesome beer to do it?’” said Vice President Laura Bell. “Because we can’t just put something in a barrel and then two weeks later have it be what you want it to be or try to organize all of the brews so, yeah, we’ve been working for about a year to make sure we had new and different exciting stuff.”

Guests and breweries alike were buzzing about Funvitational being one of the most organized and enjoyable events they’ve been a part of. Anne Sprecher of Wisconsin’s Sprecher Brewing Company, which also celebrated its 30th anniversary of brewing recently, said “This is awesome. Very well organized and it is what they say it is, it’s fun!”

“Our goal is to make this fun for brewers, too, right? You get invited to beer festivals and you’ve got to set up your own shit, and so everything is already tapped and set up for the brewers (at Funvitational),” said Bell. “All they have to do is show up and they get to play for an hour before everybody gets here. If you’re throwing a birthday party you don’t tell people to come and do all the work.”

Many Bell’s Brewery employees were part of the ample workforce who did the preparation and continued to ensure a smooth day for all in attendance.

Maine Brewing Company owner Daniel Kleban, who has roots in Michigan, spoke highly of his experience.

“I had no idea what to expect coming to this festival. I was just happy to be invited because I have a great respect for Larry and Laura, and John [Mallett, Director of Operations], and what they’ve done here with this brewery,” he said. “I had no idea if people would know who we were. I mean, we don’t sell beer here so it’s great,” he added about the welcome he’s received by people coming to his table for pours of Lunch and Another One.

“Obviously we love Michigan beer, and there are festivals that showcase that and the Guild does a fantastic job doing that,” said Bell. “We wanted to do something a little bit different, and having the opportunity to have breweries from all over the world here who don’t distribute to our state and to get to bring that here is something that we’re really proud of and excited for.”

“I think people take beer too seriously sometimes and at the end of the day, we make beer and beer is fun so let’s celebrate not only being able to drink some really great beers but have fun with our community,” said Bell. “Just take a deep breath, enjoy yourselves, don’t think about it too hard!”

A fireworks display behind home plate closed the festival after a rousing speech by President and Founder Larry Bell as he and his hard-working team were applauded by the crowd. Afterward, many people made their way to the Bell’s Beer Garden for the final outdoor show of the season, a free dance party with DJ sets of funk and soul music.

Colorado fans and midwest transplants, rejoice! Bell’s beer will venture west to Colorado during the weeks surrounding the Great American Beer Festival.

Starting Sept. 21, Crooked Stave Artisans will temporarily distribute Bell’s beer across its entire distribution footprint including the cities of Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs.

“This was a unique opportunity for us to finally be able to bring our beer to Colorado, even though it’s just for a short time,” said Laura Bell, Vice President of Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

Bell’s fans have taken to the brewery’s Facebook page to express their excitement for the brand’s limited-time distribution in Colorado. For many it is a chance to stock up on staple brews like Two Hearted—and to try harder-to-find classics like Amber Ale and Expedition Stout.

“Every time I head back to Michigan I stock up,” said one Facebook commenter in response to Bell’s announcement.

“Thank you for letting me do so without the 24-hour drive.”

Bottles of Amber Ale, Best Brown Ale, Expedition Stout, Kalamazoo Stout, Midwestern Pale Ale, Oarsman Ale, and Two Hearted Ale will be available to purchase.

Best Brown and Two Hearted Ale cans will also be available.

Draught options will include Amber, Oarsman, Two Hearted, Black Note, Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout, Coffee Mustache, Double Two Hearted Ale, Lavender Saison, Mars DIPA, Raspberry Wild One, and The Wild One.

For more information visit bellsbeer.com.