Posts

bells brewery

Bell’s Brewery makes a lot of beer. During a tour of their sprawling facility in Comstock, Michigan, Austin Giles, our guide and the biggest bear hug of a person, spouts trivia at a mile a minute to drive that point home. Here are a few facts that stuck. Every second, two pints of Two Hearted are sold in Michigan. Every ninety minutes, during three different shifts a day, the team starts a new batch, and to get through one four-hundred barrel fermenter, of which they have sixty-six, it would take a person sixty years while drinking a six-pack a day. Giles smiles as though he’s up for the challenge. 

So yeah, Bell’s makes a lot of beer, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost touch with their roots. At the beginning of a timeline tracking the brewery’s milestones, there hangs a soup pot—Larry’s first brewing vessel—that could double as a sacred idol. “You look back at the pot and it’s like, oh my gosh, we were the original nanobrewery,” Bell said. It’s true and frankly insane to see how much has changed. When Bell opened up shop his competition included twenty-five other American breweries—only nine of which remain—and by 2020 we’re on track for upwards of eight thousand. Looking at the soup pot, these numbers leave an impression. This humble cauldron ushered in one of the nation’s largest and most successful breweries.

Despite his stature as a beer titan, Bell comes off disarmingly

down-to-earth and easy to get along with.

 

While moseying among the steel tanks, stories high and warehouses long, it’s hard not to feel awestruck by this empire Bell has built. Now distributed in 40 states, the Bell’s footprint goes toe-to-toe with many big box brandsand on its own terms no less. As AB-InBev continues to gobble up craft breweries, and craft breweries merge into conglomerate fortresses, Bell’s remains one-hundred percent independent and family owned. “Big brewers can say all they want that people don’t care who makes their beer, where it comes from, whether it’s independent,” Bell said. “I happen to know that they do.”  

 

I believe we’d all agree. Still, for as much as they care about their consumer, when I think about Bell’s I think about a pair of leather bootsworn in, trusty, but tucked away in a closet and taken for granted. At times, Bell feels forgotten too, “The number one question we get on tours is, is he still with us?”

He most certainly is, and to share a conversation with him now is to get lost in an aura of enigmatic energy. Despite his stature as a beer titan, Bell comes off disarmingly down-to-earth. We ricochet between his dreams of Bollrathian aliens, admiration for Walt Whitman, and musings on baseball. “When my brain has nothing to do, the place it goes is Cubs,” Bell said. Admittedly, his folkish veneer dissolves when he takes a call regarding his new Aston Martin. The sportscar will accompany his collection of eight Jaguars. Hippy turned tycoon, I can’t name another auteur in the industry quite like Larry Bell. I like to imagine he keeps a copy of Leaves of Grass stashed in every glove box. 

That said, when discussing the company, Bell is lucid. “I feel really good and excited about where we are right now,” Bell said. “We have a lot of energy behind innovation and new brands.” Take Flamingo Fruit Fight, Sparkleberry, and Pooltime for example. There’s a noticeable uptick of fun seeping into the portfolio. The Leaves of Grass series embodies the brewery’s free spirit too, breathing life into one of our country’s most nourishing poems. To borrow from verse, “the human race is filled with passion. So medicine, law, business, engineering… these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for.” Whether the beer takes off or not, it’s touching that Bell would risk sales to indulge a deeply personal project. 

 

Bell’s charters an intriguing way forward during a time when the future of craft beer isn’t entirely clear. Some argue there’s plenty of pie left for newcomers. Others worry how small the slivers are getting. “Let’s face it, we’re seeing the plateau,” Bell said. “Those heady days of 20% growth are gone. A third of the top 50 breweries had negative numbers this year.” 

From the sidelines, it seems like a good time for Bell’s to dig in their heels and pump out Oberon year-round, pile on surplus and see how things shake out, but they refuse to rest on their laurels. In fact, they’ve done the opposite. They’ve invested in a new pilot system to nurture creative recipes on a larger scale, revamped their beer garden to welcome nationally touring acts, and tinkered with their flagships to better reflect a drinker’s taste in 2019. It seems to be working. 

Unfortunately, a lot of press has focused on Bell’s trademark disputes and shifting leadership, but there’s an untold story in how they’re quietly adapting to a changing landscape. As consumer behavior shifts constantly, careful planning has gone into striking a balance between innovation and tradition, and hopefully what this amounts to is Bell’s meaning a little something important to everyone.

Let’s start with the enthusiast, perhaps the hardest to please, because no sooner does Oberon get tapped than it gets maligned on untappd as “worse than last year’s,” or for those who really want to flex their troll cred, “better when it was Solsun.” This vocal minority views Oberon as a scapegoat representing all that’s wrong with mainstream taste. It feels unfair to levy all this anger on one beer. While Oberon does taste mild, even compared to some of its seasonal competition, that’s its intentionto enhance experiences, not distract from them. Ultimately, if it bores, don’t drink it, there’s a wealth of choices to satisfy. Bell’s recently caged and corked The Wild One with raspberries, an open-fermented fruited sour that directly appeals to a beer nerd’s palate. But even these experimental offerings are beside the point. 

“Beer geeks get in their own echo chambers, whether it’s on Beer Advocate or other related groups. From where I sit, the world of beer is quite different,” Bell said. “I look at how much Two Hearted we sell.” As I’m sure you could guess, it’s a lot. “If Two Hearted were its own craft brewery it’d be the 13th largest brewery in the country.” No buts about it, Two Hearted mints cash, but maybe we’re lucky to enjoy this elephant in the brewhouse.  

For the third consecutive year, Zymurgy magazine, the homebrewer’s holy text, voted Two Hearted as the best beer, full stop, ousting the likes of Pliny the Elder and Heady Topper. Bell’s placing could derive from how cozy they are with homebrewers—what other major brewery packages their house yeast for commercial use?—but Matt Moberly, VP of sales and marketing, sees it differently. “Two Hearted’s beauty is in its simplicity,” Moberly said. “I think that sometimes the complexity of trying to innovative and utilize cool-kid hops can overpower the beauty of a balanced beer.” Single-hopped, aromatic, endlessly drinkable, it’s absolutely the six-pack I reach for after getting burned by another New-England murkbomb.

 

This brings us to Official, Bell’s foray into the hazy IPA market, which on a surface level looks like analytics pandering to what’s hot. I’ve caught myself accusing Bell’s of bandwagoning on the hazy train, but Bell anticipated these criticisms from the jump, “Look, we’ve been brewing unfiltered beer for decades,” he said. “If there’s something that’s trendy, how do we do it the Bell’s way, within our ethos and standards.” That means no flour and no shortcuts. While light on haze, the bouquet on Official is huge, and the tasting notes hit requisite citrus flavors without overwhelming the senses.  

A recurring motif from my conversations is the brewery’s insistence on quality. Bell’s gets first pick of centennial hops out west, their foeders are some of the finest in the biz, their brewing and packaging equipment is state of the art and environmentally friendly. They take pride in being a jack of all trades. “We define our brewery based on the breadth of our portfolio, not any single area,” Moberly said. “We strive to be a brewers brewery: let’s be really really good at everything we try.” The Bell’s logo has become synonymous with integrity.

bells brewery

Matt Moberly

So why have some brands like Roundhouse and Quinanan Falls disappeared into the ether? While beer speaks for itself, Moberly has noticed that to capture a younger audience, good liquid on its own doesn’t always cut it. “It’s so crowded now you have to have the total package when you put something out,” he said. “You have to not only have good beer but good branding and imagery for a chance to be successful.” Visually refreshing classics like Porter and Kalamazoo stout shows a willingness to bend even when it hurts. The new typography doesn’t quite match the original’s charm, but the consistent look should block well on store shelves. 

Ultimately, it’s about getting great beer into the hands of those who have overlooked it. For a majority of their brands, this isn’t a problem. Their portfolio has become iconic, slipping into the unexpected cracks of our lives. “I don’t know who climbs a mountain with a can of Coke,” Moberly said. “But they love to carry an Expedition Stout or a Two Hearted, take us along to their favorite places, and share their experiences with us. That’s pretty awesome.” 

Questions of succession remain as Bell reckons with his mortality, “I know I won’t live forever,” he said. I wouldn’t expect a funeral any time soon. His faculties remain acute, and his vision clear as day as a member of the old guard, Bell doesn’t see the craft beer tide reversing any time soon. “The revolution has already won,” he said. “We cracked the cosmic egg.” Whatever the future holds, all signs point to the cosmic scramble turning out in Bell’s favor. 

 

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.

 

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery is proud to announce the upcoming release of its Leaves of Grass series; seven brand new Bell’s beers released about every two months inspired by Walt Whitman’s literary classic.

The series will kick-off in late May 2019 with a German-inspired American IPA and conclude in May 2020. Each specialty beer will be limited and available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles, packaged in 6-packs.

Bell’s Leaves of Grass Series – debuting in May 2019 and concluding in May 2020. Features 7 new beers released about every two months.

 

Bell’s Leaves of Grass series is a celebration of Walt Whitman’s literary classic and one of Larry Bell’s favorites, “Leaves of Grass.” First published in 1855, Whitman’s book of poetry is a hallmark of American literature.

“Over the years, we’ve drawn inspiration from a variety of different sources from music to literature to the Great Lakes,” said Larry Bell, President and Founder of Bell’s Brewery. “This series is just the latest example of how the arts have inspired us to create new and innovative recipes.”

Each new beer will be named after and inspired by one of Whitman’s poems, while each recipe will complement the seasonality of when each beer is released.

The release timing of the first beer does also coincide with Whitman’s 200th birthday.

Bell’s Planets Series, which debuted in 2014 and also featured seven brand new beers, celebrated another one of Larry Bell’s many passions, music. Inspired by Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” the release included fan favorites such as Mars, a Double IPA that has since been re-released after The Planets concluded. Leaves of Grass picks up and continues the success of that series.

 

LEAVES OF GRASS SERIES AT A GLANCE

May 2019: Song of Myself  – German-Inspired American IPA (6.5% ABV)

July 2019: The Prairie-Grass Dividing – Gose-Style Ale Brewed with Plum, Salt & Coriander (4.5% ABV)

September 2019: Oh Captain! My Captain! – TBA

November 2019: To a Locomotive in Winter – TBA

January 2020: Song of the Open Road – TBA

March 2020: Salut Au Monde! – TBA

May 2020: Spontaneous Me – TBA

SERIES OF BELL’S PAST

1992-2010: Batch Series -commemorative batches released at specific milestones, concluding with Batch 10,000.

Late 1990s: 10 Stouts of November (original inspiration for Bell’s annual All Stouts Day celebration in November at its Eccentric Cafe).

2005: Wheat Series – Five beers that experimented with multiple, custom wheat malts fermented with blends of several different yeast strains.

2014-2015: Bell’s Planets Series – Seven beers inspired by Gustav Holst’s musical composition, “The Planets.”

For more information and for updates, keep an eye on Bell’s website, bellsbeer.com.

 

ABOUT BELL’S BREWERY

Bell’s Brewery, Inc. began in 1985 with a quest for better beer and a 15 gallon soup kettle. Since then, we’ve grown into a regional craft brewery that employs more than 550 people over a 39 state area, in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington DC. The dedication to brewing flavorful, unfiltered, quality craft beers that started in 1985 is still with us today. We currently brew over 20 beers for distribution as well as many other small batch beers that are served at our pub in Kalamazoo, the Eccentric Cafe. Our ongoing goal is to brew thoughtfully, creatively and artistically. 100% family-owned and independent, we strive to bring an authentic and pleasant experience to all of our customers through our unique ales and lagers.

 

season oberon

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Oberon Ale officially returns March 25th, signaling the end of winter and return of summer.Bars, restaurants, retail locations and fans will celebrate Oberon’s return with midnight tappings, release parties, pub crawls and other special events throughout the week.

“I think we’re all ready to put winter away and say hello to warmer weather with an annual tradition: raising that first Oberon of the season,” said Larry Bell, founder and president of Bell’s Brewery.

“We’ll see if Mother Nature agrees, but we already have spring training (baseball) and between the two, that’s a good start,” he said.

One of Bell’s most popular beers, Oberon (5.8% ABV) is an American Wheat Ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel. A classic summer beer, Oberon is only brewed with water, malted wheat and barley, hops and yeast. It is available seasonally beginning in late March through August (Arizona and Florida are year-round distribution states).

This year’s release will mark the first official Oberon Day for Bell’s fans in Colorado, New England and New Jersey.

Oberon will be available on draft, in six-packs (12 oz. bottles and cans), twelve packs (12 oz. cans and bottles) and 4-packs (16 oz. cans). Six-packs of 12 oz. cans are new this year for those who live in states where Oberon is not available year-round. Oberon mini-kegs will ship in May.

oberon season

Bell’s fans on Untappd can check-in to their first Oberon of 2019 to claim a special commemorative release badge starting on March 25 through April 1. Everyone is invited to share photos of their first pints and how they are celebrating on social media by using the hashtags #OberonDay and #bellsbeer and by tagging Bell’s (@bellsbrewery on Twitter and Instagram).

For those who need a little help getting out of work, class or other responsibilities on Oberon Day, a brand new Oberon Day Excuse Generator is now live. Fans can send pre-made “official” Oberon Day excuse notes to their bosses or others at http://bellsbeer.com/excuse/. There is also a special Oberon frame you can add to your Facebook profile picture.

Bell’s pub, the Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo, will open at 9 a.m. on March 25 (this celebration is 21 and up all day). There will be live entertainment, food specials, special tappings, games and prizes. Sold out, free Oberon Day tours will also he held throughout the morning and afternoon with bus trips to Bell’s main brewery in nearby Comstock and back to the Eccentric Cafe.

For more information about where to enjoy that first sip of summer, check out Oberon recipes, learn about the history of the beer and more, visit bellsbeer.com or join Bell’s on social media – FacebookTwitterInstagramSnapchat and Untappd.

 

bell's brewery

Double Two Hearted, Official & more

COMSTOCK, Mich. – A new year is in full-swing and Bell’s Brewery has a number of incredible releases planned for 2019.

First up is Hopslam. Cans, kegs and mini-kegs started shipping on Jan. 2. Events and special tappings continue as fresh Hopslam make its way to its final destinations after leaving the brewery.

Following Hopslam was the release of Larry’s Latest Flamingo Fruit Fight, a new tart Fruit Ale brewed with passionfruit and lime zest. Bottles, cans and kegs have started shipping and begun appearing on store shelves and on tap. Flamingo Fruit Fight is the latest packaged release in the Larry’s Latest series, beers that highlight and continue the innovation that Larry Bell started in 1985 and continues at Bell’s to this day.

In February, Bell’s Official Hazy IPA will start heading out as Bell’s newest year-round offering. Cans, bottles and kegs will head to all of its markets followed closely by the return of summer and Oberon Ale! This year’s Oberon Release Day is set for March 25. Oberon mini-kegs featuring a brand new design for 2019 will follow later this summer.

“This is just a preview of coming attractions, though not all of them are ready to share just yet. We still have a few more surprises to come,” Larry Bell, President and Founder of Bell’s Brewery said.  “A few years ago we debuted The Planets Series, beers inspired by the work of Gustav Holst. This year, we’re going to introduce a new series inspired by the arts, but this time a little closer to home.”

“Our Leaves of Grass series will kick off later this year, we’ll have more to share on that soon,” he added.

2019 will also see the return of Sparkleberry and, after a two year hiatus, Smitten will also return in bottles and on draft.

Debuting in bottles for the first time will be the highly sought after Double Two Hearted, everything Bell’s fans love about our classic Two Hearted Ale, but in a Double IPA. It will ship in July.

Also coming in 2019 will be new packaging options, some new looks for Bell’s classics and an impressive lineup of Bell’s General Store exclusives, including 750 mL bottles that are a direct result of recent investments in Bell’s innovation pipeline. Consecrator Doppelbock and Quinannan Falls will both be bottled on Bell’s Specialty Line for release at the General Store as well.

Hopsoulution, a Double IPA that was added to Bell’s year-round lineup for Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin last year will continue to be available in those states with the addition of Minnesota in April. It will remain a specialty release for the rest of Bell’s distribution footprint.

Other returning favorites include Third Coast Old Ale, Expedition Stout, Octoberfest, Arabicadabra Coffee Milk Stout and much more.

bell's brewery

2019 releases at a glance

(Specialty releases will be limited and availability will vary from area to area.)

JANUARY

  • Hopslam Double IPA (10% ABV) – 12 oz. cans packaged in 6-packs, 5L mini-kegs and draft
  • Larry’s Latest Flamingo Fruit Fight (5% ABV) – 16 oz. cans packaged in 4-packs, 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs plus draft

FEBRUARY

  • Official Hazy IPA (6.4% ABV) – 12 oz. cans packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs (Michigan only), 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs plus draft

MARCH

  • Oberon Ale (5.8% ABV) – 12 oz. cans packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs (NEW), 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs, 16 oz. cans packaged in 4-packs and draft

APRIL

  • Hopsoulution Double IPA* (8% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and draft

MAY

  • Smitten Ale (6% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs and draft
  • Pooltime Ale (5% ABV) – 12 oz. cans packaged in 6-packs and draft
  • 5L Oberon mini-kegs
  • First release in our new Leaves of Grass series (TBA).

JUNE

  • Sparkleberry Ale (9% ABV) – 16 oz. cans packaged in 4-packs and draft)

JULY

  • Double Two Hearted (11% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 4-packs and draft
  • Second release in our new Leaves of Grass series (TBA).

AUGUST

  • Special Double Cream Stout (6.1% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs

SEPTEMBER

  • Best Brown Ale (5.8% ABV) – 12 oz. cans packaged in 6-packs (NEW) and 12-packs, 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs, 16 oz. cans packaged in 4-packs and draft
  • Octoberfest Beer (5.5% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs plus draft
  • Expedition Stout (10.5% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and draft
  • Third Coast Old Ale (10.2% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and draft
  • Third release in our new Leaves of Grass series (TBA).
  • Returning Double IPA (TBA)

OCTOBER

  • Arabicadabra Coffee Milk Stout (5.5% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and draft

NOVEMBER

  • Winter White Ale (5% ABV) – 12 oz. cans packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs (NEW), 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs, 16 oz. cans packaged in 4-packs and draft
  • Christmas Ale (7.4% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and 12-packs, draft
  • Cherry Stout (7% ABV) – 12 oz. bottles packaged in 6-packs and draft
  • Fourth release in our new Leaves of Grass series (TBA).

*Hopsoulution is a year-round release for a handful of Bell’s states and a specialty release for the majority of Bell’s distribution area. 


ABOUT BELL’S BREWERY, INC.

Bell’s Brewery, Inc. began in 1985 with a quest for better beer and a 15 gallon soup kettle. Since then, we’ve grown into a regional craft brewery that employs more than 550 people over a 40 state area, in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington DC. The dedication to brewing flavorful, unfiltered, quality craft beers that started in 1985 is still with us today. We currently brew over 20 beers for distribution as well as many other small batch beers that are served at our pub in Kalamazoo, the Eccentric Cafe. Our ongoing goal is to brew thoughtfully, creatively and artistically. 100% family-owned and independent, we strive to bring an authentic and pleasant experience to all of our customers through our unique ales and lagers.

 

bells brewery

 

WHAT: Bell’s Brewery is expanding its Dark Night, Darker Beers celebration following the success of its Michigan-focused event in 2017. This year, celebrations will be held across Bell’s distribution footprint.

These events will celebrate the longest night of the year (the Winter Solstice) with multiple Bell’s stouts on tap including two specialties that rarely travel beyond the Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo. The exact lineup will vary from event to event, but below are some of the stouts that will be available:

  • Trumpeter’s Stout (4% ABV) – Originally debuting as one of the “10 Stouts of November” in 2001, this beer has seen a couple of recipe tweaks over the years. This latest version takes the same hop and malt profile as the previous and adds a small amount of lactobacillus for a low-alcohol, incredibly drinkable and flavorful session stout.
  • Bear Hug Imperial Stout (9.5% ABV) – Brewed with a careful selection of caramel and roasted malts, the end result is a moderate, smooth roasted maltiness that is warming and gentle, but still firm. Bear Hug is an Imperial Stout that showcases hop aroma without being overly bitter.
  • Arabicadabra Coffee Milk Stout (5.5% ABV) – A little brewers’ magic transforms locally roasted Arabica beans and a variety of specialty malts into a creamy, intense coffee stout. Arabicadabra is brewed with a cold coffee extract made at the brewery using a combination of fair trade, organic Nicaraguan coffee beans and Sumatra coffee beans. Lactose is also used for creaminess.
  • Cherry Stout (7% ABV) – Tinted ruby-black, Cherry Stout gains its signature tartness from 100% Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan’s Traverse City region. Rather than doubling up on sweetness, this tart cherry varietal serves as a counterpoint to the warm, dark chocolate notes from the malt bill. Lightly hopped for balance, this beer is one of the cornerstones of Bell’s stout portfolio.
  • Expedition Stout (10.5% ABV) – One of the earliest examples of Russian Imperial Stouts in the United States, Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with aging in mind. A huge malt body is matched with a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruit and other aromas.
  • 30th Anniversary Cherry Stout Reserve (9% ABV) – This version was brewed in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bell’s Cherry Stout, another specialty beer that was first brewed in 1988 as a nod to a local homebrew club in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It has grown to be one of the most anticipated beers we brew at the brewery every year. This version is brewed with whole cherries and oak chips. Coming in at 9.0% ABV, this commemorative batch is a celebration of what Cherry Stout means to the brewery.
  • Whiskey Barrel Aged Cherry Stout (9.3% ABV) – Aged for up to 12 months in whiskey barrels, our signature Cherry Stout evolves into something even more flavorful and complex. Notes of oak, vanilla and dark chocolate are intertwined with tart Michigan cherries in a stout that seduces the palate.
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout (13.4%) – This beer is a 12 month barrel-aged version of our award-winning Expedition Stout.
  • Special Double Cream Stout (6.1%) – Named for its velvety smooth, creamy texture, this incredibly rich stout is brewed with 10 different specialty roasted malts chosen for their notes of rich mocha and espresso. Dark and sweet tones intermingle with a soft, roasty finish.

bells brewery

 

As part of this celebration, a special Bell’s Dark Night, Darker Beers 2018 Untappd badge will also be available to anyone who checks into a Bell’s stout during the week of Dec. 15. It will be available to unlock until midnight on Dec. 22.

WHO: Bell’s Brewery is Michigan’s oldest and largest independent craft brewery. For decades, stouts have held a special place in its portfolio from the year-round Kalamazoo Stout to Expedition Stout not to mention Black Note and so many more.

WHY: The Winter Solstice, also known as the longest night of the year, is a perfect time to celebrate a style that so many love and appreciate. Brewing a wide variety of stouts is one of the ways Bell’s celebrates its independence. This is a unique opportunity for Bell’s beer fans to sample and enjoy both rare and readily available stouts during a time of year that pairs so perfectly well together with dark and roasty beers.

WHEN: Dec. 16-22, with some events held on Friday, Dec. 21 at 5:23 p.m. to coincide with this year’s Winter Solstice (event start times may vary from location to location).

WHERE: Locations across Bell’s distribution footprint, visit bellsbeer.com for more information and updates as they become available.

 

WHAT AND WHY: To celebrate the 35th Anniversary of Ashley’s Pub in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bell’s Brewery has brewed a special commemorative batch of beer. Ashley’s 35th Anniversary Ale is an Imperial Oatmeal Stout with an ABV of 8.5%. It will only be available on draught.

Bell’s previously brewed a Brown Ale to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Ashley’s in 2013. Larry Bell also celebrates 35 years with Bell’s Brewery this year. Bell founded the Kalamazoo Brewing Co., specializing in homebrew supplies and ingredients, two years before the brewery sold its first commercial craft beer.

 

Jeff More, co-owner of Ashley’s Pub in Ann Arbor helps brew a special anniversary ale at Bell’s Comstock Brewery.

 

“Ashley’s exists to help people to have a great time. One of the ways we do this is by offering great beers like Bell’s. We’ve been serving Bell’s continuously since Larry first started to bring his beers over to us back in the mid-1980s” Roy More, Co-Founder of Ashley’s said.

“It is not how many lines of beers a place has, but the beers on the lines. That’s why we offer Bell’s,” he added.

 

 

WHO: Bell’s Brewery is the oldest and largest independent craft brewery in Michigan and the 7th largest craft brewery in the country. Ashley’s Pub is one of Bell’s earliest supporters and one of the oldest pubs in the state.

 

WHEN: A week-long celebration beginning Sept. 16, 2018 at 5 p.m. with at least 15 different draught beers including Bell’s Honey Hearted, Hopsoulution Double IPA, Octoberfest, Pomegranate Oarsman, Uberon, Larry’s Latest IPA, Larry’s Latest Fruit Ale, Two Hearted, Best Brown, Amber Ale and more. These beers will be available while supplies last at Ashely’s Ann Arbor location only.

Other anniversary events in Ann Arbor are:

  • Monday, Sept. 17: Trivia Night, 7-9 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 18: Barrel Flights (2014 Black Note, 2016 Black Note, Saturn, Whiskey Barrel Aged Cherry Stout), 6-10 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 19: Brewers Happy Hour (food and beer pairing), 6-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 20: Mystery Tapping (Black Note fans will want to take note, and no, it’s not Black Note), 6 p.m.

 

WHERE: This limited, anniversary stout will only be available on tap at Ashley’s Ann Arbor (338 South State St.) and Westland (7525 N. Wayne Road) locations in addition to Bell’s Eccentric Café (355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.) in downtown Kalamazoo.

 

 

future brewers

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery, in partnership with Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University’s Sustainable Brewing program, is proud to announce an incredible opportunity that will help develop and nurture future brewers right here in Michigan.

The Bell’s Brewery Development Award will give participants experience in four key departments over the course of one year. Students will rotate through and gain valuable insight into Bell’s Quality, Brewing, Packaging and Brewing Innovation at its main brewery in Comstock.

“Talent continues to be in high demand within the brewing industry and by partnering with these two educational institutions, we are able to inspire candidates who not only have a shared passion for Brewing Science, but also roots here in Michigan,” said Carrie M. Yunker, Bell’s Director of Human Resources.

Yunker, along with John Mallett, Bell’s Director of Production, and Stephanie Blodgett, Bell’s Talent Acquisition Coordinator, developed this new program with Mike Babb, KVCC Sustainable Brewing Instructor, and Steve Bertman, WMU Department of Chemistry Professor.

“Southwest Michigan is a hub for craft brewing in no small part because of Bell’s and this new position is an unbelievable opportunity for our students. Bell’s has put together a thoughtful and generous position for someone to get hands-on experience in all aspects of production at a thriving and world-renowned craft brewery. That they are reserving this position for someone from our program is a recognition of the care and rigor that we have incorporated from the very beginning,” said Bertman.

The WMU and KVCC brewing program was developed in 2015 by the two schools working in close coordination with the industry. The resulting “two-plus-two” program in sustainable craft brewing offers students the opportunity to earn a certificate or associate degree at KVCC, then move on to a Bachelor of Science degree at WMU.

The rigorous science curriculum was developed with input from an external advisory board comprised of a dozen of Michigan’s top craft brewers, many of them in West Michigan, which has one of the country’s highest per-capita densities of craft brewers.

“This is the kind of collaboration that we envisioned when we created the program together with KVCC,” said Bertman.

“Partnering the strengths of the two largest institutions of higher education in Kalamazoo with the incredibly experienced and diverse breweries in the area provides a great structure for students who are interested in enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of the industry.”

“We are more than delighted that Bell’s is providing this opportunity for our graduates,” Babb added.

“As a leader in the craft brewing industry, we sincerely appreciate Bell’s support of our award winning program and students.”

Nationally, craft beer accounts for more than 12 percent of beer sales, and the industry is becoming a significant generator of jobs and revenues. Craft brewing contributed $2.09 billion to Michigan’s economy in 2016 according to the Brewers’ Association, making it 9th on the list of states in which the industry has the greatest economic impact.

WMU and KVCC will start accepting submissions in January. The final day to apply will be March 1 and the internship will begin on April 30.

Those selected must have a completed a KVCC Sustainable Brewing Certificate from the recognized program. This opportunity is available exclusively to KVCC and WMU students.

 

Photo courtesy Western Michigan University