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COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery, Inc. is proud to announce that effective Feb. 1, Laura Bell, co-owner, has assumed the role of CEO.

Larry Bell will continue in his role as president and remain active in various projects, including long-term planning and overall direction with Laura reporting directly to him.

laura bell“When I started this, I didn’t know that I would be so fortunate to have a partner that shared my passion for our brewery and the people who make it what it is,” Larry Bell, Bell’s founder, said.

A second generation co-owner, Laura will oversee all brewery operations and planning for Bell’s and its sister brewery in Escanaba, Upper Hand Brewery. Bell’s is the 7th largest craft brewery in the U.S.

“This marks the beginning of the next chapter for our family-owned business and I am very proud of the leader Laura has become,” Larry Bell said.

This change in leadership will further strengthen our future in this ever changing marketplace.

“I am honored and humbled at this opportunity. Our team has done an amazing job and it’s exciting to think about where we go next not only as a brewery, but also as a company that is deeply committed to its community, its employees and partners,” Laura Bell said.

“I have learned a lot from my father and I look forward to continuing the work he started in 1985,” she said.

Laura was just 2 months old when her father founded Bell’s Brewery. She spent much of her childhood helping with odd jobs and eventually worked in the Eccentric Café’s kitchen during high school.

Laura officially started working at the brewery full-time in 2007. Since then, she has spent time in sales, all areas of beer production and in marketing. As Vice President, she oversaw the brewery’s Business Insights, Government Compliance, Marketing, Sales and Specialty Brewing departments.

Laura is deeply rooted in Kalamazoo and an active member of the community.

 

Bell's

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery’s 2017 release calendar features archive favorites, a new bottled beer and quite a few specialties.

“We have a lot of exciting plans for next year and we wanted to give our fans and partners a preview,” Laura Bell, Bell’s Vice President and Co-owner said.

Mars, The Bringer of War, will return for its second appearance. Mars was part of Bell’s limited seven-part Planets Series, inspired by the music of Gustav Holst. This Double IPA will see greater distribution than in 2014, but will still be limited. It will ship in April.

Hell Hath No Fury … Ale, a Belgian-inspired Dark Ale, will also return from the Bell’s archive in September.

Bell's“A few of our favorites will be taking a break, but aren’t being permanently retired,” she said.

We also reserve the right to add a few surprises, she added.

As previously announced, Am I Right or Amarillo, an American IPA made with 100% Amarillo® hops, will ship exclusively to Texas when Bell’s launches its 31st state in early March.

A Bell’s specialty stout will also make its debut in bottles in the fall. Additional details about that beer will be announced at a later date.

Oberon, Bell’s seasonal American wheat ale, will return on March 27, giving fans an eagerly awaited first taste of summer. Five-liter mini-kegs will start shipping in May. Oberon will be the only Bell’s beer to be released in mini-kegs next year.

Year round beers (Amber, Two Hearted, Third Coast Beer, Oatsmobile, Oarsman, Lager of the Lakes, Kalamazoo Stout and Porter) and other Bell’s seasonals (Smitten, Best Brown and Winter White) will all return.

 Other returning Bell’s specialties:

  • JANUARY: Hopslam (12 oz. cans and draught)
  • FEBRUARY: Consecrator Doppelbock (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • MAY: Pooltime – Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale brewed with cherry juice (12 oz. cans and draught)
  • JUNE: Quinannan Falls India Pale Lager (12 oz. cans and draught)
  • SEPTEMBER: Octoberfest Beer (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • SEPTEMBER: Special Double Cream Stout (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • SEPTEMBER: Roundhouse India Red Ale (12 oz. cans and draught)
  • SEPTEMBER: Expedition Stout (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • SEPTEMBER: Third Coast Old Ale (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • NOVEMBER: Cherry Stout (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • NOVEMBER: Christmas Ale (12 oz. bottles and draught)
  • DECEMBER: Eccentric Ale (12 oz. bottles and draught) – Bell’s General Store and Eccentric Café release only (Kalamazoo)

For more information and for updates, keep an eye on Bell’s website, bellsbeer.com, or join them on social media.

 

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Winners of the 7th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition were announced Nov. 6 during the 8th Annual All Stouts Day at Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., in downtown Kalamazoo.

Eleven homebrewers placed out of the 146 that submitted this year.

First place went to Evan Monroe for his hoppy Saison brewed with peaches.

 

Monroe will get to brew his recipe at Bell’s original brewery to then go on tap at the adjacent Café. He will also head to the 2017 Great American Beer Festival in Denver as a guest of Bell’s and compete alongside a Bell’s brewer in the Pro-Am Competition.

“Our judges saw a lot of experimentation again this year and overall, there was a solid mix of traditional beer styles and those that pushed style definition. Our top winners reflect that mix very well,” said David Curtis, Bell’s General Store Operations Manager and competition organizer.

Second place went to brothers Chad Hutson and Daryl Hutson for their Belgian Double IPA.

Third place went to Jay Vanbuskirk for his Black IPA.

This year’s runners up are (in no particular order):

  • Ross Winter – Imperial Stout w/bourbon soaked oak chips
  • Steve Morren – Sour Brown Ale
  • Kevin Kolk – Hibiscus and ginger fruit beer
  • Andy Akers – Belgian Wit/American Pale Ale hybrid
  • David Cohoe – Golden Ale with a roasty character
  • David Lyman (2013 competition winner) – IPA
  • Stephen Hardy – IPA
  • David Nowell – Grape Saison

“The number and skill of those who have competed over the years is incredibly inspiring. We are very proud to support this community and to see that familiar drive and passion reflected by so many,” said Laura Bell, Bell’s Vice President and Co-owner.

More information about when this year’s winning recipe will be tapped at the Café will be released as it becomes available. Judges’ comments are available to be picked up at the Bell’s General Store.

Previous first place winners include –

2015: Bale So Hard, a Farmhouse Ale brewed with HBC 438 and Mosaic hops, from David Hellen

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.

Michigan Guild

LANSING, Mich—Ten (10) brewery members of the Michigan Brewers Guild were awarded medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Competition, in Denver, Colorado—the largest commercial beer competition in the world and a symbol of brewing excellence, presented by the Brewers Association.

In all, 286 medals were presented in 96 unique beer categories covering 161 different beer styles (including all subcategories). Winners were chosen from 7,227 competition entries (nearly 9 percent more than the 6,647 entries in 2015 and surpassing all previous participation records) from 1,752 breweries hailing from 50 states, plus Washington, D.C.

The competition also saw its biggest-ever panel of judges, with 264 beer experts from 12 countries, including the U.S., and 170 competition volunteers.

Michigan Brewers Guild member received the following awards:

GOLD

  • Dirty Frank Stout — River’s Edge Brewing, Milford
    Category 89: Export Stout
  • Raucher – Wolverine State Brewing Co., Ann Arbor Category 34: Smoke Beer

SILVER

  • Expedition Stout – Bell’s Brewing Co., Galesburg
    Category 32: Aged Beer
  • reDANKulous – Backstage Series – Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids
    Category 63: American Imperial Red

BRONZE

  •  Angelina – Brewery Vivant, Grand Rapids
    Category 30: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer
  • Kusterer Original Weissbier – Cedar Springs Brewing Co, Cedar Springs
    Category 75: German-Style Wheat Ale
  • Broadway Light – Detroit Brewing Company, Detroit
    Category 38: American Style Cream Ale
  • Bangin The Mash – Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Portage
    Category 88: Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout
  • Good Mooed Milk Stout – Railtown Brewing Co, Dutton
    Category 91: Sweet Stout or Cream Stout
  • Live Wire – Roak Brewing, Royal Oak
    Category 55: English IPA

 

The Great American Beer Festival invites industry professionals from around the world to sit together in small groups and, without knowing the brand name, taste beers in each specified style category. The ultimate goal of the judging panel is to identify the three beers that best represent each beer-style category as described and adopted by the GABF.

Five different three-hour judging sessions take place over the three-day period during the week of the festival, with judges assigned to evaluate beers in their specific area of expertise. Breweries are awarded points, which are tabulated to arrive at the top three place medals in each category. The judging panel awards gold, silver or bronze medals that are recognized around the world as symbols of brewing excellence. These awards are among the most coveted in the industry and heralded by the winning brewers in their national advertising. Medal distinctions are as follows:

  • GOLD: A world-class beer that accurately exemplifies the specified style, displaying the proper balance of taste, aroma and appearance.
  • SILVER: An excellent beer that may vary slightly from style parameters while maintaining close adherence to the style and displaying excellent taste, aroma and appearance.
  • BRONZE: A fine example of the style that may vary slightly from style parameters and/or have minor deviations in taste, aroma or appearance.

Now in its 35th year, the Great American Beer Festival is the granddaddy of all U.S. beer festivals, offering the largest collection of U.S. beer ever assembled. Sponsored by The Brewers Association, the festival features more than 3,800 different beers from 780 breweries throughout the country. More than 60,000 attendees and 3,600 volunteers gathered at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver for the 3-day event.

Michigan’s brewing industry continues to grow in the total volume of beer produced and sold, as well as in the number of breweries. Michigan currently ranks #5 in the nation in terms of the total number of breweries and the Guild proudly represents its highest number of members at 210 (and continually growing)—thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” Michigan’s breweries are located in every area of the state, operating as community-focused small businesses that collectively employ more than 7,000 individuals and pay more than $144 million in wages. The overall impact of the craft beer industry in Michigan totals more than $608 million.

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.

Puerto Rico

Michigan beer lovers vacationing in Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico, can get their fix by visiting a former Michigander’s craft beer haven, La Taberna Lúpulo. Situated between two famous forts in the heart of the colonial section of the city, this oasis serves Founders and Bell’s goodness to local residents as well as tourists looking for refreshment. The building has an inviting open air atmosphere that allows for an occasional visit from one of the city’s many friendly wandering cats while you enjoy your beverage and the island breezes.

Puerto Rico

Getting there is easy, it’s accessible by foot from many sightseeing origins and destinations including the cruise ship port on the southern shore. If your timing is right, you may be able to save a few steps by catching one of the free local trolleys that circle the perimeter of the neighborhood and stops nearby.

La Taberna is partly owned by General Manager Milton Soto, who was born and raised in Royal Oak, Michigan and is now living in Puerto Rico.

“I came down to study and just stayed. Fell in love with Puerto Rico. Never thought in a million years I would be here almost twelve years later,” he said. “I think my friends thought I was insane. My dad is Puerto Rican and my mother is Cuban but I came on my own and figured it out on my own. Now everybody wants to move down here,” he said. Visit his part of paradise and you’ll begin to understand why.

Soto has been working diligently to develop the seven year old bar into a craft beer destination. They’ve carried Michigan brews for over five of those years. He says he has partially convinced brewery representatives to get on board with his ideas by escorting them around the main island and encouraging them to feel the pulse of the vibrant territory. There is much to love about the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s varied topography of beaches, mountains, dry desert-like areas, and rainforests. Soto speaks highly of time spent showing folks from Founders around his adopted home. “Jeremy’s a hoot. We had a good time in the rainforest!” Soto said of Jeremy Kosmicki, Head Brewer at Founders, who visited to check out the scene. It paid off for both companies.

During this writer’s visit in December a good chunk of the Bartender Favorites board had Founders listed. “We don’t force anybody to like Founders, those bartender favorites are literally what they like — and people love Founders,” Soto said, accounting for the brewery’s presence on eleven of the fifty taps. “Our local brews are good but they’re still up and coming, they’re still starting,” he said. “Here in Puerto Rico the craft beer market is really only 6 or 7 years old. We were the ones that started this movement,” he added.

Puerto Rico

Of the many bars and restaurants competing for customer attention, La Taberna was “the first one to have a tap system in Puerto Rico, and we started as a small, hole in the wall bar”, Soto claims. It progressed rapidly to its current popular status and larger space. “People love good beer, and we get so many great people coming through here all the time.” Puerto Rico is “a small place but we know how to drink, we definitely know how to drink!” he laughed.

Puerto Rico“The Puerto Rican palate, in the last six years, has gone through an extreme array of changes. Traditionally we were used to pilsner lager type beers, going into more amber, pale ales, wheat beers then IPAs, then to the point where you have people drinking stouts in the middle of summer like it’s going out of business. It’s like ‘wow it’s kind of warm for that’ but they love it here. A lot of Puerto Ricans grew up with this drink called Malta which is a malt beverage and it almost tastes like a stout but it’s non-alcoholic,” Soto said. Malta is brewed with barley, hops, and water and resembles beer that hasn’t been fermented. Kids take it to school in their lunches and it is widely enjoyed in social gatherings. Soto thinks this could be a contributing factor to the immense popularity of Bell’s Kalamazoo and Expedition stouts and Founders Imperial Stout and Porter in the bar in spite of the tropical temperatures.

IPAs are also appreciated there, cans of Founders Centennial and All Day IPA are sold as fast they can be stocked. On tap you might find such gems as Devil Dancer when it’s in season. “Because we’re the main craft beer bar in Puerto Rico we get all the special releases allocated to us,” Soto said, including Bell’s Hopslam when it hit distribution recently.

The list of Michigan breweries Soto dreams he’ll eventually have on tap in the future is topped by Witch’s Hat, not only because he considers them one of the up and coming Michigan breweries to watch, but also due to his friendship with the company’s founders and owners Ryan and Erin Cottingim. “I moved out to South Lyon right after high school and that’s when I met both of them,” he said. “They’ve always been fucking amazing people and that’s what makes amazing beer,” he added.

“I think New Holland would be a contender. Shorts would be awesome, I would cry if I could get them,” Soto said frankly. Jolly Pumpkin previously had a presence in Puerto Rico some time ago but has since exited the market. Soto believes they may have a better reception now that consumers have opened their minds a little more to the idea of sour beer. “Every time I go home I’m in Ann Arbor drinking Jolly Pumpkin, I’d love to see it come back,” he said.

“Michigan is super important down here. We have a lot of people from the midwest that live here,” he added. Soto sees similarities in the cultural attitudes of midwestern mainland USA and the island territory, especially the willingness of people to go out of their way to be helpful and pleasant. The team at La Taberna Lúpulo takes care to exemplify those values. Perhaps our mutual love of Michigan beer has something to do with that joviality. Go visit them and experience it for yourself. Tell them MittenBrew.com sent you.

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