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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.

Michigan’s own Madonna once sang that “some boys kiss me, some boys hug me, I think they’re okay…” She went on to divulge that Mr. Right was always that man with the cold hard cash. Money is great, but I want to tweak those lyrics a little to say that the man with the beer is (usually) Mr. Right. And he is even more likely to be the right one if he comes to you on Valentine’s Day bearing beer and candy. To help out those wannabe Mr. and Ms. Rights, I offer the following suggestions for Valentine’s gifts.

Life is like a box of chocolates…

Ah, those lovely heart shaped boxes full of chocolate goodies! Unless you cheat and get the Whitman’s Samplers, you are in for a lovely surprise with each chocolate that you pick. Here are some of my personal favorite pieces that can be paired with a delicious Michigan beer!

Vanilla in the middle: Whenever my dad would get my mom a box of candy, I would always insist on getting the ones with the vanilla cream in the center. This often meant that I would bite into or at least poke a few pieces before finding what I wanted. Ah, youth! Nowadays, I would still really love that vanilla cream interior, but I would pair it with Saugatuck Brewing Companys’s Neapolitan Stout. You could also use this beer if you accidentally grab the strawberry cream interior, as well. The beer is quite versatile.

Caramel: I’ve always had a problem with caramel — specifically, it sticks to my teeth and will not come off unless I pry it off with a chisel. Fortunately, I can use Odd Side Ales Granny’s Apple Pie to wash it down with! The apple flavor in this beer is not overpowering, and just tart enough to balance the caramel’s sugar.

Toffee crunch: The long, flat candies in the box tend to be the toffee crunch ones. I love any food that makes noise, so I usually go for these after I find my vanilla ones. A good winter warmer would balance out that sugary crunch — Arbor Brewing Company’s Jackhammer Old Ale would complement the taste of toffee perfectly.

Chocolate in the middle: Every once in a while, you will grab what I call the “chocolate chocolate” piece. You know, that one with the pure chocolate inside and out? If that happens, just go whole hog and grab a Detroit Beer Company’s Sanders Chocolate Stout. It is made with Sanders chocolate and what better way to honor the cocoa bean?

Raspberry in the middle: I mentioned above that I would often get to my mom’s chocolate box first. She was okay with this, so long as I left the raspberry creams for her. Raspberry was and is my mom’s favorite flavor, and I was a nice enough kid to share her own chocolates with her! Given the sweetness and sometimes overpowering taste of raspberry, I would suggest pairing these candies with the best chocolate beer out there, Atwater Brewery’s Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale. The beer has the pure taste of chocolate, but isn’t overly sweet and doesn’t have any coffee or oatmeal undertones.

Chocolate covered cherries: How cool would it be to pair with these gooey, fun candies than a beer actually made with cherries? Fortunately, we have just such a beer that is made right here in Michigan: North Peak’s Archangel! This nicely hopped, well balanced beer will wash down the tasty chocolate.

Other Valentine’s Day treats

Marketers love dying things red, white and pink and calling them Valentine’s Day treats. I have absolutely no problem with this, and to celebrate that creativity, I suggest the following beers be paired with these fun Valentine’s Day treats.

M&Ms Dark Chocolate with New Holland Brewing’s Dragon’s Milk with Raspberries: This creamy stout with its touch of raspberries makes for a nice combination with M&M’s Dark Chocolate (or any dark chocolate, for that matter).

Reese’s Peanut Butter Hearts with Tri City Brewing Company’s Giant Slayer: The strong peanut butter taste will need an equally strong beer, and there are few better than this imperial stout from Tri City Brewing.

Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses with Dark Horse Brewing Company’s Tres Blueberry: It’s a pity that chocolate covered blueberries aren’t more of a thing, because the two tastes really taste great together. Until the candies become more common, make your own with the classic Kisses paired with a tasty blueberry beer.

Conversation Hearts (Kiss me! Love me! Text me!) with a lager from Wolverine State Brewing Company: Nobody does lagers better than this Ann Arbor based brewery, and a nice, crispy lager will balance out the sugary fun of these chatty hearts.

Red Hots and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale: Traditionally, IPAs have been paired with hot foods. Thus, I think that the spiciest of candies will pair nicely with one of Michigan’s finest IPAs. (In a perfect world, there would be another batch of Red Hot beer brewed at the Arbor Microbrewery!)

Peeps with Jolly Pumpkin’s La Roja: Peeps aren’t just for Easter anymore, and thank goodness for that! If you are going to ingest these gelatinous globs of sugar, just go for it! Balls to the wall! Eat the sugar, drink the sour and let the tastes mingle in your mouth.

These 12 beer and candy pairings should win your way into anyone’s heart. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Style: Specialty stout
ABV: 6.1%
Glassware: Snifter

Aroma: Slightly boozy, with rich caramel sweetness and a pleasant fresh grain character. Subtle dark fruits are highlighted on the tail end of the aroma. Instantly, the beer is outwardly complex.

Appearance: Dark, with a nice light brown head. The head pours thick at first, and dwindles down to a few wispy patterns across the top of the beer. My snifter had a spotty lacing down the side of the glass.

Taste: Fairly roast forward with some good cocoa and rich dessert-like sweetness. The beer is vaguely reminiscent of chocolate cake, in a way that is pleasant and not overbearing. All these flavors become more vibrant as the beer warms up, and the roast character seems to build on itself through the duration of the pour.

Mouthfeel: Slightly sticky, but certainily not unpleasant. The carbonation level is moderately still, which works nicely to support the richness and provide a perceived sweetness on top to of the sweetness that is physically there.

Aftertaste: There is a lingering sweetness and roast character that feels a little bit like the finish on a nice, foamy latte.

Overall: The Special Double Cream Stout is quite a refreshing beer, not in the sense of taste, but rather in its concept. You can think of it like a session imperial stout — at a glance, it’s big, rich, roasty and can easily be mistaken for a hearty stout. However, at 6.1% ABV, you can move on with your evening, just as if you had drank something a littler easier on the liver.

This makes for a pretty fantastic fall seasonal — it delivers all the nice “warming” characteristics of a big stout, but you’ll still be able to drive home at the end of the evening.

Although this beer isn’t quite a “session” beer, I still may just go ahead and group it in because it certainly uses a lot of ideas that brewers draw on when designing a session ale. The trick is to create the illusion of a beer with a much fuller body than what is physically present, with the primary goal being a dramatically lowered ABV. If all we wanted was more beer and less drunk, we could all grab a tall-boy of our favorite domestic trash-lager at 3.8% ABV, but there’s a reason we don’t.

Many beer drinkers of today want the same thing, no matter the beer style — fuller flavor and deeper complexity. The session ale allows us to have more of those beers without making an ass of ourselves (as early in the evening). I believe I can speak for many of us when I say that this is a rather important quality in the beers that we choose!

Style: Specialty stout
ABV: 6.1%
Glassware: Snifter
Aroma: Slightly boozy, with rich caramel sweetness and a pleasant fresh grain character. Subtle dark fruits are highlighted on the tail end of the aroma. Instantly, the beer is outwardly complex.
Appearance: Dark, with a nice light brown head. The head pours thick at first, and dwindles down to a few wispy patterns across the top of the beer. My snifter had a spotty lacing down the side of the glass.
Taste: Fairly roast forward with some good cocoa and rich dessert-like sweetness. The beer is vaguely reminiscent of chocolate cake, in a way that is pleasant and not overbearing. All these flavors become more vibrant as the beer warms up, and the roast character seems to build on itself through the duration of the pour.
Mouthfeel: Slightly sticky, but certainily not unpleasant. The carbonation level is moderately still, which works nicely to support the richness and provide a perceived sweetness on top to of the sweetness that is physically there.
Aftertaste: There is a lingering sweetness and roast character that feels a little bit like the finish on a nice, foamy latte.
Overall: The Special Double Cream Stout is quite a refreshing beer, not in the sense of taste, but rather in its concept. You can think of it like a session imperial stout — at a glance, it’s big, rich, roasty and can easily be mistaken for a hearty stout. However, at 6.1% ABV, you can move on with your evening, just as if you had drank something a littler easier on the liver.
This makes for a pretty fantastic fall seasonal — it delivers all the nice “warming” characteristics of a big stout, but you’ll still be able to drive home at the end of the evening.
Although this beer isn’t quite a “session” beer, I still may just go ahead and group it in because it certainly uses a lot of ideas that brewers draw on when designing a session ale. The trick is to create the illusion of a beer with a much fuller body than what is physically present, with the primary goal being a dramatically lowered ABV. If all we wanted was more beer and less drunk, we could all grab a tall-boy of our favorite domestic trash-lager at 3.8% ABV, but there’s a reason we don’t.
Many beer drinkers of today want the same thing, no matter the beer style — fuller flavor and deeper complexity. The session ale allows us to have more of those beers without making an ass of ourselves (as early in the evening). I believe I can speak for many of us when I say that this is a rather important quality in the beers that we choose!

Beer, burgers and B-Dubs were on the menu at the Royal Oak Farmers Market on Saturday during the fourth annual BRU Fest, a benefit for the Children’s Leukemia Foundation (CLF) of Michigan.

Bell’s Brewery, the exclusive beer sponsor of the event, had more than 20 craft beers on tap for attendees to enjoy while they noshed on burgers and wings from Bagger Dave’s Legendary Burger Tavern and Buffalo Wild Wings.

“Bell’s has been a partner in the event, along with Buffalo Wild Wings and Bagger Dave’s Burger Tavern, since the very beginning,” said Jackie McIntosh, director of development for the CLF. “We are so grateful that these fantastic organizations continue to provide their time and product to support our events. Everyone is so professional and amazing to work with. When it comes to event time, we all just click. It’s a really fun event to put together.”

Admission to BRU Fest included 10 tokens for beer samples and four tickets for food. Visitors were encouraged to try beer and food pairings, with suggestions listed on large color-coded menus on display at the venue. A few recommendations: The Chillin’ Cherry Burger — a turkey burger with smoked Gouda, peppers, onions and a cherry stout chili sauce — paired with an Oberon or Two Hearted Ale, and the Ravin’ Radish Burger — a prime rib burger patty with sautéed mushrooms, green pepper and a Kalamazoo Stout horseradish sauce — paired with an Amber Ale or Third Coast Beer.

Other Bell’s beer on tap for BRU Fest included Oarsman Ale, Quinannan Falls Special Lager, Midwestern Pale Ale, Double Cream Stout, Expedition Stout, Bourbon Barrel Aged Kalamazoo Stout, Berry Ale, Sweet Potato Stout, Cherry Stout, Mercurial Belgian Style Ale and Wheat Love Ale.

In addition, guests enjoyed live entertainment by The Hype Syndicate and even had a chance to test their skills at the first-ever BRU Pong tournament. For an additional $5, teams of two could enter the tournament and represent a CLF patient family, with proceeds benefiting The Walk, an upcoming fundraiser for the foundation.

“An event doesn’t have to be black-tie to make an impact,” said Bill Seklar, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Royal Oak has been a perfect home for this event that raises awareness and funds for our patients and families based in Michigan affected by leukemia, lymphoma and other blood-related diseases.”

McIntosh added that she’s thrilled with the outcome of this year’s BRU Fest.

“While the final numbers are still being tallied, we thought it was a great turnout and a fun atmosphere, and the feedback we are getting indicates that both attendees and volunteers really enjoyed being a part of the event,” she said.

The CLF also held a BRU Grand Rapids in 2013 in conjunction with the opening of its new regional office in the Grand Rapids area. According to McIntosh, a date for BRU Grand Rapids has not been set for this year, but the organization is interested in doing it again.