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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.

 

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery, Michigan’s oldest and largest brewery, celebrates its 32nd anniversary this month.

As part of the celebration, Bell’s kicked-off its 8th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition on Sept. 9 at Bell’s Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.

“Three decades ago, I would have never imagined where we would be as a company, as a brewery, as an industry,” Larry Bell, President of Bell’s Brewery said.

“A lot has changed over the years. This year marks quite a few other milestones all over the state and we raise a glass to all of our fellow craft brewers celebrating as well,” he added.

bells brewery

Larry Bell founded Bell’s Brewery in 1983 and sold his first beer in 1985. The company he started is now 100% family-owned and also the largest independent craft brewery in the state of Michigan. Larry’s daughter, Laura Bell, was promoted to the role of CEO in February.

“It’s an incredible honor to be a part of the next generation,” Bell’s CEO Laura Bell said.

“As we look to what comes next, it’s very important to remember our roots and celebrate the fans and the homebrew community that helped us get to where we are today, she added.

Even before Larry Bell sold his first commercial beer, he started as a homebrewer and then founded a homebrew supply shop, a precursor to the brewery Bell’s is today. Production reached 135 barrels in 1986, all brewed and bottled by 10 employees.

Today, Bell’s employs more than 540 people, a majority in the state of Michigan, and shipped 421,000 barrels in 2016.

As the seventh largest craft brewery in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, its impact can be seen throughout the craft beer industry in Michigan, in the Midwest and beyond. Bell’s was the first brewery to sell beer by the glass in the state and has inspired countless other breweries, homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts.

Bell's

Free wort for the Bell’s Homebrew Competition was given away to almost 200 homebrewers. Among the first place prizes for that competition, the winner will get to brew their recipe at Bell’s original Kalamazoo brewery to then to go on tap at the adjacent Café alongside beers like Oberon and Two Hearted, a beer that was recently named #1 beer in America by the readers of Zymurgy Magazine.

Coming up later this month is a three-day Octoberfest Celebration on Sept. 22-24, also at Bell’s Eccentric Café. German cuisine, live music and of course, Bell’s Octoberfest Beer are all part of the festivities. Held in the Bell’s Beer Garden, this is a free, all-ages event.

Bell’s fans are also encouraged to see where their favorite beers are born. Free brewery tours of Bell’s original Kalamazoo brewery are offered on weekends. Tours of its nearby Comstock Brewery are offered throughout the week. Tours can be booked at bellsbeer.com/tours.

 

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery, Michigan’s oldest and largest brewery, celebrates its 32nd anniversary this month.
As part of the celebration, Bell’s kicked-off its 8th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition on Sept. 9 at Bell’s Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.
“Three decades ago, I would have never imagined where we would be as a company, as a brewery, as an industry,” Larry Bell, President of Bell’s Brewery said.
“A lot has changed over the years. This year marks quite a few other milestones all over the state and we raise a glass to all of our fellow craft brewers celebrating as well,” he added.
bells brewery
Larry Bell founded Bell’s Brewery in 1983 and sold his first beer in 1985. The company he started is now 100% family-owned and also the largest independent craft brewery in the state of Michigan. Larry’s daughter, Laura Bell, was promoted to the role of CEO in February.
“It’s an incredible honor to be a part of the next generation,” Bell’s CEO Laura Bell said.
“As we look to what comes next, it’s very important to remember our roots and celebrate the fans and the homebrew community that helped us get to where we are today, she added.
Even before Larry Bell sold his first commercial beer, he started as a homebrewer and then founded a homebrew supply shop, a precursor to the brewery Bell’s is today. Production reached 135 barrels in 1986, all brewed and bottled by 10 employees.
Today, Bell’s employs more than 540 people, a majority in the state of Michigan, and shipped 421,000 barrels in 2016.
As the seventh largest craft brewery in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, its impact can be seen throughout the craft beer industry in Michigan, in the Midwest and beyond. Bell’s was the first brewery to sell beer by the glass in the state and has inspired countless other breweries, homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts.
Bell's
Free wort for the Bell’s Homebrew Competition was given away to almost 200 homebrewers. Among the first place prizes for that competition, the winner will get to brew their recipe at Bell’s original Kalamazoo brewery to then to go on tap at the adjacent Café alongside beers like Oberon and Two Hearted, a beer that was recently named #1 beer in America by the readers of Zymurgy Magazine.
Coming up later this month is a three-day Octoberfest Celebration on Sept. 22-24, also at Bell’s Eccentric Café. German cuisine, live music and of course, Bell’s Octoberfest Beer are all part of the festivities. Held in the Bell’s Beer Garden, this is a free, all-ages event.
Bell’s fans are also encouraged to see where their favorite beers are born. Free brewery tours of Bell’s original Kalamazoo brewery are offered on weekends. Tours of its nearby Comstock Brewery are offered throughout the week. Tours can be booked at bellsbeer.com/tours.
 

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.

 

Upper Hand Brewery, a division of Bell’s Brewery, celebrated its grand opening today, just over a year after breaking ground in Escanaba.

The brewery features a 20-barrel brewing system capable of producing about 200,000 gallons of beer per year. Three beers — UPA (Upper Peninsula Ale), Escanaba Black Beer and Upper Hand Lager will be available outside of Escanaba on draft beginning this week. Bottles will be released beginning in December.

Both draft beer and bottles will only be available in the Upper Peninsula region.

“To be able to open a brewery in the U.P. fulfills a lifelong dream for me. I couldn’t be prouder to open the doors of this great facility here in Escanaba,” said Larry Bell, founder and president of Bell’s Brewery in Comstock.

A public open house is planned for Dec. 6 from Noon to 5 p.m. at the brewery.

This is our final preview of David Bardallis‘ upcoming book, “Ann Arbor Beer: A Hoppy History of Tree Town Brewing.” Below is an excerpt from the book, slated to be released Aug. 27. To pre-order David’s book, please visit Amazon.com.

Every end contains within it the seeds of a new beginning, as the old saying goes. One Monday morning, a twenty-four-year-old sporting a beard and a backpack popped into the Real Ale Company and woke Ted Badgerow where he slept on the floor. They sat on an old sofa together and smoked while the young man asked questions about beer and brewing for a few hours before leaving to hitchhike his way back to Kalamazoo. Three years later, Larry Bell took what he learned from Badgerow (as well as some equipment he bought from the failed Real Ale Company) and founded the brewery that today bears his name.

“I was homebrewing a lot, watching what they were doing, buying beer from them, definitely interested in what they had going on,” remembered Bell. At the time, he was living at a group house on Washtenaw Avenue while he worked at various Ann Arbor restaurants and waited to start a job at a friend’s new jazz club, the Bird of Paradise, that was supposed to open soon.

“I didn’t have a car back then, but I sometimes borrowed my girlfriend’s to drive down to the Fink Brothers homebrew supply store in Dundee,” remembered Bell. “The Bird of Paradise ended up not opening until a few years later, and I had better opportunities in Kalamazoo, so I moved back.”

By the time he started the then Kalamazoo Brewing Company, Bell had acquired Badgerow’s thirty-gallon soup kettle. “I gave Ted $100 for it,” he said. “We used it only as a mash tun in our three-vessel, one-barrel system because there were no controls on it.”

Bell’s has, of course, grown a wee bit from its initial production of 135 barrels. It’s now the seventh-largest craft brewery (fourteenth largest overall) by sales volume in the country, producing more than 200,000 barrels annually and distributing such wildly popular beers as Oberon and Two- Hearted ales in eighteen states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

COMSTOCK — Bell’s Brewery, the anchor of the Michigan microbrews.

The brewery is quite possibly the reason the industry has exploded the past 15 years in Michigan and only set to grow even more in the near future.

Its staple brews of Oberon and Two Hearted have gone on to mainstream success. At several restaurants, Oberon stands alone and is known for the quality summer beverage it provides.

Larry Bell started brewing in a tiny kettle he received as a gift from his mother, providing friends the brews he concocted. Soon the demand grew to where he had to open up to the public. Since that day in 1985, Bell’s has grown big and strong, the granddaddy of “The Great Beer State.” The company is expected to brew more than 220,000 barrels this year, up from the 30,000 barrels at the downtown brewery in 2002. In 1985, he brewed just 135 barrels. The brewery has grown by 20 percent over the last few years.

Recently, The MittenBrew crew headed down to Kalamazoo — and Comstock — Mich., for an exclusive Laura Bell-guided tour of the newest 200 barrel production compound, completed in May, and the rest of Bells expansive brewing facility.

The newest addition — which boosts the company’s capacity to 800,000 barrels a year — is a gorgeous mix of wood and stainless steel. A set of stairs take you up to the “museum” that details the company’s history and offers a unique view of the upper parts of the new brewing tanks.

Also part of the expansion was a new grain system that allows quicker milling of grains and helps keep the brewery clean in a sealed room — Laura Bell stated it “cuts down on dust” that floats around the brewery.

The new system will be used primarily for the company’s large scale, popular beer such as Oberon and Two Hearted.

As we were moving on to the other parts of the facility, Laura told us how environmentally friendly the company is, including a 93 percent landfill diversion rate, and recently hired on a full-time sustainability expert. Even the steam from the brewing process is reused for heat.

It’s a three pronged approach, Laura explained, saying its good for environmental, social and economic reasons.

We explored the sensory evaluation room, where all the beers are tested for quality.

“We want consistency,” Laura said. “We want beer that tastes just as good in every bottle.”

The facility before the newest addition is a 50 system that can brew four to five beers at a time. It’s noticeably different than the newer area — it’s clearly meant to be just a production facility.

The whole facility is nicely lit, using a combination of light collecting skylights and sensors that keep the areas lighted like the outdoors and not with harsh fluorescents.

Laura said the bottling portion might soon go to a 24-7 operation and the packaging department just got a robot, which won’t be named, because once it is, it “has an identity.”

The nice part about the robot is it’s job neutral — it didn’t replace anyones job. And Bell’s employs more than 180 people, including 62 additions in the last year.

Quite possibly the most unique part of the tour was seeing the giant cyprus barrels from the old Stroh’s brewery. They were in the process of being put together, and Bell’s will brew in them soon, likely a basic lager. Stroh’s closed in 1985, just months after Larry Bell sold his first beer.

“We’re going to sell it in Michigan, as a piece of Michigan history,” Laura said.

 

The Original

The original Bells Eccentric Cafe also was recently renovated. And like the brewery, it’s also quite large.

Offering a full food and drink menu, the Eccentric Cafe features unique artwork, hand selected by Larry Bell himself. There’s a garden patio, a big lawn stage for music, two brewhouses, an indoor stage and the pub.

Both the pub and the indoor music venue have lofted seating areas that offer nice aerial views of the venues, and are encapsulated by a rustic, wood feeling that leaves a person feeling right at home in this great beer state.

__
Photography by Bryan Esler. Look for our video recap of our trip to Bell’s soon! 

COMSTOCK — Bell’s Brewery, the anchor of the Michigan microbrews.
The brewery is quite possibly the reason the industry has exploded the past 15 years in Michigan and only set to grow even more in the near future.
Its staple brews of Oberon and Two Hearted have gone on to mainstream success. At several restaurants, Oberon stands alone and is known for the quality summer beverage it provides.
Larry Bell started brewing in a tiny kettle he received as a gift from his mother, providing friends the brews he concocted. Soon the demand grew to where he had to open up to the public. Since that day in 1985, Bell’s has grown big and strong, the granddaddy of “The Great Beer State.” The company is expected to brew more than 220,000 barrels this year, up from the 30,000 barrels at the downtown brewery in 2002. In 1985, he brewed just 135 barrels. The brewery has grown by 20 percent over the last few years.
Recently, The MittenBrew crew headed down to Kalamazoo — and Comstock — Mich., for an exclusive Laura Bell-guided tour of the newest 200 barrel production compound, completed in May, and the rest of Bells expansive brewing facility.
The newest addition — which boosts the company’s capacity to 800,000 barrels a year — is a gorgeous mix of wood and stainless steel. A set of stairs take you up to the “museum” that details the company’s history and offers a unique view of the upper parts of the new brewing tanks.
Also part of the expansion was a new grain system that allows quicker milling of grains and helps keep the brewery clean in a sealed room — Laura Bell stated it “cuts down on dust” that floats around the brewery.
The new system will be used primarily for the company’s large scale, popular beer such as Oberon and Two Hearted.
As we were moving on to the other parts of the facility, Laura told us how environmentally friendly the company is, including a 93 percent landfill diversion rate, and recently hired on a full-time sustainability expert. Even the steam from the brewing process is reused for heat.
It’s a three pronged approach, Laura explained, saying its good for environmental, social and economic reasons.
We explored the sensory evaluation room, where all the beers are tested for quality.
“We want consistency,” Laura said. “We want beer that tastes just as good in every bottle.”
The facility before the newest addition is a 50 system that can brew four to five beers at a time. It’s noticeably different than the newer area — it’s clearly meant to be just a production facility.
The whole facility is nicely lit, using a combination of light collecting skylights and sensors that keep the areas lighted like the outdoors and not with harsh fluorescents.
Laura said the bottling portion might soon go to a 24-7 operation and the packaging department just got a robot, which won’t be named, because once it is, it “has an identity.”
The nice part about the robot is it’s job neutral — it didn’t replace anyones job. And Bell’s employs more than 180 people, including 62 additions in the last year.
Quite possibly the most unique part of the tour was seeing the giant cyprus barrels from the old Stroh’s brewery. They were in the process of being put together, and Bell’s will brew in them soon, likely a basic lager. Stroh’s closed in 1985, just months after Larry Bell sold his first beer.
“We’re going to sell it in Michigan, as a piece of Michigan history,” Laura said.
 
The Original
The original Bells Eccentric Cafe also was recently renovated. And like the brewery, it’s also quite large.
Offering a full food and drink menu, the Eccentric Cafe features unique artwork, hand selected by Larry Bell himself. There’s a garden patio, a big lawn stage for music, two brewhouses, an indoor stage and the pub.
Both the pub and the indoor music venue have lofted seating areas that offer nice aerial views of the venues, and are encapsulated by a rustic, wood feeling that leaves a person feeling right at home in this great beer state.
__
Photography by Bryan Esler. Look for our video recap of our trip to Bell’s soon!