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oberon

COMSTOCK, Mich. – Bell’s Brewery signature summer beer, Oberon Ale, will get a new, temporary look to close out the summer.

Inspired by the 2019 Oberon mini-keg design, limited edition Oberon packaging has started shipping from the brewery. This refreshed look will be reflected across all Oberon packaging: 16 oz. cans (4-packs), 12 oz. cans (6-packs and 12-packs) and 12 oz. bottles (6-packs and 12-packs).

“This is a fun way to celebrate the different parts of the summer season… rest assured, it’s the same beer you’ve grown to know and love,” said Larry Bell, founder and president of Bell’s Brewery.

Oberon is available seasonally beginning in late March through August (Arizona and Florida are year-round distribution states).

 

oberon

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, malt, hops and yeast.

This same beautiful imagery has also inspired some brand-new Bell’s merchandise that can be purchased online and in person from the Bell’s General Store.

For more information about where to enjoy those last few months of summer, check out Oberon cooking recipes, learn more about the history of the beer and more, visit 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 41 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

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. 

 

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.

 

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.

 

FERNDALE — It’s 12:01 a.m. and the Emperor of Oberon has been named, crowned and caped thanks to a lucky raffle draw. Most importantly, he has also been handed the first official glass of the infamous Bell’s Brewery craft beverage. To the eager crowd, Oberon means no more winter, and with that first sip, bar patrons collectively let out blissful sighs of last year’s spring and summer nostalgia.

One-Eyed Betty’s played host to this happy event, with customers and staff excited for a special Sunday release. Sure, most everyone in the room had to be up early this coming Monday for work, but everyone seemed content, frosty glass in hand.

Erika Vitkin, a Bell’s Brewery Field Representative for Southeast Michigan, distributed free swag and good cheer in honor of the event.

“Oberon is an annual staple on the Michigan timeline of beer releases,” she says. “It reminds everyone of something different — and for me — it’s hanging out on my porch back in college, and also, it’s just home.”

So while March weather in Michigan continues to play hot-and-cold with its residents, the craft industry has officially marked the start of spring. Oberon is here!

5.8% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Cloudy gold with a small head.
Aroma: Wheat with some citrus.
Taste: Orange, wheat and malt.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

Bell’s staple summer brew — Oberon — was recently tapped and is just as enjoyable as I remember. This smooth, easy-drinking brew seems to have improved from last year, with more flavor and balance than in the past. While Oberon is a great entry beer for a newbie to the craft beer scene, it continues to please even the most seasoned beer drinkers across the country.

5.8% ABV, Draft
Appearance: Cloudy gold with a small head.
Aroma: Wheat with some citrus.
Taste: Orange, wheat and malt.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.
Bell’s staple summer brew — Oberon — was recently tapped and is just as enjoyable as I remember. This smooth, easy-drinking brew seems to have improved from last year, with more flavor and balance than in the past. While Oberon is a great entry beer for a newbie to the craft beer scene, it continues to please even the most seasoned beer drinkers across the country.

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