HomeBeerA Go to to Bells Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan

A Go to to Bells Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan

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The wall of Bell's Brewer history inside its production brewery as tour guide Ray Bristol gives us a rundown of the brewery's rich history.
The wall of Bell’s Brewer historical past inside its manufacturing brewery as tour information Ray Bristol offers us a rundown of the brewery’s wealthy historical past.

With a wealthy historical past in brewing that dates again to 1985, Bell’s Brewery has made growth an essential initiative this 12 months. Over the previous few months Michigan’s oldest craft brewer has entered 5 extra states. This contains Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and Utah with the one remaining state that’s left is Hawaii.

We just lately visited the brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan to participate in Oberon Day, that simply so occurs to be a state vacation. Governor Whitmer made the proclamation on March 21, 2022, honoring Oberon Ale that celebrated its thirtieth anniversary one 12 months in the past. Going ahead, Oberon Day takes place the third Monday in March.

Bell’s Brewery started its brewing operations 38 years in the past in 1985 within the Western Michigan metropolis of Kalamazoo. Larry Bell based the corporate two years prior as a homebrew retailer, one thing that the brewery continues to function out of its Basic Retailer.

The original 15 gallon soup pot that Larry Bell first brewed his beers on hangs over an area inside the production brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
The unique 15 gallon soup pot that Larry Bell first brewed his beers on hangs over an space contained in the manufacturing brewery in Comstock, Michigan.

When Bell started brewing, he brewed his first beer, Amber Ale, on a 15-gallon soup kettle. In response to Ray Bristol, certainly one of our brewery tour guides, Bell produced 130 barrels of beer his first 12 months. Fairly the accomplishment for what was primarily a homebrew package!

He continued brewing on this method till he signed with a distributor in 1989 after which upgraded to a measly 2-barrel brewhouse. Then three years later the brewhouse was upgraded as soon as once more, this time to a way more environment friendly 15-barrel system.

This additionally occurred to be the identical 12 months when Oberon Ale debuted. However again in 1992 this Belgian impressed American Ale was initially generally known as SolSun. This identify lasted till 1996 when it was modified to Oberon Ale resulting from a trademark dispute from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, the makers of Sol.

Since its inception 31 years in the past, Oberon Ale has gone on to turn into a mirrored image of summer season in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. The beer is a seasonal launch, solely out there for six months from March by means of September, however accounts for 25% of the brewery’s annual gross sales. Sure, it’s a beer that brings a wide range of beer drinkers collectively.

The taplist at the 2023 Oberon Day at Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The taplist on the 2023 Oberon Day at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The beer is so standard that a few decade in the past, Bell’s Brewery determined to host Oberon Day at its Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This unofficial begin to spring brings many Oberon followers collectively for a day of festivities and to get the season’s first style of Oberon.

Now held on the third Monday in March, Oberon Day was proclaimed a Michigan vacation on March 21, 2022 by Governor Gretchen Whitmer. It’s not like all employer honors it however fairly a couple of Michiganders flock to Kalamazoo for the day. Final month’s Oberon Day noticed about 5,000 attendees courageous the cool mid-40 diploma climate for an out of doors and indoor pageant that includes the primary pours of Oberon in 2023.

“Oberon Day is for the brewery’s fan base,” exclaimed Kevin “Stutch” Stuchell, Bell’s Senior Brewer. “Oberon is a Belgian impressed American ale that makes use of spicy hops.” It’s just about the official summer season beer of Michigan!

Great Lakes Brass provided music throughout the morning during Oberon Day at Bell's Brewery.
Nice Lakes Brass offered music all through the morning throughout Oberon Day at Bell’s Brewery.

The 2023 version of Oberon Day started at 10:00am with the elevating of the Oberon Flag exterior the Eccentric Café. Main as much as the flag elevating, the Nice Lakes Brass carried out their New Orleans impressed music to the early revelers. From there, the primary draft of Oberon was served, every with an orange slice that was lower from certainly one of 7,000 oranges for the day!

These Oberon followers had been handled to eight particular one off variants of the favored American Wheat Ale. Along with the longstanding Oberon Ale, the faucets on the Eccentric Café had been additionally serving these Oberon’s – Creamsicle, Chipotle Lime, Watermelon Basil, Raspberry Hibiscus, Pineapple Jalapeno, Fruit Punch, Peach and Blood Orange.

We perused this checklist and loved that Pineapple Jalapeno, Blood Orange, Chipotle Lime and Creamsicle. The spiciness within the jalapeno and chipotle choices performed effectively with the wheat beer.

Fortuitously for the numerous Oberon followers that weren’t capable of go to the Eccentric Café for Oberon Day, Bell’s is ready to launch an Oberon Selection Pack within the coming months. This pack will characteristic the OG Oberon together with what is probably going Cherry Oberon and some different but to be named Oberon variants.

Pallets of Two Hearted cans at the Bell's Brewery.
Pallets of Two Hearted IPA cans on the Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.

However the beer that Bell’s is greatest identified for is Two Hearted IPA. It’s been so standard with members from the American Homebrewers Affiliation that it has been named the perfect beer in America. A lot in order that it took house the #1 rating 4 consecutive years from 2017 – 2020, the final 12 months Zymurgy printed these rankings.

Two Hearted was a beer that made its first look within the late Nineteen Eighties as a Pale Ale. By way of the years this beer had been tweaked and arrived because the IPA that we now know in 1997 as a winter seasonal. As soon as Bell’s commissioned its new 50-barrel brewhouse in 2003, Two Hearted IPA turned a year-round providing.

Throughout this launch of Two Hearted IPA as a year-round beer, Bell’s employed John Mallett in 2001 to assist get this new, a lot bigger brewhouse in close by Comstock on-line. Mallett, Bell’s longtime Brewmaster, just lately left Bell’s Brewery this previous February however made a reputation for himself throughout this 20+ 12 months profession on the brewery. A lot in order that in 2021 for his twentieth anniversary with the brewery, Bell’s established the John Mallett Brewing Scholarship.

Beneath Mallett’s steering, the brewery grew exponentially and was in want of a bigger brewhouse. Lower than a decade later, Bell’s expanded with a 200-barrel brewhouse that was fired up in 2012.

The manufacturing brewery now makes use of each the 50-barrel and 200-barrel brewhouses together with a 12-barrel pilot brewery along with a pub 15-barrel brewhouse at its Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.

With Mallett’s departure, Andy Farrell took over as Brewmaster. Farrell is a 23 12 months worker at Bell’s so the brewery is in very competent fingers as he has labored in all sides of the brewery.

With regards to constructing beer recipes Farrell seems to be to meals. “I discover numerous inspiration from the culinary world,” stated Farrell. “Being obsessed with meals and beverage helps quite a bit.”

Andy Ferrell, Bell's Head Brewmaster, giving a tour of the brewery at Bell's Eccentric Cafe.
Andy Ferrell, Bell’s Brewmaster, giving a tour of the pub brewery at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Transferring ahead, Bell’s is engaged on turning into a Licensed B Corp, one thing that its mother or father firm, New Belgium Brewing is a part of. In November 2021, New Belgium acquired Bell’s Brewery. Now each breweries fall below the Lion Little World Drinks, an Australian subsidiary of Japan-based Kirin.

For New Belgium to maintain its B Corp standing, its sister firm in Michigan have to be the identical. Bell’s might want to have this accomplished by finish of the 12 months for New Belgium to retain their certification.

Defending the setting is nothing new at Bell’s. “We depend on our agricultural merchandise,” stated Stuchell, throughout our brewery tour. “We’re stewards of the setting. A Waylon, MI farmer takes the brewery’s spent grain and we make the most of geothermal warmth right here on the Comstock brewery.”

With its dedication to the setting and native farmers, the staff at Bell’s Brewery is happy for what the long run holds. Now led by Carrie Yunker, Bell’s Brewery’s Govt Vice President, she is poised to proceed the brewery’s growth to all 50 states from when Larry Bell retired in 2021.

Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell's Brewery, leading a brewery tour at its brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell’s Brewery, main a brewery tour at its brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell's Brewery, pouring a classic Amber Ale at its brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell’s Brewery, pouring a basic Amber Ale at its brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell's Brewery, discussing these wooden fermenters that are originally from Stroh’s that have been donated to the Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell’s Brewery, discussing these picket fermenters which can be initially from the now shuttered Stroh’s Brewery which were donated to the Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
The brewhouse at Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
The brewhouse at Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell's Brewery, serves the group the new Hop Grandslam that was brewed on the 12-barrel Innovation Brewery that’s part of it facility in Comstock, Michigan.
Kevin Stuchell, Senior Brewer at Bell’s Brewery, serves the group the brand new Hop Grandslam that was brewed on the 12-barrel Innovation Brewery that’s a part of it facility in Comstock, Michigan.
The Green Top Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan was the first bar in the state to serve Oberon in 2023. It tapped the first kegs at midnight to a near capacity crowd.
The Inexperienced Prime Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan was the primary bar within the state to serve Oberon in 2023. It tapped the primary kegs at midnight to a close to capability crowd.
The Green Top Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan was the first bar in the state to serve Oberon in 2023. It tapped the first kegs at midnight to a near capacity crowd.
The Inexperienced Prime Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan was the primary bar within the state to serve Oberon in 2023. It tapped the primary kegs at midnight to a close to capability crowd.
Bell's Oberon Donuts from Sweetwaters Donut Mill were made for the 2023 festivities.
Bell’s Oberon Donuts from Sweetwaters Donut Mill had been made for the 2023 festivities.
The Oberon Day outdoor menu that was only a few of the offerings at this year's festivities at Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The Oberon Day out of doors menu that was just a few of the choices at this 12 months’s festivities at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Oberon fans turned out in full force at Bell's Brewery for Oberon Day on March 20, 2023.
Oberon followers turned out in full pressure at Bell’s Brewery for Oberon Day on March 20, 2023.
Over 5,000 patrons attended Oberon Day at Bell's Eccentric Cafe on March 20, 2023.
Over 5,000 patrons attended Oberon Day at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe on March 20, 2023.

Bell’s Brewery, a division of Lion Little World Beverage, an Australian subsidiary of Japan-based Kirin, offered journey, lodging, meals and beer for the reporting of this text.

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