I attended a wedding Saturday at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, MI. It’s Michigan’s oldest “craft” brewery. Rather than attempt to tell the “story” of Bell’s Brewery, I’m going to refer you to their very informative web site.
After learning that the wedding reception was offering an open bar? Well, I set out to try as many of their beers as I could (I had four over the course of three-plus hours). I’m not a “lightweight” in terms of alcohol tolerance, just to be clear…
My “focus” was on trying the Bell’s beers that I’d never had before. I’ve had their Oberon, Kalamazoo Stout, Two Hearted, Pool Time, Oarsman, Winter White, Hopslam, Amber, Best Brown, Larry’s Latest Flamingo Fruit Fight and others I can’t think of right now.
Beer #1 – “Wedding Ale” (spiced wheat ale)
From the web site:
“Originally created for the nuptials of one of our brewers, Wedding Ale is one of the rare Bell’s brands to use spices. A subtle blend of orange peel & coriander enhance the aromatic profile of this golden ale. Brewed with a combination of wheat and pale malts, Wedding Ale is fermented with our signature house ale yeast. A light touch of European hops rounds out the beer, while a generous addition of honey adds a dry complexity rather than sweetness.
My comments about Wedding Ale:
Beer #2 – “Sparkleberry” – (Belgian tripel with berries)
From the web site:
“Sparkleberry is an American interpretation of a Belgian Tripel brewed with raspberries.
Slightly tart, dry and spicy, it was originally brewed for release at Kalamazoo Pride in 2013, the same year it won a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival.
It has returned every year since drawing incredible praise at other Pride events, beer festivals and at our Pub.
Sparkleberry is a celebration of diversity and will debut in cans for wider distribution in June, 2018. Sparkle on.
My comments about Sparkleberry:
I absolutely LOVE a good fruit beer, so I wasted no time ordering this one! Reminded me a bit of Shorts Soft Parade, which is one of my favorite beers made in Michigan. I was far more “effervescent” than Shorts, but not any less – or more tasty. The 9 percent ABV weigh-in only helped to facilitate conversations with some folks I have’t seen since the last wedding (or funeral). Bonus that the beer also matched my dress (accessories are SO important, LOL).
As a side note? A couple of my female Facebook friends LOST THEIR SHIT when they saw a picture of this beer! Take note, Bell’s – DISTRIBUTE THIS ONE WIDELY!
Pretty close color match…right? Before we went into Bell’s for the wedding, we had coffee at Water Street Coffee, which is right across the street from Bell’s. We saw a Bell’s employee go in to the coffee shop to pick up coffee to bring back to Bell’s! I was just as impressed with the light roast coffee at Water Street as I was with every single beer I tried at Bell’s. Speaking of…I decided to “diversify” a bit with beer #3 (and pick one lighter in ABV, LOL)…
Beer #3 – “Official” (hazy IPA)
“Two of our favorite ingredients come together in the brewhouse; pungent American hops and delicious wheat malt. This Hazy IPA is double dry-hopped (a combination of Mosaic, Citra, Azacca, Amarillo and El Dorado hops) resulting in complex peach, stone fruit and tropical notes with a dry finish and balanced bitterness. A refined beer for those who love hops and for those who prefer wheat beers. Go ahead and make it Official.
Alcohol By Volume:
My comments about “Official:”
“Hazy” IPAs are SUPER trendy right now. They are the beers getting raved about the most on a local craft beer appreciation board I follow on Facebook. I actually tried another Hazy IPA not too long ago (M-43) and enjoyed it quite a bit (describing it as a “smooth criminal” in terms of its smooth delivery and high-ABV “punch.)” Bell’s take on the “Hazy” IPA was also quite tasty! As I explained to another beer drinker at the table (who said they usually avoided IPAs), “These new hazy IPAs tend to use a “fruity” blend of hops which kind of dampens the bitterness you normally expect with a hoppy beer quite a bit.” Or something to that effect! Also, is it just me, or does the logo look Detroit Tigers esque? If that was on purpose, I’ll buy it! Though I won’t necessarily buy any beers sold at Comerica Park (grumble price gouging grumble)! As for sipping on one of these while watching a baseball game, hells yeah! But now it was time to try another beer:
Beer #4 – Quinnanan Falls (dry-hopped lager)
From the web site:
“Literally born in a dream: Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s Brewery, dreamt that he was at the mystically hidden retreat of Quinannan Falls, somewhere in the boreal north.
Neither Quinannan Falls nor the beer actually existed outside his imagination, but he remembered enough about it to sketch a recipe and label, which was put into full form by Michigan artist Kathleen Kalinowski, the following morning.
The end result is a dry-hopped lager that possesses a crisp, dry bitterness you would expect from a German pilsner, but the use of highly aromatic Simcoe hops from the Pacific Northwest, evoke the fragrant pine forests that inspired this beer.
My comments about Quinnanan Falls:
By this time, I was having what would be my last beer at this wedding. I honestly don’t think I’d ever had an IPL (India pale lager) before. Slightly bitter, yet very drinkable. The peach pie I had for dessert will get nicely soaked up by this one!