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Details for 2019 Bell’s Homebrew Competition now available; 2018 winner to be tapped Aug. 25

Are your homebrew skills enough to get your beer served alongside Two Hearted, our Amber Ale, Oberon and others? Here’s your chance to prove it.

The 10th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition Kick-off and Expo will be held this year on Sept. 14 at our Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.

The homebrewer who takes first place will get to brew their recipe at our original brewery to then go on tap at the adjacent Café. The first place winner will also attend the 2020 Great American Beer Festival (Sept. 24-26) in Denver, Colorado as our guest.

“We’ve seen some incredible skill over the past decade of this competition and we will continue to proudly support the community that helped start all of this so many years ago. It was homebrewing that got us started and its homebrewers who continue to honor us today,” said Larry Bell, Founder and President of Bell’s Brewery.

Members of the American Homebrews Association voted Two Hearted and Bell’s Brewery the Best Beer in America and Best Brewery respectively for the past three years.

The Bell’s General Store has been supporting the homebrewing community since 1983 – offering advice, homebrew ingredients and kits (a variety of clone recipes of some of Bell’s most popular beers are available to purchase). Bell’s homebrew connection predates the brewery which opened in 1985.

Earlier this year, Bell’s began offering its signature house ale yeast directly so homebrewers could brew with it in their own way.

Additional contest & Expo details

As in previous years, there is no cost to enter the competition and the only requirement is that you use Bell’s wort, which will be available for free at the kick-off while supplies last. New this year: sign up for a specialty homebrew tour and be one of the first to receive wort. Registration for the tour will open on August 14th at 9 a.m. online at Limited spots are available.

Additional sign-up times for wort pick up will begin at 11 a.m. In past years, more than 200 homebrewers have been able to receive wort.

This year’s Expo will run from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and will feature local homebrew clubs, local vendors, interactive demos, as well as representatives from the American Homebrewers Association.

Competition entries (four 12 oz. bottles) are due to the Bell’s General Store by 7 p.m., Sunday, October 27.

The winner of the competition will team up with a Bell’s brewer for the 2020 Pro-Am Competition and attend both the awards ceremony and members’ only session at GABF.

Bell’s will cover the cost of airfare to Denver and back (must be within the continental U.S.) and provide lodging for two nights.

2018 winner tapping

The 2018 winning recipe, from Matt MacQuillan (Heather’s Request, an Apricot IPA) will be tapped for the first time at 2 p.m. on Aug. 25 at the Café. All are welcome and encouraged to stop by the Café and help celebrate this incredible accomplishment.

Previous winners are –

2017: Damson Plum Crisp, Saison brewed with damson plums and toasted sugar from Steve Vroegop.

2016: Freedom of Peach, hoppy Saison brewed with peaches, from Evan Monroe.

2015: Bale So Hard, a Farmhouse Ale brewed with HBC 438 and Mosaic hops from David Hellen.

2014: Coffee Mustache, a California Common style beer brewed with coffee from Matt VanNatter.

2013: Proud Mitten, a dry hopped IPA/Pale Ale made with Centennial, Citra and Simcoe hops from David


2012:Manden Med Leen, a black IPA brewed with Belgian yeast from Nick Rodammer.

2011: A Bit of Heat, brewed with paradise seeds, rose hips and habaneros, from Geoff Groff.

2010: Oscar’s Folly, a collaborative IPA from Jarrett Cupp, Bailey Cupp and Paul Gentz.

For more information and for updates, keep an eye here on our Bell’s website or join us on social media - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,

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