Bell's News

Spotlight Series: These beers are designed by Bell's employees

Our Employee Spotlight Series features beers brewed by Bell's employees. Check back often to see what's new.

Our downtown Kalamazoo brewery is where we got our start. Though the batches may be smaller than what we brew for wider release at our Comstock Brewery, our original brewery is still very focused on innovation and bringing new beers to life. 

It’s actually quite fitting that the same location where Larry Bell started brewing and beers like Oberon, Two Hearted, Amber and others originated is still very much a part of where we go next. 

One of the many ways we utilize that location, affectionately referred to as B1 by those who work here, is through our Employee Spotlight Series. 

This series of beers are based on ideas sourced directly from our employees from all areas of the company. 

We have a lot of passion and creativity, so how do we choose from so many great ideas? 

Here’s a brief look at how all of this works:

  • This series is open to all Bell’s employees. 
  • Each submission is vetted by production and quality staff for feasibility (we do have to be careful  when bringing in new ingredients that could be potential allergens for example). 
  • Once a concept is vetted, it moves to a raffle. 
  • 12 names are randomly selected per calendar year. 
  • The beer is brewed and released on draft at our pub, the Eccentric Cafe and at our General Store adjacent to our original brewery about once a month. (Growlers and crowlers can be purchased to take home - while supplies last). 

We’ll detail all releases in this series here (and announce on our social channels) as they are ready, so come back often! Be sure to also check out our Celebration Series as well! 

January 2021

The first beer rolled out in this series is Mosaic Lager (5.6% ABV), created by Adam, who originally started as a member of our Door Staff and is now one of our Innovation Brewers. Adam modeled this lager after Lager of The Lakes and is brewed with 100% Mosaic hops. it is is crisp and crushable with a dank hop character.

February 2021

The second beer rolled out in our 2021 Employee Spotlight Series is a crisp, refreshing Kolsch (4.7% ABV), created by Nathan who currently works in our technical packaging department! When he started homebrewing, his dad also became interested which then turned into the two brewing this beer. Together, they call it "Put Me in Kolsch" because of the passion they both share for baseball.

march 2021

The third beer rolled out in our 2021 Employee Spotlight Series is a Black Currant Lavender Sour (8% ABV): Sour ale with dark berry flavors and a complex, floral finish. This recipe comes from Joey who currently works in our Packaging department! His inspiration behind this beer came from the first sour beer he ever tried. In his words, "my goal was to take the joy I experienced when trying my first sour beer and put it into a sour that made me feel that same joy and maybe even help people get into sours for the first time!"

April 2021

The fourth beer rolled out in our 2021 Employee Spotlight Series is a White Stout (6.5% ABV): Blonde Ale brewed with coffee, vanilla and cocoa nibs. This recipe comes from Adam who works in our Supply Chain department! Adam loves a good stout and wanted to create a beer that everyone could enjoy. White Stouts are rare and hard to find in his opinion and he is very excited to bring this beer to life right here at the pub! Traditionally, stouts are classified as dark beers but with a White Stout you will find a light bodied beer with a smooth vanilla taste and a hint of coca nibs at the end.

May 2021

The fifth beer rolled out in our 2021 Employee Spotlight Series is a Double IPA (9.3% ABV): Aromas and flavors of mango, overripe peach, and citrus rind. This recipe comes from CJ who works in our Point of Sale department! CJ decided to name this beer "Social Distance IPA" because this recipe was developed back in last March when the pandemic lock downs began. The idea for this beer was to make an IPA so intensely aromatic that your friends could smell it... from 6ft away! It's an IPA that's both safety and socially conscious!

June 2021

The sixth release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight Series is a Dry Hopped Cider (7.7% ABV) from Kate, a member of our Sustainability team. Something that sets this apart from other releases is that this cider is gluten-free! Kate has Celiac Disease and cannot drink beer. She loves the smell of hops and the cider we brew at Bell's. The inspiration behind this cider came from the desire to apply our hops expertise to our cider. This employee spotlight was dry hopped with Centennial and Simcoe hops (think Two Hearted and Hopslam) and Kate is beyond excited to share with others the magic that can happen when you combine a dry cider with great hops.

July 2021

The seventh release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight Series is a Tart Wheat Ale (3.5% ABV) from Nate, a member of our Brewing team! This is a light and refreshing fruit beer, perfect for summer. The inspiration for the fruits in this beer (Grapefruit & Cactus) came from the spring training leagues for Major League Baseball (Grapefruit in Florida, Cactus in Arizona). Nate's inspiration behind the beer style came from his mother's favorite beer, Bell's Oarsman. Nate is a passionate a homebrewer and is very excited for everyone to have a taste of his brew!

August 2021

The eighth release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight series is a Rye IPA (7% ABV) from Josh, a member of our Logistics team! Not only does this American IPA have spicy Rye notes and orange/tropical hop flavors, the hops used in this brew are from both #TwoHearted & #Official! Josh is a big fan of Rye IPAs and wanted to showcase this style downtown at the pub.

September 2021

The ninth release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight series is a British Strong Ale (7% ABV) from Derek, a member of our Sales team! This recipe is a riff on the last beer Derek formulated as a professional brewer. The first time it saw a brew length was 1999 for the holiday & winter season! The key ingredients and processes in this are the use of English and English-style hops & an extended boil to develop kettle caramelization instead of using caramel/crystal malts. Derek is looking forward to sharing his recipe and brew with everyone at the pub - be sure to stop by and give this one a taste. 

October 2021

The tenth release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight series is a SMASH beer (5.3% ABV) from Bill, a member of our General Store team! If you're looking for a crushable & delicious brew, this one is for you. This recipe is an easy drinking pale ale with pleasant citrus fruit notes. In his words, he wanted "a light, refreshing beer that is simple to make & can be enjoyed year-round!"

November 2021

The eleventh release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight series is a Kvass beer (4.5% ABV) from Drew, a member of our Brewing team! This brew is a Farmhouse ale with rye bread added to the mash tun giving this one flavors of white pepper, banana & floral hops notes. The concept was to bring together two food products that start out with essentially the same ingredients; cereal grains & water, follow generally the same process, & end up each their own unique product of fermentation. Drew has been into making naturally levained bread for several years & brewing beer for even longer!In his words, "I thought that the maillard products produced as the bread bakes & forms a crust, would find a place in a beer, where those products are typically produced in the malt kiln. The natural, wild fermentation of the bread would contribute its own unique flavor & slight sourness. The base beer was intended to be somewhat neutral, ingredient wise, to let these flavors come through."

december 2021

The twelth release in our 2021 Employee Spotlight series is a Chai Milk Stout (7.5% ABV) from Ralph, a member of our Facilities team! This stout is brewed with honey & lactose, which is then conditioned on Chai tea that contains ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and black tea leaves. Ralph and his wife have recently become tea fanatics and Chai is a flavor combination that stands out to both! He thought that the flavors associated with Chai and milk would be delicious in a stout. In Ralph's words, "it should be called Yippi-Chai-ay since it is coming out in December & Die Hard is a Christmas movie. :)" 

January 2022

The 13th release in our 2022 Employee Spotlight series is a Peach Pomegranate Sour (5.2% ABV) from Erica, a member of our Finance team! This brew is a wheat ale conditioned on peach puree and pomegranate juice concentrate. Erica has never brewed before but has always wanted to be able to make something that she would pick out to drink on a tap list. She's a big fan of sours and fruit so she picked two fruits that she thought would pair well together! This beer is tart, light & refreshing. 

February 2022

The 14th release in our 2022 Employee Spotlight series is a Grisette (% ABV) from Michael, a member of our Quality team! Grisettes are an old Franco-Belgian beer style that have recently been re-popularized by some American breweries. They typically use saison yeast but are much lower in ABV. Michael has come to appreciate a lot of our low ABV brands like Light Hearted & UH Light, but wanted to come up with a recipe that married his love of Belgian beer & a modern "IPA-like" hop profile without just making a session IPA. This beer was designed to be crisp, dry & refreshing with a huge aromatic, dry hop punch from his two favorite hop varieties: Galaxy & Strata - both having strong citrus & tropical fruit characteristics. 

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