One of the things we are passionate about here at Ravenwood Castle and the Malted Meeple is craft beer. We pride ourselves on having an excellent assortment of craft beers for the enjoyment of our guests. In our monthly blog feature the Brewery Spotlight, we raise our pints to the men and women who dedicate themselves to the brewing craft. This month’s Brewery Spotlight is written by former Ravenwood Innkeeper Karington Hess.
This month, we raise our pints to our friends from Bell’s Brewery – a family-owned and operated brewery based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The story of Bell’s begins in the late 1970s when Larry Bell, the founder and namesake of the company, moved to Kalamazoo to attend Kalamazoo College. After completing his degree, he began working at the original Sarkozy Bakery, which sparked his interest in fermentation and yeast cultures. Soon after, Larry began trying his hand at brewing his own beer and saw an opportunity: in 1983, Larry opened his own homebrew supply store using the name Kalamazoo Brewing Co. This would eventually lead Larry to brewing and selling his first commercial beer in a 15-gallon soup pot in 1985. From these humble beginnings, Bell’s Brewery would grow into what it is today.
In the following ten years, Bell’s Brewery would make the transition from only self-distributing locally to distributing outside of the state of Michigan and becoming the first brewery in the state to open their own onsite pub, The Eccentric Café. By 2001 the original downtown Kalamazoo Brewery was brewing seven days a week to keep up with demand. Bell’s opened a second brewery seven miles away in Comstock, Michigan, in 2003 and would expand it over the next several years.
In 2015 the brewery celebrated their 30th year in operation by inviting brewers from all over the world to join them in Kalamazoo for a once in a lifetime beer festival. It was attended by over 4,000 guests and more than 200 unique brews were poured, many of which had never been tapped before. Included in the lineup was Bell’s own 30th anniversary ale, an American Imperial stout created to commemorate the occasion.
Although Bell’s now distributes to 31 states, the Brewery is mindful of its origin. Their journey began with a 15-gallon soup pot, a quest for better beer, and countless homebrew batches. As they continue to grow and develop, they remain dedicated to their mission statement – to think beyond the beer in the glass. It is their goal to create high quality beer, food, and experiences that reflect their culture and passion. They are fiercely independent and are one of the few breweries that are completely family owned and operated. They strive to practice good stewardship of their resources and to provide for their community.
During the month of November, we will be proudly featuring some of Bell’s most famous beers, including:
Two Hearted Ale – American IPA, 7% ABV, named after the Two Hearted River in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, one of Larry Bell’s favorite places to visit and go fishing. This beer is brewed with 100% Centennial Hops from the Pacific Northwest and is bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit. The beer is perfectly balanced with a malt backbone and combined with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast. This beer is remarkably drinkable and well suited for adventures everywhere!
Christmas Ale – This traditional Scotch Ale is rich and malty with notes of caramel and a warm finish. Certain to make any occasion festive, including frigid Ohio winters! Enjoy with the company of friends and family.
Stop into The Malted Meeple or Ravenwood Castle throughout November to enjoy a fresh Two Hearted or Bell’s Christmas Ale. Ravenwood Castle will also be hosting Bell’s as one of the two featured breweries for our Beer Tasting Weekend December 1st and 2nd. Rumor has it the tasting will include an exclusive keg of Bell’s Le Contrebassiste!