If you think you’ve got a winning homebrew recipe, how about entering the 5th Annual Bell’s Homebrew Competition? You can pick up your wort at the brewery this coming Saturday, Sept. 13.
The wort, which will be minimally boiled and entirely un-hopped at Bell’s Brewery, will be made with 100 percent Michigan Pale Ale malt. Homebrewers will then be free to let their imaginations run wild, completing the kettle boil with their own systems and adding whatever adjuncts and hops they desire.
There are no style guidelines or restrictions for the final beer, as long as it is brewed using the base wort provided by Bell’s Brewery. Four bottles of finished beer will need to be submitted to Bell’s General Store by Saturday, Oct. 25, with completed entry forms and provided labels rubber-banded to each bottle.
Winners will be announced on All Stouts Day at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe on Sunday, Nov. 2. The homebrewer who takes first prize will have the opportunity to brew a batch of his or her winning recipe with Zeke Bogag, pub brewer at Bell’s downtown location. The winner will also get to team up with Bell’s for the 2015 Pro-Am Competition at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo. What homebrewer would not like that honor?
This coming weekend also marks the brewery’s 29th anniversary with several additional events Saturday, Sept. 13. Multiple companies will be on hand at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe demonstrating their homebrew products and answering questions, and anyone wearing Bell’s apparel will get $1 off beers.
If by 4 p.m. you are not too full of beer, you can compete in the 8th annual hot dog eating competition. Signing up gets you a free t-shirt, all the hot dogs you can handle and quite possibly some well deserved glory. Winners in each division (men’s and women’s) will also get a trophy and a Bell’s gift card. Call 269-250-8827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or for more information.
Join Bell’s on the following day, Sunday, September 14 for the Great Lakes Gala to benefit the Great Lakes. This is an opportunity to celebrate the Great Lakes, raise awareness, and learn how to protect and restore them. Speakers from Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Michigan Environmental Council will be featured.
Kalamazoo’s own Great Lakes Grass will also perform at the gala. Admission is free, but there is a $10 suggested donation. Money raised will go to the featured organizations. Bell’s will also match the amount raised up to $2,500.
Next up in the Planets Series is Venus- Bringer of the Peace, which will be a blonde ale brewed with honey, apricot, cardamom, and vanilla (7.5% ABV). Bell’s dry “beaned” Venus last week with 60 pounds of hand-sliced vanilla beans while listening to Gustav Holst. According to the brew crew, the cellar smelled amazing.
Look for Venus to start shipping in October. Learn more about Bell’s Planets series, inspired by Gustov Holst’s orchestral suite. If you haven’t already noticed, Bell’s Best Brown Ale (5.8% ABV) hit Michiana shelves recently.
Last week I stopped at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe to enjoy some of their pub-only releases brewed by Zeke. I started with Larry’s Latest Pale Ale 2014-3 (5% ABV). It had a floral piney nose with a hop forward bitterness and a crisp finish.
Then as I was enjoying my BBQ tempeh sandwich, another beer on the tap board caught my eye — Quince Love. According to the board, this is Wheat Love aged in bourbon barrels. It definitely had a strong nose of alcohol at 13.7% ABV. The bourbon aroma and flavor was fairly mild and gave way to strong bright fruitiness. I love Wheat Love, and I love Wheat Love on bourbon barrels. After checking the Bell’s tap cam, I see that it is still available, but it may not last too much longer.