Eccentric Day 2014 at Bell's Brewery will feature more than 60 beers, eccentric food and dress

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader

If you have never been to Bell’s Eccentric Day, or Bell’s Brewery for that matter, this year’s special day — Friday, Dec. 5 — would make an excellent time to make the trek. Each year at this special party, Bell’s releases it’s Eccentric Ale, a rare strong ale that is brewed the day before Eccentric Day for the following year.

This year’s release was brewed with help from Matt Brynildson, brewmaster at Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles, Calif., the day before last year’s party. That means it will have aged slightly less than a year before its release in both bottles at the General Store and on tap at the Eccentric Cafe. Each year, the recipe varies a bit, depending on the collaborating brewer.  

Brynildson brought wild sage, pink peppercorns and a pinot noir grape reduction syrup for his contributions to last year’s brew. In addition to graduating from Larry Bell’s Alma Mater — Kalamazoo College — in 1993, Brynildson has also brewed at Goose Island Brewing Co., in Chicago and SLO Brewing Co., in California. 

The theme, as always, is “come as you aren’t.” There is no cover charge, but everyone must dress eccentrically. I have seen people step up to the door and try to get in by just turning their hat backwards, which doesn’t fly at this party. 

“You don’t have to spend months and months planning your outfit, although quite a few do and we always look forward to seeing how people interpret that,” said Bell’s vice president Laura Bell. “Some of the best dressed are put together from your own closet.”

I have been fortunate enough to attend Eccentric Day every year for the past nine years with the exception of one time and I have put together a range of eccentric outfits.

The brewery holds nothing back for this party and will tap more than 60 different beers throughout the day, which begins at 9 a.m. Generally, Larry Bell arrives around 10 a.m. and starts the day off with an Eccentric Ale.

The Eccentric Cafe can tap 40 different beers at any given time and quite often, these beers are special release, pub-only beers — many of which are barrel-aged. They have published Friday’s tap list, however, it has been my experience that they often pull out additional special beers at the last minute.  My most wanted Bell’s beer at the moment is on the list — Cinnamon Sunrise Stout.

Friday’s beer list:

  • Amber Ale
  • Bear Hug Imperial Stout
  • Beer Michigan (barleywine brewed for this year’s American Homebrewers Conference in Grand Rapids — made with 100 percent Michigan barley and hops)
  • Best Brown Ale
  • Boon Companion
  • Brett Stout
  • Bright Size Life
  • Bull in a China Shop
  • Cherry Stout
  • Christmas Ale
  • Cider
  • Cinnamon Sunrise Stout
  • Coffee Consecrator Doppelbock
  • Dagger Stout
  • Double Cream Stout
  • Double Cream Stout – Nitro
  • Eccentric Ale 2013
  • Expedition Stout
  • Experimental Hop 2014-5
  • Harry Magill’s Spiced Stout
  • Harvest Ale
  • Honey Hearted
  • Java Stout
  • Java Stout Toasted Coconut Espresso
  • Kal-Haven Ale
  • Kalamazoo IPA
  • Kalamazoo Stout
  • Bourbon Barrel Aged Kalamazoo Stout
  • Lager of the Lakes
  • Maillard’s Odyssey (Sierra Nevada Beer Camp)
  • Mars DIPA – The Bringer of War
  • Midwestern Pale Ale
  • Milk Stout
  • Mocha Porter
  • Morning Mary Ale
  • Mr. Castries Vilnius Baltic Porter
  • Oarsman
  • Oat Ale
  • Oatmeal Stout
  • The Oracle DIPA
  • Pecan Pie Porter
  • Porter
  • Quadruple Belgian-Style Ale
  • Quince Third Coast Old Ale
  • Quince Love
  • Red Nose ESB
  • Raspberry Ale
  • Roundhouse IRA
  • Rye Stout
  • Smoked Stout
  • Sparkling Ale
  • Sweet Potato Stout
  • Third Coast Beer
  • Third Coast Old Ale
  • Third Coast Old Ale Traverse City Cherry
  • Third Coast Old Ale Toasted Coconut Espresso
  • Third Coast Old Ale Reserve
  • Tripel Belgian-Style Ale
  • Trumpeter’s Stout
  • Venus: The Bringer of Peace (blonde ale brewed with vanilla, cardamom and honey)
  • Winter White Ale

Aside from the beer and eccentric dress, the food menu is always another highlight, which is free.  

“Our kitchen team spends quite a bit of time seeking out, prepping and serving a large assortment of food for Eccentric Day,” Laura said.  

My good friend Jason Reicherts — a retail manager for the downtown facility — is the man behind the scenes for this event. He spends many weeks getting ready for Eccentric Day so that all of us have the best time imaginable.  

Food menu:

  • Tons of cheeses
  • Various charcuterie meats
  • Pickled eggs
  • Pickled pigs feet
  • Cow and pig tongue
  • Chicken liver pate
  • Venison osso bucco
  • Buffalo shepherd’s pie
  • Alligator gumbo
  • Elk stew
  • Rabbit stew
  • Bison cornbread stuffing
  • Ostrich stuffed peppers
  • Buffalo curry
  • Wild boar chili
  • Antelope stir fry
  • Pork confit mac & cheese
  • Buffalo kabobs
  • Smoked wild boar legs
  • Smoked leg of lamb
  • Smoked turkey legs
  • House made sausages
  • Smoked duck with apricot mint spread
  • Jerk smoked quail legs
  • Quail & chorizo scotch eggs
  • Lamb meatloaf with mint chimichurri
  • Smoked whitefish mousse
  • Super spicy chicken wings
  • Lamb fries
  • Chicken & waffle kabobs
  • Cream cheese smoked jalapenos
  • Smoked tomato salsa
  • Beef cheek spring rolls
  • Fried shrimp & grits balls
  • Caviar
  • Crab
  • Oysters
  • Smoked salmon

One of my personal favorites is the fresh water caviar. Larry Bell has a friend in the Chicago area who supplies this and, of course, what is a good party without bread? Judy Sarkozy of Sarkozy’s — where Larry got his start in brewing — shows up each year with lots of bread.  

Eccentric Ale 2014 will be brewed the day before this year’s event with guest brewer Bill Morgan of Champaign, Ill.  Guests must be 21 or older on Eccentric Day.

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