Larry Bell is not one to sit quiet when he or his beer is mocked.
In 2008, when West Coast brewers talked some smack about Midwest brewers not being able to brew big, hoppy IPAs, Bell’s brewed Big Head IPA (double IPA, 11 percent ABV, IBUs 103+). This beer was way over the top with hops and was brewed just in time to take to the Brewers Association’s Craft Beer Wholesalers Conference in San Diego.
Larry said at the time in an interview with Kalamabrew, “”We’re having a little tongue-in-cheek fun with our San Diego brethren … It’s just having a little smack-down fun.”
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I was lucky enough to get a bottle of Big Head, and boy was it a hop bomb.
Now, Bell’s is poking fun at Anheuser Busch, which mocked craft beer in a recent super bowl ad.
In the ad, phrases like, “proud to be macro,” and “let them sip their pumpkin peach ales,” were flashed across the screen. In response – you guessed it – Bell’s is brewing a pumpkin peach ale.
According to a Chicago Tribune interview with Larry, he said, “It’s a (screw) you to Anheuser-Busch, because they sent us a (screw) you.”
Bell’s Brewery is brewing a pumpkin peach ale using peach puree and a pumpkin grown on the roof of Larry Bell’s Chicago home.
“I guess we’re getting under their skin and they had to take a shot at us,” Bell said in the interview. “We have a little bit of a smirk on our face with this. You think we make fussy beer? Well, we do.”
Bell’s General Store manager David Curtis was given the opportunity by Larry Bell to brew this beer with his store team. David has 13 years of homebrewing experience and the whole store team is a great resource for homebrewers.
David divided his team to develop the recipe and put some in charge of the pumpkin part and some in charge of the peach part.
Larry brought in his last pumpkin of the season, which was not in pristine condition, but still had plenty of usable pumpkin meat left on it.The pumpkin was cut, baked and added right into the mash.
The peach part of the team cut and mashed five pounds of peaches. After fermentation, the beer was racked onto the peaches and left for another week.
No pumpkin spices were added — instead, the pumpkin gives the beer more body than actual pumpkin flavor.
The recipe is a light amber ale that ended up around 5.3 percent ABV. David told me that he thought it was delicious before adding the peaches, and was a bit nervous about the results after doing so. However, the peaches added a light sweetness and he is very happy with the results.
At right around five gallons, this is the smallest batch of Bell’s beer that David is aware of, yielding just over 40 bottles total.
Although no release date or time has been set, there is much anticipation for these very few bottles of special pumpkin peach ale. At this point, the beer has been bottled and the brewery is just waiting on the labels to arrive.
All bottles will be sold for $20 at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, and will be poured into a glass for consumption on site only. Proceeds will benefit the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
In addition to Bell’s tongue-in-cheek beer, other responses the the Anheuser-Busch have included the release of a Peach of Resistance Pumpkin Peach home brew kit, T-shirts and at least two other beers from Michigan breweries: Griffin Claw Brewing Company Beechwood Aged Pumpkin Peach Ale and Hideout Brewing Company, which debuted its pumpkin peach ale at the Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival.
Ironically, the Super Bowl commercial aired shortly after Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased Seattle-based craft brewer Elysian Brewing Co., which brews Gourdgia On My Mind — a peach pecan pumpkin amber ale.