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Heath Bar Porter and Hell Raisin Saison are two tasty offerings at Tibbs Brewing in Kalamazoo

Several friends have been highly recommending Heath Bar Porter (5.8 percent ABV) from Tibbs Brewing Company, Kalamazoo, Mich., and last week I made that happen.

Heath Bar Porter is an amazing beer and probably one of the best chocolate forward beers that I’ve tasted. It is a very rich, creamy, chocolate, roasted malt and coconut lovers dream. I do love a Heath bars, but it may have been a little closer to an Almond Joy to my palate. But hey, I love both of those candy bars and either way, it is a great beer.

After talking with owner/brewer Kevin Tibbs, I learned that he created the recipe for the Wounded Warrior benefit hosted by the brewery on July 11. The event was in honor of SSG Benjamin Blake Jones, who passed away in 2012. Ben’s parents said Heath Bars were one of his favorite foods so Kevin brewed a beer for the event that tied into something he enjoyed. 

Since it was first tapped in July, it has been Tibbs’ best selling beer and they are trying their best to always have it on tap. Kevin is in the process of changing the name to “Ben Jonesin’ for Chocolate and Toffee Porter” in honor of Ben.

Since I hadn’t had the Hell Raisin’ Saison (8.5 percent ABV), I tried a sample of that before leaving as well.

It was a straightforward traditional saison with notes of Belgian yeast, clove, banana and mild citrus. There was just a slight bitter finish, but very refreshing.  

Kevin is not a huge fan of saisons, but after tasting Brewery Vivant Paris Saison at the Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Fest, he was inspired to create his own. Since it was his first beer of this style, his goal was to brew it true to style, and he was quite successful.

As often happens when visiting breweries, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman next to me at the bar. It turned out that his nephew, Cesar Marron, owns a brewery in Evanston, Ill.

Cesar is a Samuel Adams Longshot American Homebrew Contest 2013 winner, and he opened Sketchbook Brewing with brewing/business partner Shawn Decker in 2014. It’s been a while since I’ve been up that way, but now I know of a good place to stop next time I’m in Evanston.

If it had been a nicer evening, I would have enjoyed sitting at Tibb’s outdoor seating, which is a great addition to the downtown brewery.  

As far as keeping up with demand, the brewery will be doubling its capacity with a new four barrel system. Kevin and his brewing team are are hoping to be brewing in their new expansion area within the next month or so. 

Tibbs Brewing is located downtown Kalamazoo at the corner of Burdick and Lovell streets. They are open seven days a week: 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday, 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

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