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Hop Notes: Bell's annual come as you aren't party is Friday

Looking for someplace to take your alter ego? Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Day is the annual party where you “come as you aren’t.”

If you’ve never been to Eccentric Day, you just might not understand, but there will be a core group of Bell’s enthusiasts who will be there when doors open at 9 a.m. this Friday. And there will be a few Goshenites among them.

The annual party includes eccentric food, eccentric dress, and yes, Eccentric Ale. Each year, on the day before the party, a guest brewer brews Eccentric Ale to be released at the following year’s event. Last year’s Eccentric Ale (brewed in 2013 and served in 2014) was brewed by Matt Brynildson from Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Each year’s recipe varies just a bit according to the brewer, and Matt brought wild sage, pink peppercorns and a pinot noir grape reduction syrup for his contributions to last year’s brew.

Last year’s guest brewer (who’s beer will be served at this year’s event) was Bill Morgan, brewmaster at the Blind Pig Brewery, Champaign, Ill. He brought horseradish root as a contribution to the beer. Other ingredients include juniper berries, ginger, caraway seeds, coriander, maple syrup, molasses and chestnut chips. This year’s guest brewer is Jace Marti of August Schell Brewing Company, and he brought fresh ginger to add. His beer will be released next year.

The food and beer menu has just been released. Here are just a few things to whet your appetite: Alligator gumbo, pork confit jalapeño mac and cheese, crawfish, Scotch quail eggs with chorizo, beef cheek egg rolls, chocolate-covered bacon, conch fritters, ostrich meatballs, smoked wild boar ribs, elk brisket, crab-stuffed mushrooms, pickled pigs feet, fried shrimp & grit balls with red eye gravy, elk tenderloin, and of course fresh water caviar which has become a tradition. The food spread is all free and Larry Bell refers to it this way in an MLive article: “The basis for the food is the old-time, free lunch that the saloons had back before prohibition. Hearty, spicy, salty. A sardine sandwich was free, but they were as salty as the seven seas and you drank like a fish after that.” Which leads us to the specialty beer menu for the day.

The beer list includes more than 70 beers, and it is my experience that more are usually added the morning of the event. Here are just a few that will be on tap: 30th Anniversary Ale, Batch 1500, Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout, Coffee Mustache, Crazy Brewer, L’Appel Du Vide – Dry Hopped, Larry’s Stupid Quadrupid, Milchkaffee Stout, Sherry Barrel Bull in a China Shop, Tawny Port Baltic Porter and Tripel Belgian Style Ale. To see the full food and beer menu, check out Bell’s webpage.

The only requirement for entry into the party is your eccentric dress. “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.” “NO ADMITTANCE WITHOUT ALTER EGO” is posted on their website event listing.

This year Bell’s is shaking it up a bit with DJ Bowser from WIDR who will be spinning during the day, Babylon Sneakers (a Steely Dan tribute band) playing through happy hour and then a three DJ group called Analog Ancestry rounding the night out. Regular restaurant seating and service will not be offered and the pub will be 21 and all day and night.

Check out Bell’s Flickr page to see photos of years past. You might just recognize some of the folks in the photos.

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