Before Michigan became a mitten-shaped beer paradise, the Kalamazoo Brewing Company, founded by brewer Larry Bell, began slowly brewing handcrafted beer in a soup kettle. In 1985, the playing field was considerably different—and the company, now known simply as Bell's, has grown from their roots as a local downtown brewer to a widely admired company whose staple and seasonal beers are distributed in 18 states (sadly, not mine.)
Having long since outgrown the downtown Kalamazoo facility (which still houses a beer store and the Eccentric Cafe brew pub) and their second brewing facility in nearby Comstock, the company expanded their brewing capacity again earlier this year, with the addition of a 200-barrel production brewery in also-nearby Galesburg. The capacious new space accommodates the brewery's special needs like increased capacity for dry-hopping, good news for any fans of their magically bright Two-Hearted Ale.
The space was also designed for speed, reduced physical stress on the workers, and environmental sustainability—as well as simply totally rad antiquities, like reclaimed cypress open-top fermentation tanks from the old Stroh's brewery in Detroit, which will be rebuilt for a new life of experimental brews.
Whether you wait all winter for Oberon, or you wait all summer for Hopslam, a trip to the new Bell's brewery—they aren't offering tours to the public quite yet, but plan to as soon as they're all unpacked—is both enticing and inspiring. Click through the slideshow above to enjoy a little walk through this space created by one of the true Midwestern beer pioneers.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about beverages all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop later this year.