1983: Larry Bell began homebrewing, later opens homebrew supply store.
1986: Bell’s sold 135 barrels.
1989: Annual production
reached 500 barrels.
1990: Bell’s began shipping
to other states.
2001: Original downtown facility brewing 7 days a week.
2003: New brewing facility in Comstock, Michigan is christened.
2005: Comstock facility expands 10,000 square-feet.
2007: Cellar expansion
2008: 80-acre farm purchased
in Shepherd, Mich.
March 2011: Eccentric Café reopens after $3 million renovation.
May 2011: Bell’s breaks into Top 10 of total craft beer volume sold into grocery stores nationwide.
June 2011: Bell’s ranked eigth in total volume of all domestic craft brewers in the U.S. for 2010.
March 26, 2012: 12-packs debut with Bell's seasonal Oberon Ale.
May 14, 2012: New 200-barrel brewhouse and expanded production facility officially opens.
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It started with
a 15-gallon soup pot
Founded by Larry Bell in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bell's Brewery, Inc. sold its first beer in September 1985. Beer was initially brewed in a 15-gallon soup kettle and the company has grown remarkably from its production of 135 barrels (1 bbl = 31 gal.) in 1986 to a capacity of more than 500,000 barrels today.
Originally self-distributed, Larry and his staff of 9 employees bottled and delivered all of the beer to market during
the company's first four years. By 1989, Bell's was shipping over 500 barrels annually and assigned its first wholesaler to further establish itself across the state of Michigan. In 1993, Bell's became the first Michigan brewery to open an onsite pub.
After struggling several years to produce and sell robust, full-bodied ales against a tide of mass-market domestic beer, Bell's began to see the demand for craft beer grow dramatically and expanded into new markets. Bell's currently sells beer across an 18-state area in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington DC through a network of more than 60 quality wholesalers.
In 2003, Bell's opened a new brewery in nearby Comstock. This facility has now seen five expansions since then.
Our most recent construction project, a 200-barrel brewhouse began in April, 2011 and officially opened May 14, 2012. Fourteen 400-barrel fermentation tanks, new grain handling facilities and an employee care area were also added expanding the brewery to just over 100,000 square feet. Read more about it here.
Our Logistics Center, located in Galesburg near I-94, occupies a 30,000 square foot building that formerly housed Galesburg Frozen Foods. The building opened in October, 2011 and is used to store packaged beer and serve as a pickup point for distributors.
Despite expansion at our main production facility, we haven't forgotten our roots, and we continue to brew at our original location in downtown Kalamazoo. Using the same equipment that served us so well for so many years, this space has become home to several specialty projects, as well as brewing an extensive array of brands typically only available at the adjoining Eccentric Café.
In the beginning of 2010, renovations to our Kalamazoo facility began with plans to make significant improvements to the existing Eccentric Café and transform former warehouse space into a separate, dedicated music venue. The Cafe officially reopened on March 28, 2011, allowing us to host musicians and other entertainment acts from across the country. Renovations also included expanded restrooms, additional seating options, a transformed Beer Garden, a new patio and a new main entry way. Take a look.
Between our four locations, including our corporate office just down the street from our Comstock Brewery, Bell’s currently employs more than 200 people.