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Imperial Coffee Blonde Ale takes first place at Bell’s 10th Annual Homebrew Competition

Bill Blakeslee, left, won the 2019 Bell's Homebrew Competition.

The winners of Bell’s 10th Annual Homebrew Competition were announced during the 11th Annual All Stouts Day at the Eccentric Café this past Sunday, Nov. 3.

Three homebrewers placed out of the 122 entries submitted this year. First place went to Bill Blakeslee for his Imperial Coffee Blonde Ale. He will brew his recipe at our original brewery in Kalamazoo to then go on tap at the adjacent Café.

Blakeslee will also head to the 2020 Great American Beer Festival in Denver as a guest of Bell’s and compete alongside a Bell’s brewer in the Pro-Am Competition.

This was another very solid year of homebrew entries. Once again there was no lack of off-the-wall and innovative recipe designs and execution,” said David Curtis, Bell’s General Store Operations Manager and competition organizer.

Second place went to Adam Cagle for his Blueberry Lavender Gose. Third place went to Nick Rodammer  (2012 winner) for his dry-hopped Session Sour Ale with guava and sea salt.

This year’s honorable mentions are (in no particular order):

  • Andy Akers – British-inspired Ale with honey and ginger
  • Travis Wasson: Kettle-soured, smoothie-style Gose with lactose, Himalayan sea salt, mango and peach puree
  • Taylor Pomeroy & Scott Horton - Cherry Cream Ale
  • David Beerens - Belgian Saison
  • Joe Stanley - English Porter

All were recognized during Sunday’s announcement and received a prize.

From ingredients, to equipment to advice, the Bell’s General Store continues supporting the homebrew community that helped Larry Bell get his start before the brewery sold its first commercial pint. Originally founded as the Kalamazoo Brewing Co., the Bell’s General Store opened in 1983.

Cheers and congratulations to everyone!

Previous winners

2018: Apricot IPA - Matt MacQuillan

2017: Damson Plum Crisp Saison – Steve Vroegop

2016: Freedom of Peach, a hoppy saison brewed with peaches from Evan Monroe

2015: Bale So Hard, a farmhouse ale brewed with HBC 438 and Mosaic hops, from David Hellen

2014: Coffee Mustache, a California common style beer brewed with coffee, from Matt VanNatter

2013: Proud Mitten, a dry hopped IPA/pale ale made with Centennial, Citra and Simcoe hops, from David Lyman

2012: Manden Med Leen, a black IPA brewed with Belgian yeast, from Nick Rodammer

2011: A Bit of Heat from Geoff Groff, brewed with paradise seeds, rose hips and habaneros

2010: Oscar’s Folly, a collaborative IPA from Jarrett Cupp, Bailey Cupp and Paul Gentz

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Dark Night 2019

Join us the week of Dec. 16 for our annual celebration of the longest nights of the year, the Winter Solstice, with great beer. 

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