Sunday, September 28, 2008

AHA Rally At Bell's!

What do you think about an event that combines a great bunch of friendly, creative and fun-loving people, a really interesting and exciting venue and the best damned (commercial) beer in Michigan? Well the latest American Homebrewers Association membership rally was just that kind of an event! It took place in Kalamazoo, Michigan but started off with a tour of the Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan, about six miles away from the site of the rally, Bell's Eccentric Cafe.

Fred (one of my Lapeer Area Brewers buddies) and I went to the rally together and we enjoyed the beer, the special guests and the camaraderie very much. We met Brandon, newest L.A.B. member, and his lovely wife Melissa, at the brewery tour, and hung out together the rest of the day. The tour was pretty cool. We saw the entire Bell's operation learned about the bhistory of the brewery and all the changes that are even now, still taking place. We were greated upon arrival by the sight of two dozen extremely large cylindro-conical stainless steel ferementers, piled all around the building. These, we were told during the tour, were 24 brand new 400 barrel fermenters! Each one of these fermenters will hold over 12000 gallons of delicious Bell's beer! They are to be installed in the next week or so. I forgot my camera but many others didn't and I believe you can see some one hundred photos or more of the tour and the rally at this website (courtesy of Mike Obrien at the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild-thanks for the link Mike!)

The Michigan Homebrewing community was well represented. I saw Fred Bonjour, Jeff Renner and Jeff Carlson and many, many other excellent homebrewers who contribute mightily to the homebrewing scene here in the Great Beer State. The host for the event was Larry Bell, the guy who started the craft-brewing revolution in Michigan and its most successful practicioner. The guests of honor were AHA founder and homebrewing Godfather, Charlie Papazian and his lovely wife Sandra. The fact that I forgot my camera or even that I forgot the tattered, dog-eared and wort-stained eight-year-old copy of The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing, by Charlie Papazian, that I was very excited to present to the author for a signature, won't surprise any of you that actually know me but that did indeed happen! I got my Pontiac Brew Tribe hat bill signed, instead, though, so no worries, mate!

Speaking of the Brew Tribe, when I met Larry Bell for a picture and to thank him for the party, he took one look at my hat and said, "I have one of those"! I calmly tipped up the brim and asked if his was signed by Charlie Papazian, and he said, sheepishly, that it was not. Noticing my cup was empty just before the photo was taken of Fred, Brandon, Larry and me, I asked Larry, who had a nearly full pale ale in his hand, for a little fill up. He happily obliged with a tip of his cup and we shared a Bell's beer together. Hey, I mooched a beer off of Larry Bell!

A good time was had by all and the AHA increased in numbers again, thanks to the generosity of Bell's Brewery, the founder of the AHA, Charlie Papazian, and the efforts of the Michigan homebrewing community!
I hope to get some photos of this event added to another post, soon. Until then, cheers!