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!


camojack said...

I hosted a picnic for my caving club at "La Casa de Camo" (my rambling estate) this weekend. One of my fellow cavers, who is an accomplished brewer in his own right, brought a couple of pressurized 5 gallon containers of his own beers...great stuff!

Beerme said...


Sounds like a good time! That's how I package most of my beers, now. It's so much simpler than bottling.

Growinghops said...

Sounds like a great event. Bells is one of my favorite beers (Two Hearted Ale). Nothing like a hoppy beer or ale! Charlie's autograph! We are not worthy. I had the pleasure of getting the late Michael Jackson's autograph at a local event many years ago at the now defunct Sherlock Holmes outside of Minneapolis. BTW - love the hop harvest pics - tasty.

Beerme said...

Michael Jackson's autograph! Even more impressive. I had Michael Jackson's incomparable Beer Companion (my lovely wife purchased it for me from a yard sale!), but it was ruined in a wort flood of epic proportions...

Welcome aboard! I'll blogroll your site!

Brian said...

Man..I love me some Bells! Being in Chicago we've again started receiving Bells beers and I'll tell you the "Third Coast Ale" has to be one of the tastiest brews I've had in a long time..amazingly well balanced and flavorfull.


Beerme said...


Have you ever tried Third Coast Old Ale? It's a big malty Old Ale (almost a Barleywine)and one of my Bell's Favorites. I like the TCA too, though!

You should have seen the Wild Ale experiments they're working on over there! Unfortunately, there was none to try, the workers and pub personnel having finished it off the night before (rotters). There were about a dozen wood barrels at the pub location and several more at the big brewery, though. I guess you need to be there at the pub to try these specialties.