I'm Larry Bell, President and Founder of Bell's Brewery. Ask Me Anything!

Discussion in 'Ask Me Anything' started by LarryBell, Apr 9, 2020.

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  1. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Champion (827) May 3, 2016 Illinois

    And to piggy back on this, given the current barriers to leaving ones home (Covid-19), what are your thoughts on opening up laws for brewers to be able to drop ship directly to consumers?
  2. bluejacket74

    bluejacket74 Poo-Bah (5,362) Jul 4, 2005 Ohio

    Any plans on bottling Uberon? I was lucky enough to try it at a beer fest in Louisville recently, and was hoping to see if on the shelves around me because I'd like to buy some! And cheers to you and all your other brews too. :sunglasses::beers:
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  3. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    No plans but not a bad idea. I’ll bring it up in our meetings.
  4. Pmehs

    Pmehs Initiate (33) Jan 8, 2017 Virginia

    Thanks for the Bells Store selling homebrew supplies to homebrewers. I've always found the prices decent, shipping reasonable, staff helpful, items shipped quickly and great quality of products.

    While we currently don't have Bells beer available in VA, Bells is still in VA as I have the Bells Inspired Brewing tin sign hanging in my basement bar.
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  5. Pmehs

    Pmehs Initiate (33) Jan 8, 2017 Virginia

    I noticed mentions of Stroh's in a few posts. I remember drinking in the mid 1970's. Recently wanted to brew my own Stroh's. Anyone have a decent all grain version of the 1970's Stroh's?
  6. TheeWarPig

    TheeWarPig Initiate (98) Sep 30, 2015 Michigan

    Bombers would be great, add The Wild One to that as well. Thank you.
  7. ZAP

    ZAP Poo-Bah (4,326) Dec 1, 2001 Minnesota


    I appreciate you doing this chat. I first was introduced to your beers with the 12 stouts of November promotion years ago or something like that. My brother still has something regarding this on his wall in his cave...

    I think a lot of those stouts made it into your regular lineup now but wondering if you might consider a mixed 12er with some stouts in the future or bringing some of them back......Trumpeter is one I do not see anymore or Harry(Henry?) McGill stout...spiced stout for that one if I remember right...
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  8. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Defender (642) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    For the record, I enjoyed Blackbeard's Bear Hug. Thanks for the reply.
    LarryBell likes this.
  9. DannyBoy15347

    DannyBoy15347 Initiate (78) Mar 24, 2020 Missouri

    I'm kind of disappointed in myself as its been awhile since I've gotten anything from Bell's. I drank Two Hearted for pretty much the entire summer a few years back, and always enjoy Oberon as well. What's your favorite Beer that you'd recommend out of the Bell's line up?
  10. sattelmeier

    sattelmeier Initiate (66) May 4, 2010 Michigan

    I have enjoyed your beers for years. Thanks for all you have done for the industry and our state. Have you ever sold a Helles? I just think Bell's Helles would be a great name for a beer.
    AlcahueteJ, pudgym29, Billet and 5 others like this.
  11. dgmirelli

    dgmirelli Aspirant (271) Mar 21, 2015 New York

    Can you please date stamp on outside of your 4 pack packaging? I just bought a 4 pack of your Official Hazy for the first time, no date stamp on packaging, brought it home from a reputable local beer store and opened one to drink and it was dated Feb 19', 14 months old!! I took it up with the store and they would not consider a swap or return. It certainly was not a true representation of your product at the age, not refrigerated..
  12. dprice

    dprice Initiate (138) Feb 24, 2014 Delaware

    Love your beer I enjoy your diverse portfolio of beers. My favorite obvious is your 30th anniversary I have one left not sure when I will drink it, followed by Black note and all the cherry stouts and hop slam. Please continue pumping out stellar beers. I hope I get to try vanilla black note one of these days. Cheers
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  13. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    Please let me know where this was and we will look into it. Thanks for your comment.
  14. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    We have not but that name has been brought up before! Cheers!
  15. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    My favorite is Quinannan Falls but it has pretty limited production these days.
  16. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    I will bring up the idea in the Porfolio Management committee meeting. Thanks.
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  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,595) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I do not specifically have a clone recipe but I think I can get you in the ballpark.

    The Stroh’s of the 1970’s would have been an adjunct lager where corn grits would have been the adjunct. The base malt would in all probability have been 6-row pale malt.

    Below is something that Rob Stein posted in an AHA homebrewing forum thread:

    “The 1977 edition of the MBAA's The Practical Brewer contains a number of tables of wort composition data. Two sample wort analyses are footnoted as being courtesy of the Stroh Brewing Co.; one is 20% corn grits and the other 40% corn grits. No indication of course what products these represent, but it does indicate the range of adjunct they were using in brands they produced, unless these were just pilot plant worts made just for analysis. Maybe a little piece of the puzzle.”

    Perhaps split the difference of the two values and use 70% 6-row pale malt and 30% corn. I would suggest that you use flaked corn instead of corn grits so you could conduct a single temperature infusion mash vs. having to conduct a cereal mash.

    I would suggest you target:

    · OG: 1.045

    · FG: 1.006

    · IBU: 15

    I would recommend using Cluster hops for bittering (60 minutes of boil). I am uncertain if Stroh’s used later hop additions. Maybe add 0.5 ounces of Saaz for the last 15 minutes of boil.

    There are several American Lager yeasts you could select. From Wyeast: 2035 and 2007. I use Wyeast 2007 to brew my 1896 Michelob beer.

    I would suggest a using brewing water that is fairly soft and low in alkalinity.

    Are you a member of the AHA? If so, there is an article entitled “Classic American Pilsner” in the latest (March/April 2020) issue of Zymurgy which may provide additional context/details for you here.


    P.S. The below documentary is from the 60’s but still may be relevant to you:

  18. Rajaholick

    Rajaholick Initiate (158) Jan 9, 2011 Minnesota

    Strange the official and two hearted 4 packs I bought recently had date stamps on the outside cardboard.
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  19. Pmehs

    Pmehs Initiate (33) Jan 8, 2017 Virginia

    Thanks. Time to find my March/April 2020 Zymurgy!

    I found the article. Begins on page 29 by Jack Horzempa.
    #259 Pmehs, Apr 12, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
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  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,595) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    Best of luck on your version of a 70's Stroh's beer!

    Please report back on how it turns out.

    AlcahueteJ and pudgym29 like this.
  21. Billet

    Billet Aspirant (215) Dec 17, 2013 Michigan

    I'd buy some next time I see it...
  22. flat_lander

    flat_lander Crusader (713) May 11, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I've read an array of books on exploration over the years and have always found them really enjoyable. Have you read Where the Sea Breaks Its Back?
  23. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    It seems like there may be opportunities for start ups in the distribution world for small brewers having a difficult time getting there product out there. Just like consolidation in the brewery world led to new breweries opening the contraction of the wholesale tier may do the same.
    As far as direct shipments go, I think that legislating during a crisis is probably not a good idea here. And in general, I think you have to be very careful about how we take chinks out of the wholesaler wall because the more we loosen it up may eventually lead into the hands of the big guys, who would prefer to do away with the three tier system so that they may take over just like the rest of the world.
    In most states small suppliers need more protection and say in their contracts with wholesalers. If a brewer drops a wholesaler they owe the wholesaler. But it doesn’t go the other way. Why not? And why does a wholesaler like Reyes get to use laws that were designed to protect small family wholesalers fromAB and Miller against small brewers like us? It’s not what was intended but they don’t care.
  24. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,666) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    @LarryBell -- giving my question a bump because I didn't reply or mention you in the body, so I'm not sure you saw it -- and it's a subject (and beer tradition) I enjoy.
  25. archiebunkerjr

    archiebunkerjr Aspirant (216) Oct 25, 2010 Michigan

    Is there any chance that you could increase the number of taps on the growler system in the General Store? I know that your current setup restricts you. But your portfolio is so expansive that I wish you had more options available.

    btw, I dig what you have done with the General Store. I always spend a lot more money than I plan because I always find something interesting that I was not expecting.
    PapaGoose03, Junior and ChicagoJ like this.
  26. core42

    core42 Zealot (543) May 5, 2010 Michigan

    I believe he is referring to the beer listed on Untappd as Bells Imperial Rye Ale a Ryewine style ale aged in Rye Whiskey barrels. There were bottles made for 2018 Skills Week but has mostly been draft only.
    PS....it is an incredible beer, I had it at the Beer Exchange

    That is a panel that I would love to be a part of!

    If somebody were to own a Black Note Secret Society shirt, about how far in advance do I, oops I mean they, learn about Black Note and BA Expo releases?
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  27. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    COVID has us changing some things up. We will be starting Crowlers out of the Eccentric soon. No room for more growler options in the store.
  28. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    To me there has always been a place for seasonal brews and there will continue to be. True, by the numbers they have taken it on the chin lately- not nearly as bad in Michigan as in other states, and we will find a level for them to settle at. We still sell a shit ton of Oberon and a lot of other seasonal as well. I wish I could make more Octoberfest!
  29. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (3,841) Oct 14, 2009 California
    Society Trader

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for doing this, and for answering so many questions.

    I remember my first time trying Uberon at the cafe and it just blowing my mind... I don’t think I was at all familiar with barrel aged beers at all, and it still stands out in my mind. Fortunately, I’ve managed to find it at the cafe since then, and if it ever hits bottles I’ll be calling in some favors...

    My (last?) questions for you:

    Out of all the special “holidays” (Oberon Day, Eccentric Day, All Stouts Day, etc) at the Cafe, which one is your favorite, and why? I’ve never been in town for any of them, and I keep hoping my schedule will work out one of these days.
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  30. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (637) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Piggybacking on @steveh's question... what are your thoughts on seasonal creep?

    I'm expecting brewers to make pumpkin beer release announcements any day now... :grin:
    pudgym29, AlcahueteJ, Jaycase and 3 others like this.
  31. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,189) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    A dynamite beer.
  32. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,189) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Is that why Bell's is the best brewery out there for bottle cap collectors?
  33. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (637) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Do you collect John James Audubon prints? I see the Canvas Backed Duck behind you in your profile photo.

    Since I have your ear I'm just going to throw this out there... I think a series of beers featuring different Audubon art work in collaboration with the Audubon Society would be great and would fit Bells' artistic themes for beer series. Bells would score big points with the coveted birder-beer enthusiast niche too. :grin: (There's a lot of overlap in the niches actually. If you Google search for "birds and brews" it's a super common activity for birding organizations across the country.)
    #273 Ranbot, Apr 14, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
  34. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,189) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    @Ranbot , for your question, below is a post from Larry from earlier in the thread. For your series idea, I'd be extremely happy with that as a consumer. Unfortunately, Bell's current literary series seemed to run out of steam with consumers in my area. It turned into a trickle and then a drought. (A big disappointment for me :slight_frown:) I think today's consumers are probably more drawn to unicorns than ducks. :grimacing:
  35. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,666) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Old beer ad posters, like Hohlwein? Got an original Spaten litho you might be interested in... :wink:
  36. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (637) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Ahhh I see, now, I noticed the Audubon print later and forgot that post.

    Yeah, it's hard to get people's attention these days for sure. Although I think Audubon prints would at least be more eye catching than the current Leaves of Grass labels. For a literary theme the label aesthetics are perfect, like chapters of a book - I totally get it. Unfortunately those gray labels almost blend into the shelf. I also doubt many consumers are connecting with product on the literary theme, and purchases are mainly loyalty to Bells. Bell's planet series was far more memorable with more eye-catching labels and a theme people can connect with on some level beyond Bells being a good brewery. I think birds/Audubon has a similar potential to stand out on a shelf and make a connection to people.

    ...It's far easier for me to say this with hindsight from the comfort of my armchair, of course... no offense intended towards Bells creative team.
  37. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    I went to Eccentric Day once as “Seasonal Creep.” It has gotten a bit silly when the fall beers show up in mid July. In Michigan we are just hitting our summer stride. Bell’s has tried to avoid the creep as best we can. Yet I see excitement on the forums here for beers before their time so I guess someone wants to drink them early.
  38. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    Yes, some old beer posters. Mucha did the most famous one.
  39. LarryBell

    LarryBell Initiate (134) Dec 2, 2004 Michigan

    Yes, Audubon prints. And we have indeed discussed using them on a beer. Some testing has been done. We’ll see if it comes to fruition.
  40. archiebunkerjr

    archiebunkerjr Aspirant (216) Oct 25, 2010 Michigan

    This is music to my ears. For both crowlers and fills in the Eccentric Cafe. You just made my beer week.
    Junior likes this.
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