Winner of Bell’s Homebrew Competition to debut July 21

KALAMAZOO, MICH. — The Draft Board is about to get a little spicier — and we’re not talking about hops.

“A Bit of Heat,” the homebrew from Geoff Groff that won Bell’s second annual homebrew competition back in September, will be tapped at 3 p.m. July 21 at the Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.

Brewed with paradise seeds, rose hips and habaneros at our original brewery located next to the Cafe, Groff’s dry habanero-ed IPA or Strong Pale Ale comes in at 6.4% ABV.

Groff, who is originally from Troy and now lives in Climax, has been homebrewing off and on since about 1999. Although he points out that he has brewed a lot more since joining the Kalamazoo Libation Organization of Brewers (KLOB), a local homebrewing club based in Kalamazoo, a couple of years ago.

He decided the day before picking up his Bell’s wort to experiment with peppers, something he had wanted to do for a short while. He used habaneros that he grew.

But don’t let the pepper factor scare you away. There’s just the right amount of heat, hence the name.

“It is well balanced and is not as spicy as people may think. The spice is enough to recognize that’s it in there and that it is peppery,” Groff said.

It comes out a bit more in the finish, he said.

Groff, along with Brewery Manager Andy Farrell and Specialty Brewer Zeke Bogan brewed about 10 barrels of A Bit of Heat in June on Bell’s 15-barrel system. This is also where Bell’s brews its experimental and small batch beers like The Wild One and an ongoing series of beers that use experimental hops directly from growers’ trial plots among others.

I enjoyed being with Andy and Zeke, to watch them brew on a larger system, and seeing how different it is from brewing on a homebrew scale, he said.

“The fact that you can brew 10 barrels in not more than a few hours longer then it might take a homebrewer to make five to ten gallons is quite cool,” Groff said.

Groff is a substitute teacher in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties and hopes to start brewing professionally, perhaps even open his own brewery, someday.

Bell’s Third Annual Homebrew Expo and Competition Kick-off will be held on Sept. 8. Stay tuned to Bell’s Homebrewing Blog, website as well as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more details as they become available.


Bell’s Brewery, Inc. began in 1985 with a quest for better beer and a 15-gallon soup kettle. Since then, its grown into a regional craft brewery that employs more than 180 people over an 18-state area, in addition to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The dedication to brewing flavorful, unfiltered, quality craft beers that started in 1985 is still with the brewery today. Bell’s currently brews more than 20 beers for distribution as well as many other small batch beers that are served at its pub in Kalamazoo, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. Its ongoing goal is to brew thoughtfully, creatively and artistically. Bell’s strives to bring an authentic and pleasant experience to all of its customers through unique ales and beers. For more information, visit


Arbor Brewing Company is Michigan’s first solar brewery

ANN ARBOR, MICH. — Ann Arbor’s first brewpub also became Michigan’s first solar brewery when it went online with a $95,000 solar-thermal and photovoltaic system on June 18, 2012.

Arbor Brewing Company’s sustainable energy system uses the sun’s energy to generate electricity as well as the majority of the hot water needed for brewery and restaurant operations.

The project grew out of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) Energy Conservation Grant Program which provided free energy audits and 50 percent project rebates (up to $20,000) to downtown businesses that implemented audit recommendations to become more energy efficient. Arbor Brewing Company owner Matt Greff worked with Ann Arbor DDA Energy Programs Director David Konkle as well as a consulting team from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment led by Jarett Diamond. Together they were able to identify a number of financial resources and incentives to help offset the installation cost of the system including the $20,000 grant from the DDA, a $10,000 interest-free loan from the city, a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government, and various incentives from DTE.

Arbor Brewing Company’s sustainable energy system includes a 2.4 kW solar photovoltaic array, 300 solar thermal collector tubes and a high-efficiency tankless water heater system to supplement the heat from the collector tubes when necessary. When combined with other improvements like switching to CFL and LED lighting and installing low-flow sprayers and occupancy sensors, the system is expected to offset gas usage by up to 40% and electricity usage by up to 15%.

Arbor Brewing Company’s Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti also is nearing completion on its own $250,000 Green Brewery Project, which includes solar-thermal, photovoltaic, and geo-thermal technologies along with other improvements such as new windows and awnings and energy-efficient chiller equipment. The system has with a total system rating of 18 kW electric, and 64.8 kW thermal and is expected to provide almost all of Corner Brewery’s hot water needs and up to 15% of its electricity. It is set to go online later this summer.

According to Greff the project, which took more than two years to complete, was worth every bit of effort.

“It feels really good to know that we were able to make changes that are as good for the environment as they are for the bottom line,” Greff said. “We couldn’t have done it without the expertise and assistance we received from our many partners and we hope to be able to assist other small businesses interested in improving their energy efficiency.”

Arbor Brewing Company is hosting a ribbon-cutting reception to celebrate the launch of its new sustainable energy system 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 11 at the brewpub at 114 E Washington St, Ann Arbor. Corner Brewery is hosting its celebration 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 720 Norris St, Ypsilanti. Both events are free and open to the public.

Kalamazoo Beer Week is Jan. 12-18, 2013.  Click here for more info about what to do in Kalamazoo! Cheers!

Short’s Brewing Co.’s $2 million expansion will nearly double capacity

BELLAIRE, MICH. — Bell’s Brewery. Founders Brewing. New Holland Brewing. Arcadia Brewing. Atwater Brewery. Keweenaw Brewing.

What do these breweries have in common?

In addition to being based in Michigan, they have each recently undertaken or completed expansions to boost production.

Now, you can add Short’s Brewing to that list.

CFO, Scott Newman-Bale, tells BeerPulse that the company will shut down production for part of July so that workers can make a number of critical upgrades to the facility. The highlight of the project will be the installation of sixteen 90-barrel fermenters. The company will also improve efficiency, quality control and make some upgrades on the packaging line.

Once completed, the $2 million project will have nearly doubled working capacity from 16,000 barrels to 30,000 barrels.

As with so many other breweries, expansion can’t come soon enough for Short’s. The brewery is right up against capacity, having brewed nearly 13,000 barrels in 2011 on 56% growth from the year prior (per The Brewers Association).

The expansion, however, will not result in further distribution. “Michigan forever,” Newman-Bale quips.

In beer news, the company just revealed on its Facebook page that Spruce Pilsner should hit shelves next week. “It is already on sale in six-packs at our pub. The 2012 batch yielded about 540 cases and 32 half barrels.”

Before the shutdown takes effect, Strawberry Short’s Cake Golden Ale will also hit shelves.

Once the brewery is back online, Key Lime Pie will return, right on schedule.

Then there is the return of Short’s Peaches and Crème High Gravity Golden Ale, a beer that hasn’t been brewed since 2007 when it was released as part of the Imperial Series. Its return will come in 12 oz. bottles.

The Short’s team also gave a talk at SAVOR earlier this month, which you can listen to on Craft Beer Radio.

Third Annual Kalamazoo Beer Week is Jan. 12-18, 2013.  Click here for more info about what to do in KalamazooCheers!