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


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