Larry Bell honored with inaugural Tom Burns Award by Michigan Brewers Guild

Bell's Brewery Inc.

BurnsAward.jpgBELLAIRE  – Nearly 200 leaders in Michigan’s craft brewing industry were present at the Michigan Brewers Guild annual conference at Shanty Creek Resort in Bellaire last week, where the inaugural Tom Burns Award was presented to Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

The award recognizes the pioneering spirit of the “Great Beer State” and is named after Tom Burns, founder and brewer of Detroit & Mackinac Brewing Co., who passed away from cancer in 1994.

Burns, a “recovering attorney,” had a passion for brewing and is credited with many of the advancements in brewing legislation, rules, and regulations in the 1990s and paving the way for a thriving craft beer industry here in Michigan, which is currently ranked fifth nationally.

Laura Bell, Marketing Director for Bell’s Brewery Inc., accepted the award on behalf of her father, who was out of the country and unable to attend. She read a letter sent from her father, addressed to the group:

“Everyone in this room has been affected by Tom's efforts back in the nineties. His push for, and success at getting brewpub language adopted in the state laws paved the way for what is now one of the most dynamic brewery scenes in the USA. While there may be those today that think that trading away self distribution wasn't right, Tom and I thought we cut a pretty damn good deal, and I still think that.

Tom was able to get legislation enacted because he knew the importance of building consensus, and he knew that it was essential to have dialogue with all of the legislators involved, as well as reaching out openly, and with a eye toward fairness, to Michigan's wholesalers; he respected the realities of the situation while trying to enact change. And enact change he did.

I am glad that we are honoring Tom as I feel that his contributions to the early days of craft brewing are often buried by people who want to take more credit than they deserve. He was one of those people who was there at the dawn of the movement. I have in my collection a bottle of "Legal Lager" that Tom brewed at the Cartwright Brewing Co. in Portland back in the early eighties when, I believe he was in law school. He brewed at the goat shed with Boulder Brewing. And he was in on the start of the then American Homebrewers Association Beer Festival, now the GABF (Great American Beer Festival).

It was heartbreaking to see Tom get sick. Having been through a "mild" cancer myself I have an inkling of the terror it brings to one’s soul. But Tom was always upbeat when I saw him and never became morose, even as his diagnosis got worse.

I was very honored to be asked by Priscilla (Tom's widow) to be the brewer representative pall bearer at Tom's funeral. It was a difficult day for me. To see one's contemporary die too young is a very troubling thing. After the funeral service we went to Tom's Oyster Bar, a place Mr. Burns loved to go, and I stood in for him – singing show tunes with the piano player as a way to pay my respects. Tom loved a good show tune. And a great beer.

Though Tom's life was too short, he left an important legacy that we all can honor and that honors us all. I was proud to call him a friend and I am proud of the Guild for honoring him today. So please, let's raise our glass and toast Tom Burns.” 

To read the full press release, go here.


From left: Larry Bell, Detroit City Councilwoman Maryann Mahaffey, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, and Tom Burns, for whom the Michigan Brewers Guild award was named, at the old Tiger Stadium on July 11, 1991.

Complete list: Bell’s Brewery events for Kalamazoo Beer Week, Jan. 14-21

Bell's Brewery, Inc.

MinutetoWinIt.jpgThe second Kalamazoo Beer Week kicks-off Jan. 14 and runs through Jan. 21. More than 90 events are scheduled throughout the week. Here is a list of Bell's events at the Eccentric Café as well as a few other locations in Kalamazoo.

Jan. 14

Brewery tours: Start Kalamazoo Beer Week with a free tour of our original brewery in downtown Kalamazoo. More details about our weekend tours can be found here.

Jan. 15

Aged beers and smoked meats: Join us for a tasting of selected aged beers and meats from our house smoker all day.

Brewery tours: We have added two additional tours of our original brewery at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., in addition to our regularly scheduled tours at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 16

Beer and cheese throw down: Bell’s will kick-off this four night event at Food Dance in downtown Kalamazoo with three beers paired with three different cheeses. What did we choose? You’ll have to stop by and vote for your favorite. More details can be found here.

333132_204545126293845_199350326813325_465276_256651186_o.jpgJan. 17

Movies and Bell’s beer: Relax in front of the big screen with showings of “Strange Brew” and “Beerfest,” plus a special keg of Bell’s beer starting at 7 p.m.

Jan. 18

Learn to homebrew: In honor of Bell’s flagship beer, the General Store’s homebrew experts, David Curtis and Ryan Kramer, will brew five gallons of amber ale. They will guide you through the entire process and answer all of your questions. This demonstration will start at 6 p.m. All skill levels are welcome for this casual event.

Minute to Win It at Shakespeare’s Pub: At 9 p.m., we’ll kick-off five rounds of 60-second games and beer related trivia along with five featured Bell’s beers including a special keg of Golden Rye. For more information, go here. Take a look at photos from our previous "Minute" event here.

Jan. 19

Bell’s beer dinner: The Park Club of Kalamazoo will open its doors for this special event hosted by our very own, Laura Bell. Reservations are required and space is limited. Social hour is at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. Call 269-381-0876 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            269-381-0876      end_of_the_skype_highlighting for more information.

Bell’s throwback night: Back in the day, ping pong was the company sport and rounds of passionate, intense play were a fixture in what is now the Café’s mezzanine.  We’re bringing it back starting at 6 p.m.  We’re also going to throw “Balls of Fury” up on the screen for inspiration along with a repeat screening of “Strange Brew.”

Also: Wear your favorite Bell’s t-shirt and get a $1 off your beer – game point.

Jan. 20

UPDATED TIME - Beer tasting at Salut Fine Wine & Spirits: Sample Bell’s beers and food and ask questions from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

At the Café: Big Dudee Roo will perform at 9:30 p.m.

Jan. 21

Chili cook-off: The Eccentric Café will be an official stop on this year's Big Chill Chili Cook Off. Stop by and see what eccentric creation our kitchen has come up with. And don’t forget to vote! For more on the cook-off, go here.

Brewery tours: You can also tour our original brewery at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

At the Cafe: The Verve Pipe will perform in the Back Room at 9:30 p.m.

Photo caption: File photo from our previous Minute to Win It event at Shakespeare's Pub.

Ode to Hopslam: These craft beer poets were inspired by Bell’s seasonal DIPA

Bell's Brewery Inc.

HopSlam_GlassBtl.pngOn Monday, our very own David Munro, with help from beer writer David Bardallis, picked three Hopslam poets to win one of the very first pours of our seasonal rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style for 2012 at Ashley’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

More than 30 entries were submitted, some prewritten, others crafted on napkins and coasters in the hour leading up to the judging deadline.

Here are the top three followed by a few of the many that also came to us via our social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and Google+).


(If you feel inspired to put pen to paper, we would love to take a look. Email your prose here.)

hopslammed! damn... I am!
thanks, ma'am, or sir, as it were
bright hop profusion
sweet honey soothes, so divine
two grand peers entwine
what a lovely afterglow

- Fran Hull (first place)

Those tart hoppy notes
Tickle the back of my throat
Big smile on my face

The high gravity
Alcohol fruit fantasy
Gotta buy a case

- David Mickey-Pabello (second place - Hopslam brew double haiku)

Oh bountiful hops
A delight in bitterness

- Karla Metzger (third place)

There is a brewer named Bell.
Who makes great beers really swell
When he got in a jam
He created Hopslam
And now the world is all well.

- Roy More, via Facebook

Pop the Hopslam top, into my gullet she flows, shoulda bought a case.

- Michael Troutwine, via Facebook

Slammed Full Of Hops
Malt, Grain, Yeast and lots of Love
Hop Heads Rejoice Now!

- J. Chandler Hall, via Google+

Looking for Hopslam in your area? Here are a few events to get you started on our blog (updated as we get them). You can also consult our Beer Finder.

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