Special hours this week for the Eccentric Cafe, General Store and Comstock Brewery; here's why

Josh Smith | Bell's Brewery

IMG_0028.JPGBoth the Bell’s General Store and Eccentric Café will be closed until 5 p.m. on Sept. 25. Tours at our Comstock Brewery will also not be offered Sept. 24-26.

Why are we opening so late on a weekday and not offering museum hours?

Once a year our brewery shuts down and every employee, currently more than 280, participates in an event we call Skills Week.

While we do use the time to schedule regular maintenance at both of our breweries, work that usually cannot be done while we are brewing, packaging, etc., the primary focus is continued training and education for our entire staff.

Everyone, from the brew staff to sales to housekeeping, gathers together to talk about what the past year has been like for the company as well as what’s ahead.

Time is also spent polishing up on best safety practices, learning about new initiatives in our Quality Department as well as about how other departments operate day to day. There is also a variety of smaller, more hands on sessions that focus on everything from designing food and beer pairings to the ins and outs of firkins to learning more about the work our Packaging Department does to ensure every beer is up to our quality standards before it gets to your glass.

Of course there is also the social aspect – meeting new people (those who have just been hired as well as those who work different shifts), getting a chance to catch up with those who work outside of Kalamazoo and have a beer with co-workers while enjoying a game of ping pong (a Bell’s tradition) or taking the stage for a little karaoke (another Bell’s tradition).

One of the new additions to the Skills Week lineup this year is an employee homebrew competition.

Similar to our annual Homebrew Competition that we kick-off every September, groups are formed based on experience ranging from novice to expert. Most are put into groups of people they may not normally interact with on a day to day basis. From there, each team develops their own unique recipe, brews it and packages it as a team. A team of judges assembled from a variety of departments will then choose the best of the best.

There is a lot that happens during Skills Week, but really, it’s about coming together as a family and making sure everyone has what they need to continue to provide the quality you expect.

Video and photo gallery: 5th Annual Bell's Homebrew Competition Kick-off

Josh Smith | Bell's Brewery

205 homebrewers, their families and friends plus quite a few local companies joined us at this year's competition kick-off and expo.

Entry bottles are due to the General Store by Oct. 25. Winners will be announced on All Stouts Day at the Eccentric Cafe on Nov. 2.

Below are the photos we took along with a time lapse of the actual wort giveaway. Thanks to everyone who joined. Looking forward to seeing (and tasting) the entries this year!

UP Craft Beer Week: Bell's events and tap list for UP Fall Beer Fest in Marquette

Josh Smith | Bell's Brewery

2014_UPBF_OnSaleNow-banner.jpgUP Craft Beer Week kicks-off on Sept. 2!

We have 6 events planned throughout the week with multi-tap events, a craft beer cruise and a special appearance by Mars: The Bringer of War, the first release in our Planets Series.

It all kicks-off with a beer and cheese tasting at White’s Party Store in Marquette.

We’ll finish out the week at the 6th Annual U.P. Fall Beer Fest at Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

Here is our tap list:

Amber Ale
The Oracle - Double IPA
Two Hearted Ale
Black Note
Hopsoulution - Double IPA
Wedding Ale
Oarsman Ale
Debs’ Red Ale
Best Brown Ale

Take a look at all of our event details here.

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