Bell’s Brewery got its start in Kalamazoo, Mich., grew into Comstock, Mich., and now it is ready to brew in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula — with a brand new division.
Larry Bell, founder and president of Bell’s Brewery Inc., met with the Escanaba City Council in a special session to discuss and approve the purchase of a 3.16 acre lot in the city’s Whitetail Industrial Park that will be the future home of Upper Hand Brewery, a division of Bell’s Brewery Inc., where a variety of beers will be brewed and bottled for distribution across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as adjacent northern states.
This project is part of a company-wide $15 million capital improvement investment and will employ five people. The cost of construction and equipment is estimated at $2.5 million and will take about 18 months to complete.
Bell said he was drawn to the Escanaba area based on its central location and the cooperation from local government and business leaders. He visited the area in March to tour possible construction sites.
“Escanaba has all the resources anyone opening a business would want to have. I see a lot of potential for continued development. It’s a good place for Bell’s to be,” he said.
Local contractors and suppliers will be used to construct the brewery and new recipes have already been brewed at Bell’s original brewery and served at the adjacent Bell’s Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo.
Vicki Schwab, Delta County economic development director, started working with Bell last year, providing information about the community and possible building sites.
“Brewing beer is part of Escanaba’s proud history, and Bell’s Brewery is part of our future. We couldn’t agree more with Larry about the potential he sees in our community. This is a true collaborative partnership,” Schwab said.
“A craft brewery of Bell’s caliber will not only be a great asset to the city of Escanaba, it will further aid in diversifying our regional manufacturing base,” said Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole.
This investment in Escanaba means a brighter future for the Central Upper Peninsula, said State Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba.
“This represents good, solid growth for our area. Larry is willing to invest in our community. He’s going to be here for the long haul,” Casperson said.
Bell’s beers are available at many locations throughout the Upper Peninsula and are distributed locally by Pike’s Distributing.
In addition to this news, Bell’s is bringing the look and feel of the Eccentric Café in downtown Kalamazoo to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. While the beer list is still being determined, a selection of year round, seasonal and specialty Bell’s beers will be offered along with a food menu that will focus on local ingredients and reflect the taste of the Eccentric Cafe.
The new Bell’s Bar will be located in the airport’s pre-security area, currently Home Turf, so visitors will be able to visit without purchasing a ticket. There is a tentative opening scheduled for late summer.