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Larry Bell reflects on three decades of Michigan’s “big, bold, beautiful beers”

Beers at Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.
Beers at Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.

Listen to this interview.

In the early 1980s, Larry Bell worked at Sarkozy Bakery in Kalamazoo. There he became interested in grains and yeast, and began experimenting with beers in his basement.

“My home brewing was getting a little out of control,” Bell said.

Bell, founder and president of Bell’s Brewery, pioneered Michigan’s reputation for making some of the nation’s boldest brews.

In 1985, he opened Bell’s Brewery, the first Kalamazoo brewery since Prohibition.

Bell’s Brewery and other craft beer companies, like Founders Brewing Co. and Short’s Brewing Company, helped elevate the status of Michigan beers outside the state.

Over time, “Michigan gets this great reputation for having big, bold, beautiful beers,” Bell said.

According to Bell, the craft scene is changing; large corporations have bought up smaller operations.

“Things may not be quite as collaborative and groovy as they were even ten years ago,” Bell said.

To hear more of Bell’s story, listen to the full interview above.

*Stateside originally aired this story on March 1, 2017.

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