Just when I was discussing how it would be almost impossible to top the year in Arkansas beer we’ve had in 2015, along comes an announcement out of the blue that, coupled with the recent news of a new Core brewpub in Argenta and the highly anticipated opening of Rebel Kettle Brewing in Little Rock, makes sure that 2016 is going to give this year a run for the money.
Yesterday, Bell’s Brewery announced via a post on their website that they have begun the process to bring their beer to three new southern states in 2016: Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas. Based in Kalamazoo, Michigan with a second facility in Comstock, they sold their first commercial beer in September 1985, brewing in a 15-gallon soup kettle. Since then the company has increased it’s production of 135 barrels (1 bbl = 31 gal) in 1986, to over 310,000 bbls last year. Based on 2014 sales, Bell’s is now the 7th largest craft brewery in the United States.
My experience with their beers is somewhat limited, having only tried 5 or 6 different beers in their portfolio, but I can surmise from those beers and also their ratings on various beer lover’s websites that they will be very welcome here by the state’s craft beer lovers.
Their Two Hearted Ale is an intensely hoppy yet very drinkable IPA, while I find their Kalamazoo Stout to have delicious huge notes of dark chocolate and coffee balanced well with roasted malts. Those two beers I’ve had plenty of but I’ve enjoyed a few of the bitter palate bruiser HopSlam Imperial IPA, very nice and aptly named Best Brown Ale and wonderfully complex Expedition Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout that clocks in a 10.5% ABV and packs a thick almost chewy mouthfeel with full dark fruit and chocolate flavors. Other popular beers in their line-up include a pale wheat ale called Oberon, Smitten Golden Rye Ale and Amber Ale.
They’ve announced no specific launch dates or details and I’ve not even heard who might be distributing them yet, so I’ve got a hunch that’s still in the works, but you can get your taste-buds ready for another big addition to our beer shelves sometime in 2016.