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Kalamazoo-brew: Larry Bell has built his Kalamazoo Brewing Co. on a foundation of good beer and loyal customers.

Larry Bell Larry Bell may refer to one of the following:
  • Lawrence Dale "Larry" Bell (1894 - 1956), American industrialist and founder of Bell Aircraft Corporation.
  • Larry Bell, contemporary artist based in Los Angeles, California and Taos, New Mexico.
 has been brewing in Kalamazoo, Michigan “Kalamazoo” redirects here. For other uses, see Kalamazoo (disambiguation).
Kalamazoo is the largest city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 77,145.
, from the very beginnings of the microbrewing renaissance, beginning construction of his first brewery in December 1984, and brewing commercially by late 1985. In those days, Midwestern micros were few and far between, and Larry started small.

So small, in fact, that for the first few years his brewery was centered around the 15-gallon soup pot that served as his brewkettle. "We brewed for five years using industrial soup pots," Bell recalls, "and we managed to do about 5000 barrels one year."

That makeshift brewhouse Brew´house`

n. 1. A house or building appropriated to brewing; a brewery.
 is long gone, sold to a small brewpub brew·pub  
1. See microbrewery.

2. A saloon where the owners make their own beer and serve it on the premises.

Noun 1.
 elsewhere in the Midwest, and today's Kalamazoo Brewing Co. is a thoroughly industrial outfit, with two large brewhouses going round the clock, a well-equipped lab and shipments of over 15,000 barrels in 1996.

Two brewhouses? Yep. Kalamazoo's 15-bbl DME (Distributed Management Environment) A network monitoring and control protocol defined by the Open Software Foundation (now The Open Group). DME was not widely used.

DME - Distributed Management Environment
 brewhouse produces beer destined des·tine  
tr.v. des·tined, des·tin·ing, des·tines
1. To determine beforehand; preordain: a foolish scheme destined to fail; a film destined to become a classic.

 for the bottling line “Bottling” redirects here. For the act of abuse at concerts, see Bottling (concert abuse).
Bottling lines are production lines that fill a product, generally a beverage, into bottles on a large scale.
, and a newer 30-bbl. DME system handles draught beer production. As it stands, 60% of Kalamazoo's production is draught, and 40% in bottles.

"We'll probably maintain two breweries indefinitely," Bell says. "For all the investment we put into it, we wouldn't get much for a used 15-bbl brewhouse. It's installed, it's here, might as well keep it going."

The company has collected quite a few fermenters as it's grown, most fabricated by Viatec of Charleroi, MI. "Viatec does a lot of food and pharmaceutical work," Bell says, "and they make stainless steel stainless steel: see steel.
stainless steel

Any of a family of alloy steels usually containing 10–30% chromium. The presence of chromium, together with low carbon content, gives remarkable resistance to corrosion and heat.
 vessels of very high quality."

The brewery and the on-premise Eccentric pub are located in a collection of 19th century buildings in a post-industrial section of Kalamazoo, including a one-time railroad roundhouse for the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, built in 1873. Although the roundhouse now stands empty, eventually it will hold additional storage space and coolers for the brewery.

Improvements are ongoing at Kalamazoo. The company's primary malt supplier, the Briess Malting Co., is helping finance a new malt storage silo This article is about Storage Silos. For other types of silos, see Silo.

Storage silos are structures for storing bulk materials. Silos are used in agriculture to store grain (see grain elevators) or fermented feed known as silage.
, and a new mill will soon be installed to process the grain.

Kalamazoo's on-premise outlet, the aforementioned and aptly named Eccentric Pub, is not one of your shiny brass-railed Men's-Bar-at-the-Waldorf kind of pubs, but a unpretentious bare-walled taproom for people who like good beer. The pub attracts a loyal crowd every night, drinking an eclectic mix of Bell's products, most of them strong, flavorful ales. The company is especially noteworthy for its wide range of characterful stouts - Bell's Cherry Stout, Special Double-Cream Stout, Kalamazoo Stout, and Expedition Stout - and the robust Third Coast Old Ale, the last two both rated three stars by beer critic Michael Jackson.

The little pub will soon provide more than just malt beverages to its customers, with an expansion to include limited food offerings in the works. "Our primary focus will stay on the beer," says pub manager Fred Crudder, "but we'll have hot stuff and sandwiches, something good to put our name on. We'll do some fun stuff, some unique stuff." Kalamazoo has also added a new beer garden out back, complete with a budding grove of hops that will soon wend Wend

Any member of a group of Slavic tribes that by the 5th century AD had settled in the area between the Oder and Elbe rivers in what is now eastern Germany. They occupied the eastern borders of the domain of the Franks and other Germanic peoples.
 their way up an expansive pergola pergola

Garden walk or terrace typically formed by two rows of columns or posts roofed with an open framework of beams and cross rafters over which plants are trained. Its purpose is to provide a foundation on which climbing plants can be viewed and to give shade.

For off-premise sales, Kalamazoo's distributes through a mix of wine and beer outfits. "We have quite a few beer wholesalers," Bell notes, "although our top two or three distributors are wine houses. We are now an allied member of the Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers. It's a very strong association, and we've realized that if we want to pass a bill in this state we've got to work with them on it."

Bell sees tough times ahead for the small brewery segment, given clogged distribution and retail channels and the continued flood of new breweries. "The shakeout is here," he says, "and it's starting now. The public has been overwhelmed with choice. It's getting easier just to grab a Bud and say the hell with it. I see the brewers that decided to go to the 100,000 barrel level are having to discount, but A-B A-B Air-Britain (UK-based aviation historical society)
A-B Research Centre Applied Biocatalysis (Graz, Austria) 
, Miller and Coors know how to play that game, and I think they'll be the winners."

And as for Kalamazoo Brewing? "We'll try to get up to a nice stable 30,000 barrel level," Bell says. "There are some good economies of scale at that point, and we'll try and make some decent money and still have some fun."
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Author:Reid, Peter V.K.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 12, 1997
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