COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Ahead of its 36th anniversary on Sunday, Bell’s Brewery is ringing in a couple new brews just in time.
“It’s really something the whole brewery can celebrate because so many entities are involved in it,” said Andy Farrell, who serves as the brewing innovation manager. “We continue to look for other opportunities, other varieties, other beers and drive on things.”
One venture they are kicking into a higher gear is their Sideyard Ale series, featuring concoctions brewed with hops grown in the side yard of the Comstock Township facility.
Its flagship beer, the Fresh Hopped New England IPA, is returning for a fourth year with a couple of newcomers. The two new beers are brewed from and named after two different types of hops: Sideyard Triumph and Sideyard Crystal. All three are picked, processed, and brewed at different times of the seasonal harvest.
“They’ll work on that area of the yard and pick those hops when they’re ready. Then, we move them into the brewhouse and brew with them,” Farrell explained. “When the harvest comes around, you have a very short window to grab hops and coax unique, delicate flavors out of the hops that change and are different after hop processing,” Farrell said.
Farrell explains this is not about cost efficiency or creating a self-sustaining supply of hops. He says it is simply a passion project for the entire staff that further explores the ingredient’s complex growth cycle.
“You really need to brew the beers almost in like a succession or particular order to highlight a different variety,” Farrell said.
John Mallet, the brewery’s vice president of operations, explains timing is everything since the lineup features at least three different types of hops and different flavor profiles.
“Over time as that hop matures, the content of the oils is going to change,” Mallet explained. “There is this absolute curve of aroma that gets developed over time in the hops. The key for us is when in the cycle do we want to pick it.”
In fact, the original announcement was scheduled for the first week of September, but staff had to delay it for a couple of weeks since the hops were not ripe yet.
The earliest of the two new releases, the Sideyard Triumph, will be released Sept. 30 exclusively at its downtown Kalamazoo cafe and general store.
The same applies to Sideyard Crystal, but patrons won’t be able to taste it until Oct. 15. Fresh Hopped New England IPA will be available outside Michigan at select stores for the first time in its existence.