Some Background on Bell’s Brewing’s Christmas Ale

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Every year, Bell’s Brewing releases Christmas Ale, a specialty beer for the holidays that highlights Michigan agriculture and fresh ingredients.

“For us, it’s really a story about ownership of the raw materials,” said Bell’s Director of Operations John Mallett. “The full circle of land to barley, malt, to wort and finally to enjoyment.”

Christmas Ale is made with 100 percent Michigan barley grown on Bell’s farm in Shepherd, Michigan, between Lansing and Mt. Pleasant. It is then specially malted into pale, caramel and flaked barley by Briess Malt & Ingredients Company.

“In early spring when we’re all gearing up for Oberon season, we have a couple of dedicated farmers who are already starting to think about Christmas Ale,” said Ed Ruble, beer production manager.

By the time harvest and malting is done, its around the time that Christmas Ales come out.

“We thought this would be a really fun play to do a fresh, local, seasonal, ‘this year’ beer,” Mallet said.

The hops blend includes Chinook from Hop Head Farms in Hickory Corners, 16 miles north from our brewery in Comstock.

The rest of Christmas includes ingredients found in the most all our beers: water from Kalamazoo and Bell’s house ale yeast. A lot of the unique flavors come from the combination of the unique fermentation and light dry hopping. Unlike other holiday beers, Christmas Ale does not include spices. The dry, toasted notes and subtle toffee flavors come from the barley. Christmas Ale is 5.5% abv.

“Why brew a beer with a focus on Michigan ingredients?m” Mallet said. “For me as a brewer, I look to the fact we’re really linked with the agronomic cycle. It’s great to bring that close, to have that connection. For me, that’s the brewer’s art, putting it all together.”

Bell’s has put together a video series that highlights the journey from farm to glass. Pour a glass of Christmas Ale and enjoy a beer that is distinctly Michigan.

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