If this is true, it would be very good news for California beer drinkers. Shanken News Daily, a beverage industry trade publication, says that Michigan-based Bell’s Brewing is considering expanding to California, at least to Southern California (which presumably could mean we beer drinkers in northern California might follow some day) after its current expansion to New York state is complete.
Bell’s is a big deal because it produces some excellent and well-regarded beers, particularly its flagship IPA known as Two-Hearted Ale. That beer regularly competes with Russian River’s Pliny the Elder for the top place on the Best Of lists by various beer-related magazines and websites. Bell’s also produces Hopslam, which is, as the name suggests, an astonishingly intense seasonal that has a cult following among hardcore hopheads. But pretty much everything in their lineup is worthy: the Oberon wheat ale and Expedition stout are particularly worth checking out.
Funny thing is, I happened to have talked to founder Larry Bell himself earlier this year for a profile of Lagunitas founder Tony Magee and Larry said he wasn’t thinking of expanding to California. I assured him that we would find his beers a good home if he changed his mind, and now we might have that chance.