Bell’s Brewery looking at U.P. site for new facility

ESCANABA – A downstate brewery that sells specialty beers in the Midwest is considering building a brewery and bottling plant in Escanaba.

The Escanaba City Council has scheduled a special meeting Thursday morning to discuss the possible sale of land to Bell’s Brewery Inc. The company has offered to buy 3.16 acres in the Whitetail Industrial Park for $35,000.

According to a recent letter from Bell’s Brewery President Larry Bell to Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole, the company “intends to construct a manufacturing facility on this site that would employ approximately five people.”

The company would intend to complete construction of the manufacturing facility within 18 months of closing on the property sale, Bell stated in the letter.

City administration is recommending the council approve the land sale with the 18-month construction stipulation.

The proposed use is consistent with the district’s zoning on 19th Avenue North.

Bell’s Brewery director of marketing Laura Bell, Larry Bell’s daughter, said the company’s beers are distributed to several places in the region.

“The Upper Peninsula has a special place in our hearts,” she said, declining to comment on the potential property sale until the deal is finalized with the city.

Examples of Bell’s Brewery brands sold in the local area on draft and bottled include Oberon Ale, Two-Hearted Ale,and Amber Ale, she said.

Bell’s Brewery has been selling beer since the fall of 1985 when ale was made in a 15-gallon soup kettle in Kalamazoo.

The company has expanded to producing 500,000 barrels a year, according to the company’s website.

Laura Bell said just over 200 people are employed by the company, which has a brewery and cafe in Kalamazoo, a distribution center in Galesburg, and a brewery and corporate office in Comstock.

Bell’s Brewery ales are sold in 18 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., she said.