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Summer Beer Fest gets under way; Bell's brings flavor

Tom Gromak
The Detroit News

Right out of the gate — or right inside it — at the Michigan Brewers’ Guild Summer Beer Festival, Bell’s Brewing is bringing some interesting twists on two of its classic beers.

Bell's Brewing workers dispense beer samples Friday afternoon at the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Beer Festival in Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.

The annual festival got under way at 4 p.m. in Ypsilanti’s Riverside Park for VIPs and its enthusiast club members. General admission festival-goers get entry at 5. Tickets are still available for tonight’s festivities. Saturday is sold out. An estimably 12,000 are expected to attend over the two days, tasting more than a thousand beers from more than a hundred Michigan brewers.

(Note: This post was corrected to indicated that Bell's is based in Comstock, where its production facilities have been located since 2002. Bell's does operate a pub and cafe in Kalamazoo.)

Conveniently, one of the first tasting tents after entry is Comstock-based Bell’s where, among their many offerings, they’re pouring a Mango Habanero Oberon, a slightly fruity, warm-on-the-throat take on the pale ale many in Michigan regard as ‘summertime in a glass.’ The mango takes the place of the orange you’d ordinarily toss into the glass, providing a hint of sweetness up front. The habanero creates a sensation between a slight burn and gentle heat in the finish.

If you like peppery beers, you have to try it. If you don’t, you might move along.

One other choice is Double Two Hearted Ale. Standard Two Hearted is an IPA and another classic, one that frequently makes lists of the best IPAs in the country and even the world. Double Two Hearted, and Imperial Double IPA, kicks up all the hoppy flavor and intensifies the floral notes in the beer. It, too, is not for the faint of heart. It clocks in at 11.5% ABV (alcohol by volume. But it’s a tasty treat on a hot July day.

No one from Bell’s was available to talk about the variants, but they’re worth a stop on your way in.

First Draft will bring you more flavors and more news as the day goes on.