An annual rite of spring that Govenor Gretchen Whitmer made an official state holiday in 2022, Bell’s is still doing it big for Oberon Day.
The Current got a guided tour of the Bell’s Comstock Brewery in Galesburg, MI., and that was just the beginning.
The day also included an Oberon-themed and paired five-course meal at the Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, prepared by Executive Chef Kris McDonough, a midnight tapping event at the Green Top Tavern in downtown Kalamazoo and then back to the east side to do the Oberon Pub Crawl in Ann Arbor.
We rode the lightning through a blizzard to get to Kalamazoo and chased the sun and hints of spring at HopCat, Haymaker, Old Town Tavern and tapped out at The Grotto. Fraser’s Pub, Ashley’s and a culminating event at The Circ Bar were stops we just couldn’t power through and hit.
Owner Larry Bell retired from the game in 2021 but Bell’s Comstock Brewery tells the full tale. Bell’s first batch of beer was made in a 15-gallon soup pot which hangs as an enshrined time capsule of Bell’s mission: to make a beer that wasn’t necessarily Budweiser or Miller High Life or an “exotic” import like Heineken (in 1983, there weren’t any other easily sourced options). The first batch would later be known as Bell’s Amber.
The two Bell’s beers you can find readily in any state are Two-Hearted and yes, Oberon. First brewed in 1992 under the name SolSun, what is now known as Oberon is considered a landmark in the craft brew world.
Bell’s strategically releases new batches of Oberon on the first day of spring every year. Larry Bell also wanted it to coincide with MLB Opening Day.
For the yearly drop, you can get dank limited edition varieties like Blood Orange, Peach and Apricot. Each variety having nice fruity overtones on an already citrus-forward brew. You would have to be a Bell’s Oberon Stan and be in Kalamazoo or at the pub crawl on the day of, better luck next year.
Spring can’t get here soon enough, grab an Oberon and some orange slices. Maybe if we drink enough Oberon, the sun gods will finally favor us in 2023.