As an unabashed devotee to local suds I tend to not get too excited when out-of-state breweries announce expansion into the SoCal market. These announcements come with increasing frequency, and nine times out of ten I’d rather drink a beer from California. But that ratio is about to get skewed as one of my favorite midwest breweries has just announced distribution to SoCal: Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery will finally be available to LA craft fans in May!
***Update 3*** – After a year of almost-in-LA distribution, Bell’s Brewery will officially send their catalog of brews to Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. See my post on the Daily Dish for more info!
***Update*** – It sounds like Craft Beer Guild Distributing of California is only planning to distribute Bell’s beer in San Diego county. However, I’d imagine the distro area will expand rapidly from there.
Bell’s is the last of the ten-largest craft breweries to be distributed into Southern California. If you’re unfamiliar with Bell’s brews, they are the makers of the midwest’s most lauded limited-release IPA – Hopslam, as well as a superlative summer ale (Oberon) and stout (Expedition Stout), and perhaps the best packaged berliner weisse being brewed in the country (Oarsman). More importantly, Bell’s is home to what I believe to be the very best non-West Coast IPA on the planet – Two Hearted.
I was just in Phoenix over the weekend to visit family and take in a Dodgers spring training game, and I made sure to take advantage of Bell’s Arizona distribution while I was there by attempting to drink my fill of the American IPA. Turns out, that’s really tough to do. Two Hearted is a masterclass in balancing hop aroma and flavor with malty complexity, and they just go down so easy without fatiguing the palate. I dare you to find a more sessionable 7%ABV IPA than Two Hearted.
Bell’s is also one of the few top-10 craft breweries to announce a significant expansion or second brewing facility; could their distribution to SoCal be the first step in a West Coast expansion of their facility? Let’s hope so.
**Update 2*** Some more reporting on the expansion from Brewbound.