Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brewery Review: Humble beginnings for Kissell Brewing

Written by  Jon Jefferson
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Brewery Review: Humble beginnings for Kissell Brewing

Brewing startups take many forms. The most common being a pretty shiny place with a happening pub. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes a new brewery will take a bit more humble approach. When you look at the history of breweries in Michigan you will find that the biggest brewery in Michigan took that approach. Bell’s started as a home brew shop and throughhard work and a bit of luck (face it luck is always important and sometimes you have to make your own), but this isn’t who we are talking about right now.
Brewery Review: Humble beginnings for Kissell Brewing The question you are probably asking right now is why I am even bringing up Bell’s. Theobvious reason would be the proximity that Kissell Brewing Company is to the production facility for Bell’s; in the grand scheme this really isn’t a big deal. The more interesting similarityis the beginnings. Kissell Brewing has started as a home brew shop first.

The road that Fred Kissell (owner and brewmaster) has travelled to end up here has had its twists and turns. He began fermenting beverages in the 60s (wine making has been legal for far longer than home brewing has). Even though he had thought in the past about moving into professionally making wine or beer, it seemed fate took him in different directions (at one point even becoming a mortician). It would seem that an interesting background can give you some interesting beers.

Brewery Review: Humble beginnings for Kissell Brewing Just like you will find in any other brewery, Kissell is in a state of constant expansion. They started out on a half barrel system and have now moved up to a barrel and a half (a true nano brewery). Something present in the brewery that you don’t always find at this level, Kissell hasthe makings of a yeast lab. This is an advantage that having a science background brings to the table. Even at this level the yeast is the hardest worker in the brew house.

I recently sampled their End of the World strong amber ale (6%, 38 IBU). This beer show cases some specially smoked caramel malts. In a way it’s a one up to the hop heads out there. The smoke comes across the malty back bone to say “How you doin’?” On a side note, in true beer geekitude, all of their beers are bottle conditioned.

When you make the pilgrimage to the brewery, understand that it is simply that, a brewery.They do not have a tasting room (although they do have the home brew shop and you can purchase beer for take-out). As it stands right now, the only place you can purchase the beers in Kalamazoo are at the brewery, but they are available at a few places around Grand Rapids.

I do believe that it is now time for a pint…

Jon Jefferson

Jon Jefferson

Having graduated from both Grand Rapids Community College (Associate of Science: CulinaryArts) and then Davenport University (BBA), Jon Jefferson has been working within the restaurant industry for roughly eight years. The last restaurant was Epic Bistro/ Central City TapHouse in Kalamazoo Michigan. In 2008 he started a journey, exploring the world of beer through brewing. It was through a desire to share his homebrewing and beer related adventures that the blog 10th Day Brewing was born. He lives in Galesburg, Michigan with his wife Joanna and daughters Chelsea and Maggie.