Bell's Beer Susainability
Larry Bell started a home brew shop in Kalamazoo in 1983 and sold his first beer in 1985. I had my first Bell’s Beer at the Eccentric Café sometime in late 1993 or early 1994. I have reviewed 29 of their beers on Beeradvocate.com. The company is fiercely independent and remains family owned. Larry’s daughter, Laura became CEO in 2017. The Company is also tied to its community and its environmental commitment puts it among the top sustainable North American breweries.
The Comstock brewery began its 8th expansion in 2017 and on google maps you first notice that the brewery roof is white. That is to reflect sunlight and reduce the need for air conditioning. Next you notice something is growing on their warehouse roof – it’s a green roof planted with sedum. The green roof increases the insulation value of the roof, extends the life of the waterproof membrane underneath, and it reduces storm water runoff. Less noticeable from the air are the bike racks and outdoor Fix-it-Station that Bell’s installed for bike riding employees and guests. Bell’s embraces the Adopt a Highway program and three times a year Bell’s employees clean up a stretch of M-96 outside of the Brewery. Spent grain from the brewery goes to a local farmer who feeds it to his dairy cows.
Bell’s has made a major commitment to energy efficiency. They have combined high efficient lighting with reflective light tubes that harvest day light to reduce the need for artificial light. Occupancy controls reduce lighting to unoccupied areas. The brewery uses outside air to cool the cold storage warehouse during the winter. They use a heat exchanger to cool their wort and heat water for new batches of beer. The heat exchanger saves 17 million Btus per day. Bell’s heats their corporate office building with a 16-ton closed loop geothermal field. The hop filed immediately east of the brewery sits on top of an 85-ton geothermal field that controls the temperature of the brewery using glycol filled tubes. Bell’s installed an ammonia based refrigeration system that saves over one million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. They have implemented an energy storage system that stores 3.3 million Btus of heat for future use. Big fans reduce the need for summer time air conditioning and a high efficiency boiler saves and recycles energy for the steam used for process heat in the brewery. Bell’s lights all outdoor areas with LED lights.
Bell’s tracks water use throughout the brewery and a cellar Clean-in-Place system has cut the amount of water used to clean tanks by 65%. Modifications to a vacuum filler pump saves about 2.5 million gallons of water per year. Bell’s Bio-Energy system treats their wastewater, generates electricity, and captures waste heat for use in the brewery. In 2015 the Comstock brewery recycled over 300 tons of material – achieving a landfill diversion rate of 91%.
Bell’s also gives back to communities where they sell their beer through sponsorships and donations.
Find links to reviews of Bell's Beer here: Bell's Beer