Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

August 21, 2013

Bell's Brewery rebuilds Stroh barrels in Comstock

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP (AP) — History is being remade at Bell’s Brewery Comstock facility as custom woodworkers reconstruct 100-year-old fermenters once used by Stroh Brewing Co. in Detroit.

Last year, Bell’s obtained the 8-foot-tall wooden barrels, 12-feet in diameter, which were stored away in a Detroit warehouse for more than 50 years. The barrels were built around the turn of the 20th century and used at Stroh’s until the early 1960s, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Bell’s announced plans to display the historical tanks in B Cellar Room of its Comstock Township production facility, specifically designed for the barrels, when unveiling a $20 million expansion project last year.

Bell’s production manager John Mallett said the fermenters will be used to make draught-only beers using an open-fermentation process.

Kalamazoo custom-builder and woodworker Rock Bartley said he began assembling the barrels last week, after about two months of cleaning and refinishing the wood.

“They were an oblong shape, so we took the best pieces from the three to four tanks and we turned them into complete circles,” Bartley said. “That did two things: it made them smaller and left us extra wood.”

The idea to rebuild the barrels stems from a lunch conversation between John Stroh III, whose great-great-grandfather founded Stroh Brewing Co. in Detroit in 1850, and Mallett more than three years ago.

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