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.
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…