Sailing Synergy With Suds

Published on July 28th, 2015

Larry Bell was born and raised in Chicago, and while he still maintains a presence there (and is a diehard Cubs fan), he has an obvious sweet spot in his heart for Pure Michigan.

Considered the patriarch of today’s Michigan craft beer world, Larry launched The Kalamazoo Brewing Company in 1983, which was incorporated as Bell’s Brewery in 2006. Now, the largest brewery in the state (and #8 craft brewery in the country) produces a vast portfolio of beers including its flagship summer beer, Oberon (5.8% abv)—a wheat ale often served with a wedge of orange on the rim of the glass.

That signature beer has become synonymous with the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race, which took place July 18-20 between Port Huron and Mackinac Island, along the waters of Lake Huron. This year’s race was the 91st annual such event, which was first held in 1925 when the Port Huron Yacht Club and Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit teamed up in what is recognized as one of the longest fresh-water races in the world.

“This race is truly Michigan—it is a great celebration of Great Lakes tourism,” says Larry. “We spent two years as the beer sponsor. Then the opportunity came up five years ago to become the title sponsor.”

The Bell’s brand is prominent in all aspects of the race—from the logoed race stickers on every boat, to banners hanging at bars around both Port Huron and Mackinac Island, to hats provided for every crew member on every sail team (this year, 237 boats participated), to t-shirts worn by bartenders and polo shirts worn by race volunteers.

Yet, for Larry it goes beyond the branding of Bell’s Brewery. It fuels a personal passion for the sport. “I’ve been able to do this four out of the past five years,” he says, sailing on the Santa Cruz 70 Details. “It’s exhilarating. It’s a special thing to be out on the water.”

Source: Drink Michigan

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