Bell’s Brewery project taking shape

ESCANABA – The Bell’s Brewery building being constructed in Escanaba is taking shape since construction began more than a month ago on the site.

Construction on the Upper Hand Brewery began in early November on the five-acre parcel in the Renaissance Zone at the Delta County Airport. Cost of the project is $1.6 million.

The shape of the building can be seen with the steel stud walls and exterior block. Block work continues to be done in the cold weather inside a heated area enclosed by plastic sheeting.

Roof framing is being installed this week, said Kim Johnson, site superintendent for Gunlach Champion, the general contractor.

“Once the building is closed in, we’ll throw some heat in it and take it from there,” Johnson said, noting that work will continue inside the structure through the winter.

“We’re looking at the first week in June to complete the building,” he said, adding the project is going along as planned.

Bell’s Brewery President Larry Bell agreed construction of the beer-brewing and bottling company is on schedule at this point.

“Everything seems to be moving along well on the construction as well as with our equipment purchasing,” he said in a telephone interview last week.

Bell added the licensing process is underway for the new business. He also said he expects interviews to begin next month.

Bell’s employs more than 200 people downstate at a brewery and pub in Kalamazoo, a distribution center in Galesburg, and a brewery and corporate office in Comstock. The U.P. plant is expected to employ five people.

The local project includes a 72-foot-by-126-foot building with a sampling room and a 26-foot-by-40-foot loading dock. The Escanaba brewery will manufacture and distribute beer but will not sell beer directly to the public.

In addition to the Escanaba project, the company is investing $15 million in its main brewery downstate including a new fermentation cellar, new refrigeration space, and a wastewater treatment facility. Work is also being done at the company’s office building and pub.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,