Well, okay, I can only hope. But my wishful drinking, to borrow a phrase from Carrie Fisher, didn't come out of thin air. Michigan Live reported that Bell's, makers of my and a million other people's favorite wheat beer Oberon, is embarking on a $52 million expansion. They're in 18 states now including almost the entire eastern US and of course the upper Midwest since they're from Kalamazoo, Mich. But they entered a western-ish state this past year--Arizona--which I know is just testing the waters for manifest destiny--California!
When I visited Larry Bell in 2006, he was preparing for a major expansion, one that would see brewing capacity climb to 120,000 barrels. Such production seemed way off. After all, he opened in 1985 using a 15-gallon pot. By 1991, he'd actually surpassed the 1,000-barrel mark. But just last year, Bell's produced an impressive 115,000 barrels. This new expansion will start by bringing in more fermentation tanks and keep 'em on track for planned 20% growth--annually.
So like I said, is it possible that by 2012 we'll be drinking HopSlam IPA or Expedition Stout here in the Golden State? If I were a betting man, I'd say Yes. Of course, that does nothing to get the bottle of Batch 5000 back that I brought into my friends' apartment to chill and share over four years ago after I drove from K'zoo to Chicago but they just stuck it in the back of the fridge. No beer-o-philes they, I fear it was casually gulped as an after-work beer for one of them. Having a fresh supply of Oberon would go a long way to assuage that hurt.