Bell's Brewery reverses decision to skip festival in Ypsilanti

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) - A well-known Michigan brewer that had pulled out of a major beer festival because of planned political fundraising at the event has now decided to attend.

Bell's Brewery Inc. earlier decided they wouldn't  participate in this weekend's 16th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti after the brewer's founder and president Larry Bell learned about the Protect Michigan Craft Beer Political Action Committee's plans, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

"I don't want to be part of it," Bell said this earlier week. "I find it distasteful that they are bringing politics into the fest. I have no idea where that money will go. I don't want to be part of trying to raise political money from drunk or slightly intoxicated people."

Protect Michigan Craft Beer is an independent political action committee formed two years ago by Brett VanderKamp, of New Holland Brewing Co., and Tim Suprise, of Arcadia Brewing Co. Suprise said brewers in the state including Bell's will benefit from the PAC.

"The committee intends to raise resources for advocacy so we can have a voice and a seat at the table. I think it's a fairly well-understood part of our state regulatory environment and on the federal level," said Suprise, whose brewery is located in Battle Creek.

Scott Newman-Bale, treasurer of the Michigan Beer Guild and chief financial officer of Short's Brewing Co., said the PAC attended the event last year and Bell received a refund after voicing concerns. The missions of the guild and the PAC are similar but separate, he said.

"The guild's mission is to introduce people to Michigan beer and the PAC is on that direction on the legislative side," Newman-Bale said.

On Friday, Bell's Brewery posted on their Facebook page that they now would be attending the festival.

"We've been in talks with the Guild and have mutually decided to honor our commitment," the post read.

The festival runs Friday and Saturday.

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Online:

http://www.mibeer.com

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, http://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo

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