Illinois drinkers bid farewell to Bell’s beers

The Chicago Tribune (free registration) details the rather complicated reasons that Bell’s Brewery his quit shipping its immensely popular beers from Michigan to Illinois.

A funeral is under way at bars across Chicago.

The deceased is a lovely shade of brownish orange bubbling to a fizzy head in smooth pint glasses.

The pallbearers are the thirsty souls hoisting their last rounds of Bell’s beer, a stalwart on Chicago’s microbrew menu for more than a decade.

The cause of death is a dispute between Bell’s Brewery Inc. and its distributor.

Long and complicated and more about franchise law than you may want to know. It also examines just how loyal some Bell’s fans are – supporting the brewery even though the decision means they’ll have to drive to a nearby state to pick up the beer.

Or visit Bell’s brewery to get a discount.

Bell, who grew up in Park Forest and maintains a condo in Lake View, came up with an idea last week to show solidarity with his Chicago customers. Anyone presenting a valid Illinois identification at the brewery store gets a 15 percent discount on packaged beer.

“I feel bad,” he said. “If they want to come get it and spread it around, I’ll help ’em out.”

He calls it the bootlegger’s special.