Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Brewery, Inc.Bell's Brewery, Inc.
BEER AVG
3.81/5
Based on:
117 Beers
79,115 Ratings
Place Score: 96
Ratings: 582
Reviews: 195
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: n/a
Taps: 20
Bottles: 12
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: Y
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]

355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007-3807
United States
phone: (269) 382-2332

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @bellsbrewery

Notes:
Bell's does not sell growlers of their beer at the Eccentric Café & Beergarden.

Bell's does sell growlers at their General Store.

(Place added by: BeerAdvocate)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 582 | Reviews: 195 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Manton1985
1/5  rDev -77%

Photo of SkiBum22
1/5  rDev -77%

Photo of BobZTraveler
1.16/5  rDev -73.3%

Photo of joshshepperd
1.75/5  rDev -59.8%

Photo of Brewstu9923
2/5  rDev -54%

Photo of DbbC
2/5  rDev -54%

Photo of Ccruz20
2.4/5  rDev -44.8%

Photo of funkyaudio
2.7/5  rDev -37.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 2

i had already been a bell's drinker for over a decade before i stepped foot into the cafe a few months ago.

we arrived at dinner time ready to eat and immediately forked over a sizable cover for a band outside that we never had any intention of seeing. our bartender was rude with absolutely no explanation whatsoever-- we were all familiar with the beers but had a question about size and were treated like we were martians.

with no seats available in or outside except for the extremely stuffy attic, we camped out upstairs alone, downed two delicious beers and left.

my entire group was comprised of big bell's fans from across the state and we were all sorely disappointed. the night was saved when we ended up at old peninsula for awesome food and drink a few minutes later thanks to a quick phone call with a friend and western alumni. save yourself the trouble and pick up a six pack instead-- they're really cheap locally.

Photo of Hrodebert
2.75/5  rDev -36.8%

Photo of DrunkMcDermott
2.95/5  rDev -32.2%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 2

I've got to say I was a little disappointed. Having somehow managed to miss trying any Bell's beers, I thought this would be a happenin' place. Of course I did stop by on a Sunday with both playoff baseball and a Lions game on, to a place with no TVs. But it just seemed dead. This is one of those warehouse spaces where the exposed brick just made it feel cold. They only had six Bell's beers on tap, with more in a cooler. The drafts I tried just weren't up to snuff; perhaps it's better to get it bottled and let it condition a while. I wanted to buy some sixpacks from their store, but "the girl was sick." Decor seems too "art student" style. However, I will come back on a warmer day next year and give it another shot.

Photo of AgentZero
3/5  rDev -31%
vibe: 2 | quality: 3 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 4

A - Not enough tables, and none of the furniture or anything is nice. There is an empty stage and just a lot of dead space here. Bar area seems standard enough.

Q - Beer was decent craft beer, food was pretty good.

S - The service was pretty bad. Not enough people to take orders, could only get food/beer at the bar, which lead to long lines and and congestion as the bartenders were not plentiful enough. They didn't take credit cards, so having to cash out every order just made things even slower.

S - Solid selection of their offerings as well as a couple guest brews.

V - $12 bucks for a 6 pour flight was great value. Had a special on the Winter Wit for $2, which is a steal (although not a beer I drink). Prices were good and food was not badly priced either.

Photo of Rons35
3/5  rDev -31%

Photo of sarahspat
3.05/5  rDev -29.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1.5 | selection: 3.5

We went on a Saturday night when they were having a band play... Not the ideal time to visit a brewery for the first time, I realize, so I am going to be more lenient in this review than I may have been immediately following my visit.

First of all, the service was just not up to snuff, even considering that they were extremely busy that night. Ordering was incredibly chaotic. They don't have servers go around and take orders, so you have to go up to the bar every time... which wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that there were a ton of people just standing in front of the bar having conversations with each other and not even ordering. The bartenders, at least in my interactions with them, were inattentive and nonchalant about service. Granted, it was very busy that night, but things could have gone more smoothly with a bit more effort from the staff.

On a more positive note, the decorations were interesting and I really liked that the tables had chessboards on them. The atmosphere was alright; a few of the other patrons were really obnoxious, but most of them seemed cool. For most of the night, it seemed like everyone was packed in like sardines, which was a little uncomfortable.
We had to pay $7 cover for one band and we saw a flyer in the bathroom advertising the same show for $6.

Going in, I had no illusions about the quality of Bell's beer. I had sampled many of their offerings prior to my visit both on tap and bottled. Bell's has always been hit or miss for me. Although, they have some beers that I think are just incredible, like Two Hearted, Hopslam and Third Coast Old Ale. Most of their other beers are mediocre at best.

They wanted to serve everything in plastic cups, even though they did have some glassware. But somehow we managed to get our second beers in snifters, and it was probably the best beer of the night: Überon, a barrel-aged Oberon which weighs in at 10% ABV. A pretty amazing beer which I would definitely recommend. I also tried the Golden Rye, the Black Rye, the Wedding Ale, and the Poolside. The golden was good. It tasted like a good pale ale, but with an added zest from the rye. The black didn't have much flavor, but it wasn't bad. The Wedding Ale was probably the most floral-tasting beer I've ever had. I thought the Poolside was nasty, but my friend liked it.

Bell's perpetrated their biggest offense at closing. My two friends and I were sitting in the upstairs area and we were the only people remaining up there. The bartenders and manager (?) came up 3 or 4 times and told us that we needed to leave. I informed him that we were still finishing our beers (that we paid for!!!) Their tones were incredibly rude and the whole thing was just uncalled for. I don't know if they close the upstairs first, because they never made that clear to us, but at any rate, there were plenty of people still downstairs at that point. Plus, we were sitting on couches. It's not like they would have had to do any extra work (like putting up chairs) by us staying up there. I don't see any reason that they should treat their customers like that.

This visit left a sour taste in my mouth and, to be honest, really changed the way I feel about this company for the worse. The overall impression I took away from it is that Larry Bell cares more about his profit margin than anything else including customer service and the quality of his beers.

But it's not like this was the worst night of my life or anything. We had a lot of fun in spite of everything. I'm just saying, it would have been much better if the staff had tried a little harder and been a little more accommodating.

Photo of Tetano
3.2/5  rDev -26.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 1 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Visited there just this past Sunday. The beer selection was very good as there is a wide variety of Bell's products to sample. They had a few specialty brews on tap so the trip there was some what special, though I must admit that Founder's really treats those who visit with more specialty stuff.

The food was good, however it seemed like an after thought. Only chips are available with your sandwich and they are peppery chips so if you do not like them then tough.

The service on the other hand was terrible. Water served out of igloo coolers with self serve in the corner. No glass outside on the patio and no credit cards excepted, however they have an atm in the lobby that will charge you 2 bucks to use, which Bell's gets the 2 bucks from. That automatically pissed me off. Will I visit again, maybe with my friend who has never gone, otherwise when I visit a brewery it will be Founders first and Three Floyds second.

Photo of crossovert
3.25/5  rDev -25.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

This is just as you get into Kalamazoo from the North.

The parking lot is minute so I had to park on the road.

Inside there is no wait staff for dinin, you have to go up to a window, order, go to the bar and order beer, then go to your table and wait for this buzzer to go off, then go get your food.

The taplist is long with maybe 20 Bell's beers to choose form. There is also a cooler full of bottled Bell's products.

The food was ok, I just had a bar burger, it was average. The atmosphere and quality seemed a bit lacking, but they looked to be doing good business.

The general store is around the corner from the cafe and it has a wide variety of stuff though it is somewhat pricey.

Overall it is not a bad place to stop if you are in Kalamazoo, but nothing special that you would really need to go out of the way for, and no growler fills.

Photo of Wingsman
3.25/5  rDev -25.3%

Photo of PhineasGage
3.33/5  rDev -23.4%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 1 | selection: 5

The cafe is pretty darn cool looking. You can tell they put a lot of thought in the remodel and beer list. Every beer we had was perfect! The food looked okay, but we planned on food dance instead (which is like foodgasmic good) They need to get a better staff...I've had bad service, but this is the new standard. the tour was okay...I thought I set something up with my regional sales manager that'd be more in depth, and full of history. Overall the beer was great, but the service made our 6 hour drive not seem worth it.

Photo of tippebrewcrew2
3.38/5  rDev -22.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

This is a nice brewery. Everything is clean and wooden. Most of the actual beer is not made on site. The food was really good and reasonably priced. Everything is cash only and the atm they have their will only let you take out 40 at a time with a 2-3 dollar service charge (total crap). A lot of used space with an ok vibe. Poor use of the space. The tap list was good with some experimental things up. Good Brews for sure. I think just a few things could be changed and it would become a killer brew to visit. They do have a bells store outside of the brewery with singles and 6ers you can buy there. Pretty cool shop with decent amount of homebrewing stuff there. Cool shop and neat idea.

Photo of raleigh_blue
3.4/5  rDev -21.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Atmosphere: They kick children out at 8PM. There are queues for beer, queues for food and no table service. I'm a Kalamazoo native and at one time I lived at bells. Nowadays, I find it to be a nice place to visit, but only if you are there with other adults. Since I have two kids, this place isn't high on my list. The beer kitch is cool, the stained glass is cool, the beer garden is cool, the wood work is beautiful and yet, it reeks of ruined beer and yeast.

Quality: Bells beer quality is great.

Service: Lousy. No table service, no table food service, no busing.

Selection: Several taps, several not distributed.

Food: It's okay. Had a fajita thing and french dip thing. Not impressed with either. Middling at best, especially compared to it's regional peers (Founders/New Holland).

Value: Value is as expected

Overall: Bells still thinks that it's the only powerhouse brewery in the region. They have a lingering sense of entitlement that is unwarranted at this time. Their competition is passing them by.

Photo of louieb1
3.4/5  rDev -21.8%

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.4/5  rDev -21.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3

Reviewed on 6/22/2010.

Stopped here for lunch and beers on a Monday afternoon. It was a highly anticipated stop given the Bells name but I ended up disappointed. It is situated somewhat separate from the downtown area by the railroad tracks. It was pretty empty when we were there and we easily got seats at the small bar. There were at least 10 beers on tap but most of them were the regular Bells bottled offerings (ie Amber Ale, Porter, Oberon, etc). There were 4 "specialty" tap beers and I tried them all - 1 was pretty good (Wedding Ale) but the other 3 were terrible (Kalamazoo IPA, Smoked Lager, Wheat Love). The food here is not very good and overpriced. A hummus plate was $6.50 and a very basic sandwich with chips was $7. So I'd recommend eating beforehand or after. Overall, I didn't get a good vibe from this place. There are no TVs and it didn't seem like a place you would want to sit and chill at for a long time. If you are in Kalamazoo, I'd recommend hitting up Olde Peninsula first.

Photo of nortmand
3.44/5  rDev -20.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

We stopped in here for a beer on our way out of town. Pretty cool college atmosphere with alot of neat stuff to look at and a pretty cool setup. You had to go to the bar for beer, which was OK, since it wasn't crowded. The selection was also good, with several of Bell's available beers on tap. What chapped my ass was that the beer was served in plastic cups, even though it was pretty slow. Add to this the fact that I'm not a huge fan of Bell's and their quality takes a hit. Overall an OK place that I will visit again if I'm passing through.

Photo of GRG1313
3.45/5  rDev -20.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4

A nice place with better than average beer although a bit limited in quantity presented for tasting. The selection on tap was very modest for a brewery with such a general selection and Bell's "store" was far stocked with trinkets than the beers offered for tasting. Indeed, there were a few brews available only on tap and only at Bell's. However, there was nothing remarkable in any of the beer offered. Certainly a place worth seeing and some beers worth trying. I simply expected a few things that would really be special. All in all worth the drive down from Grand Rapids. Not worth a trip of greater length in my opinion.

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.45/5  rDev -20.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3

I t is kind of hidden behind the store, but I found it nonetheless. I walked into a very open, brick room, with plenty of different art pieces on the wall. Cash only bar, which sucks, because, I hardly carrey cash. The service was ok, but the guy behind the bar basically gave us a cold shoulder the whole time, where as the girl, at least talked to us a bit. I felt very uninvited, and almost felt that I was bothering them for being there. Selection of beers was good, most I have already had, and pretty easy to get. I love Bell's beers, but the Cafe could do some work.

Photo of kbutler1
3.48/5  rDev -20%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 2.5

Popped in while on a roadtrip and grabbed a sampler of beers. Surprisingly they didn't have all of their regular beers on tap. Nothing really special on tap either here with the exception of their Mead. Grabbed some nachos as well. Cool place but as a brewpub it is not the best. Looks like they are planning on re-doing it though so maybe it will get better. I have been here a couple times and you just have to know what to expect if you go there. The food is just ok, there are no servers walking around, and they have special stuff on tap sometimes. The building is really cool though and the stained glass is beautiful.

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Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI
96 out of 100 based on 582 ratings.