Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Active Beers: 136
Beer Ratings: 67,818
Beer Avg: 3.83
Taps: 20 / Bottles: 12
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 380 | Reviews: 185 | Display Reviews Only:
4.2/5 rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
Another perfectly timed excursion. (Evil) Davo wanted the 6 AM flight out of LaGuardia but I talked him into the 7:30, then retrieval of luggage, a short bus to the rental car lot, and an hour and change on the highway heading West, landing us at Bells pretty much right when we were supposed to be there. A short two hour tour (we got the abridged version because we're beer people) of an absolutely incredible brewery left me hankering to sample the wares...
A little ways away can be found the Eccentric Cafe, unassuming and easy to miss if you didn't know what you were looking for. It's a two room deal split by the remnants of a roll down door. The bar side holds a 7 seat straight bar and a handful of tables. To the front is a perch with a half dozen tables and a couch overlooking the rooms. The other room has a stage platform for bands against the large windows to the rear, and a half dozen checkerboard patterned tables riddled about. Big brick walls with wood slat lower trim, 20 foot high ceilings, alternating burgundy, gray & maroon slate floors, duct work and ceiling fans, drop & spot lighting, a few large and a few small stained glass window panels. Tapestries, a 48 star flag, a map, framed Bells posters & prints, painting, wood sculpture pieces mounted and placed in some corners, framed butterfly and insect displays.
Behind the bar, a blackboard listing the tap selections, a smaller "Bells bottles" board, and a small cooler with sodas and teas. Bar towels, tribal masks, a map of Africa, a Bells label display, trophies, old beer ads, and a fishtank in the corner.
11 taps a-happenin', served in 12 ounce glasses (for as little as $2), 16 ounce plastic cups, and 20 ounce imperial pints. The Cherry Wheat was deeply sweet, the Oberon Ale just fantastic on tap, the Two Hearted Ale wonderfully, amazingly hoppy, the Oatmeal Stout rich & smooth, the Hell Hath No Fury (Belgian double) a deep color, nicely toffee, with an alcohol aroma, the Java Stout (one of my favorites) was perfectly all espresso, the Cyser strangely apple & honey, the Old Ale real damn good as well.
Interesting food scene. You place your food order through a small window to the front and then you pay the bartender when you go collect your food. Mostly sandwiches, salads, and other snacks, I did a cheddar bacon Angus burger on an onion bun.
Out back or out front or I don't know where you'd call it but it's outside, they've got a beer garden, cement & good brick work with keg ashtrays and around the bend a large courtyard with a gazebo, a bandshell, tables and awnings. Lots of room to move around out there. Great beer, tunes, and let me go grab a smoke from the shop in the back. Don't get much better than this.
09-10-2005 03:53:27 | More by slander
4/5 rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Stopped at the Eccentric Cafe & General Store today. The vibe at the cafe was different, families and special interest groups were holding court, people of all shapes & sizes.
Had a snifter of Uberon (barrel aged Oberon), which was pretty interesting. There seemed to be a good selection of pub-only exclusives, plus their regular stuff in bottles. Service was quick and attentive on a sunday afternoon. The outdoor garden was a really cool place, a roofed wooden lattice held mature hop bines with large leaves swaying in the breeze. There was a tapbox out there, pouring 4 standards, although it wasn't in use at the time. There was also an amphitheater stage for live music.
Indoors, lots of breweriana, naturalist ephemera, tribal masks, etc. The bathrooms were located near the entrance in a tiled hall, and reminded me of being in a park fieldhouse (could have been cleaner).
Remember CASH only, ATM on-site.
06-09-2008 03:10:33 | More by emerge077
4.1/5 rDev -4.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
I agree with the laast reviewer, WOW, what a great place! Bells clearly runs the show in southwest Michigan, they turn out tons of fine beer, they give back to the community and they obviously have fun doing it. Gotta love a place that has live Grateful Dead playing when you walk in. 12 selections on tap, one cask, bottles to drink or to go available. I enjoyed a nice BBQ tofu sandwedge with mango salsa...eccentric, fun place, nice wood bar in the large front area, great, funky, large outdoor area around back, gift shop/general store with more then a few bottle selections, assorted merchandise and home brew supplies in the front. Just go if you are in the area. You likely will have alot of fun, drink great beer and enjoy tasty food treats. Great athmosphere and they even make a sour beer...
08-13-2008 01:48:22 | More by Billolick
4.03/5 rDev -6.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $
The famous Bell’s! Finally… We stumbled in here after visiting Olde Peninsula and the Beer Exchange. Bell’s is quite a big complex, with a factory, bar, store and an ample patio.
Surprisingly empty on a Thursday night, as opposed to the busy Beer Exchange and Shakespeare Pub.
The bar itself is rather expansive, with high ceilings, lots of tables, wood everywhere and a cozy atmosphere. Chill, nice.
Quick service at the bar and free tastings! No surprises on tap, despite a couple of pub-only brews: Experimental Hop 2014 1+2 (Black IPA+Session Red), Bull in a China Shop (a barleywine with hops), Consecrator, Baltic Porter, Berry Ale, Larry’s Latest Lager Trial, Smitten Ale, Larry’s Latest Pale Ale, Larry’s Latest Bock Trial, Expedition, Double Cream.
Don’t get me wrong, those are cool brewery-exclusive beers, but I guess I was hoping for special stuff like barrel-aged releases so I wasn’t enormously impressed by all those experimental lagers and black IPA’s.
Prices ain’t bad: nine dollars for 12 ounces of Expedition, 10 ounces of Two Hearted and a bunch of free tastings… 21 taps total and one firkin (Two Hearted).
Bell’s is cool, we had a good time, but… I don’t know, I don’t feel an urge to revisit again.
05-29-2014 03:23:04 | More by DoubleSimcoe
3.84/5 rDev -10.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
An ordinary town, although some eccentric names of stores. A retail store with many of the regular classics. The bar itself is fine as long as you get here before 4 pm, when people must line up to get beer. A great patio, but you carry beer, in big plastic cups over. A good selection of beers on tap, although I was not crazy about the carbonation, which was Enoz salty. Some of the classics, I think, are better in the bottle. Pretty friendly though. Bartendress went through some training. I would like more details about the beers in the literature available to us.
I was expecting more.
08-07-2009 01:51:37 | More by Sammy
4.29/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
At long last I've made the trek to Bell's Eccentric Cafe. First off, I'm gonna say that I'm a huge fan of Bell's and have been for years, so my opinion of the brewery cafe may seem biased. But in all honesty this is just about the perfect brewpub for me, it just felt so inviting and accomodating.
The building has all brick walls inside and out, all kinds of funky crap stuck to it, such as a smashed piano, a Dr. Seuss-like creature with long antelopes, old mechanical contraptions looking to be dated from the 1800's, etc. And cool artwork.
There were about 10-12 taps, all the standard favorites plus a few small batch beers. If you're here it's because you like Bell's beers, and obviously you can't go wrong with most of their choices.
Next door there's a cool Bell's shop selling shirts, glasses, homebrew supplies, bottled beer, and more. The prices on the beers were really good but the prices on other merchandise seemed quite high. Stick to the basics is my rule of thumb.
11-24-2009 23:31:52 | More by TurdFurgison
3.8/5 rDev -11.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Stop 3 during the Michigan trip. A quick stop for a bite to eat and a pint (or two, or three).
Atmosphere: Bell's has both indoor and outdoor seating. We chose indoor and soon discovered the bar service only, as well as the cash only rules. Bar service only dinged Dark Horse, so it dings Bell's as well. Lots of rustic maps and old breweriana on the walls.
Quality: Good beers and decent food. Bathrooms were generally clean, so little complaint there.
Service: Bar service only and a weird ordering process. The bar is cash only too, so don't bring your credit.
Selection: Here we have a winner with a good number of one-off brews available along with a complete bottle line. I had the Golden Funk and Kal-Haven, both of which I'd recommend.
Food: Food was sparse and just alright. I'd visit again for the beer offerings.
07-19-2009 23:02:05 | More by akorsak
4.29/5 rDev 0%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
Stopped here on a Saturday night.... had to pay a cover charge for a band I wasn't interested in, but oh well. Got a flight of beers and as always great quality. A few rare beers were available, but wouldn't mind seeing a few more. The atmosphere was good with the band and all, and had a good view from the balcony. Building itself was older, but done up nice inside. Service was good as well, including in the attached general store. I think some of the Bell's clothing line is the best of all the breweries, and they make accomodations for carryouts. Unsure if they had food there. I will go back and have 5 times. This is my first review.
01-13-2011 04:43:00 | More by MilwaukeeCrusher
3.25/5 rDev -24.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$
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.
01-03-2010 15:22:52 | More by crossovert
4.04/5 rDev -5.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$
On our way to the Winter beer fest in GR we stopped at all the pertinent places. This was our first stop.
Pretty much had the usual brew pub setting. Huge open space. Moderately sized bar. Small seating area in front of the bar and a balcony wiht more tables. A fairly large stage for such a small place but I like it loud so I wouldn't complain.
All the usual Bell's suspects were on tap. Along with some special pub only offerings. I opted for one of the latter. My stout was served ice cold and poured all the way to the top of the glass. Allowing for no head and some serious hand warming.
The food looked decent from what I saw but we didn't eat so I can't comment on it.
Overall a bit underwhelming considering the legendary status of the brewery. Nice place but I wouldn't make it a must stop on my next journey out there.
03-11-2011 12:53:43 | More by beerwolf77
Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI
95 out of 100 based on 380 ratings.