Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Bell's Brewery, Inc.Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery

355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
Kalamazoo, Michigan, 49007-3807
United States

(269) 382-2332 | map

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

Bell's does sell growlers at their General Store.

Added by BeerAdvocate

View: Beers | Place Reviews | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 211 | Ratings: 734
Photo of Slick50
2.39/5  rDev -42.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 1.5 | selection: 2.75 | food: 1.25

First trip there for Black Note was a cluster. I'm used to "shit shows" but it was stupid. Drove there, stood in the cold. Was like #10. Two case max. Got in, one case max. Pissed, I took it and left. Found out three hours later (after the 4hour drive) they made a mistake and it was back to 2 cases about 30 minutes after I left. And the lack of food is relative to my rating. Sorry to say it but it is what it is.

 424 characters

Photo of docoman
3.6/5  rDev -13.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Overall not as I had hoped for their taproom. It is pretty much self serve and seating is just come as you go and layout not so great with the up stairs too far from bar area to order beer and food. Beer selection of course is really good and food was good.

 259 characters

Photo of almostjay
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Lives up to the hype. Not pretentious at all. Obviously great beer. Really good pub style food. Big, open, and inviting. One of the best breweries in the country. Love it.

 171 characters

Photo of AlexM
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%

Visited Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo ... not much to gripe about here ... cool vibe, great beers (really appreciate the tasting flights), great brew-pub only beers, neat decor, chill vibe, etc ... really a must visit if you are in the area.

 246 characters

Photo of PPIV
5/5  rDev +19.6%

I cut my teeth here in the mid 90's. After working for the Grand Rapids Brewing Co I fell in love with the micro brews. Luckily I knew some people that worked in the Eccentric Cafe and I got beers quicker than the unlucky bastards that had to seemingly wait in line for a refill. The ambiance of the cafe has changed a lot over the years. No more fish tank or ping pong. The beer remains fresh and as awesome as the first time I had it though! I reach for Bell's beer first, out of any in a cooler full of exciting micros.

 531 characters

Photo of stouts4me
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

I like this place, everyone will tell you to make a visit. Great beer, atmosphere, food. The General Store is awesome after your time in the bar. Too many beers that are on the great beer list for me to name, look 'me up yourself, just don't miss this place on your beer Mecca.

 277 characters

Photo of cb500rider
3.86/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

The Gastro Pub at the original site of Bell's Brewery is a great little place. Raw stonework inside, beer garden out back. They also have concerts and a swag shop. They have a great selection of Bell's beers, including many that are not commercially available. Sadly, the kitchen had closed by the time I got there, so I was not able to eat anything. More room for beer!!!

 372 characters

Photo of Mothergoose03
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

The vibe in this brewpub is near perfect in my mind. The only thing that I don't like is the cramped area and typical line-up for ordering your food and beer at the bar. But that's a minor issue since everything else is outstanding. The beer list always has a bunch of the standard menu year-round beers, and a bunch of seasonals, specialty and experimental beers. And there is never a brewing flaw to be found. The food menu is not lengthy, but there are enough choices to satisfy most people, especially if pub food with an upward twist is okay with you. This pub is a must-visit for any craft beer lover.

 607 characters

Photo of Jackofallbrews
3.93/5  rDev -6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4

This is for Bells Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo. If you haven't tried some Bells beers you might just be a hermit living in a cave. The café itself is a small tasting room with loads of old beer signs, posters, and tribal art on the walls. The small bar serves up many Bells favorites like Two Hearted (way better fresh on tap here than when it gets to MN in the bottle). They also have several pub only smaller experimental batches on tap. Sj and I ordered two samplers and shared so we could try as many as possible. Just like Latitude 42 and Acadia, we still didn't try everything! My favorite at the time was the Experimental Hop 2014 number 2 that had a bright melon-like flavor and a light and refreshing session feel. They also have a small kitchen to fulfill your eating needs., but I didn't get a chance to try that out.

The general store is right around the corner, selling beer, homebrew supplies and swag.

 917 characters

Photo of raleigh_blue
3.4/5  rDev -18.7%
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.

 1,020 characters

Photo of guityler83
4.19/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4

My first stop on the way to NHC in Grand Rapids was the Bell's tap room - Bell's General Store. Not to be confused with the production brewery down the road, which did have a cool impromptu tour I joined, but no tap room.

I arrived around 2pm on a Wednesday and there was a good crowd already, spotted a few other NHC bound folks. I found a spot at the bar and was greeted with a huge list of beers in front of me varying from the main stays (two hearted, oberon, amber, etc) and one off varieties, a smash beer with a new, unnamed hop variety, session ipa and a few barrel aged beers. The bar tender was prompt at asking what I would like - 2 hearted.. of course. Extremely fresh and bright but still the balance you expect from the beer.. nice. Also ordered a Reuben sandwich which turned out to be a very good compliment to the beer with a spicey sauce on it.

The decore/atmosphere of the place was a mix of nautical, african masks, antique signage, very cool and random. After finishing off the two hearted I went for the experimental hop ipa, meh.. needs work. the hop didn't come off like it was ment to be used in an IPA format, very mild and floral. not the huge citrus and pine you usually get in the style.

Overall a nice stop, there is also a homebrew supply store in the front with all kinds of fun stuff. If you are driving to Grand Rapids or Detroit its worth a detour.

 1,386 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

 1,264 characters

Photo of braggheim
4.33/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I've been to Bell's several times now and have always enjoyed my visit. I was there yesterday and it was my first warm weather experience in the beer garden. This is really a great atmosphere for a relaxing drink with friends. I saw families bringing their young children to play while Mom and Dad had a beer. Beers are always solid and there is usually something on the list I haven't tried before that impresses me. Everything I have eaten there has been decent or better and the price isn't breaking the bank. I will continue to visit anytime time allows and I would suggest anyone who can, do the same.

 606 characters

Photo of SteveSly
4.6/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Bell’s is the gem of the Kalamazoo brew scene which continues to grow year by year. Bell’s original brewery (now called The Eccentric Café) is in the heart of downtown Kalamazoo. They did some major renovations on it last year. The original drinking space remains about the same, but they have added a very nice live music venue on the other side, a patioed outdoor picnic table area and the grassy beer garden, which also hosts live music in the summer. The beer selection is always top notch and they often feature several beers that are experimental in nature or cannot be found in bars / stores. The food is mostly sandwiches, but they are all really good quality. The crowd at Bell’s ranges from college kids to senior citizens and everything in between. It is literally an all ages kind of place that everyone can feel comfortable at. If you are a beer fan, Bell’s is a MUST visit when in Kalamazoo.

 914 characters

Photo of PaulyB83
4.58/5  rDev +9.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

I live in Kalamazoo, well technically Portage, and I frequent Bell's at least twice a month. My favorite thing about it besides the beer is the atmosphere. It is a very warming place to be all the wood and eccentric stuff all over the walls. I am also very happy that every time I go there there is always a selection of music that I love, I usually hear Radiohead and Bon Iver at least once when I'm there.

The food is mostly house smoked meats, turkey, pork, brisket, salami. And it is always very delicious but at times I find myself wishing for something that doesn't have that smoked flavor in it. And the ordering system is such that you go up to the bar where people are ordering beer and sitting and enjoying their beer and order your food there then get a buzzer and pick up your food at a pick up window. I have found that when the place is busy it can get really confusing what line people are in and exactly who is in front of who. The bartenders do tend to pour your beer and take your order quickly though.

The selection of beer is top notch. There is always somewhere between 6-10 different beers you can only get at the brewery, which is too bad for those who don't live close enough to frequent the brewery often. As far as selection of styles go they mostly do pale ales, ipas, and stouts but at least a couple lagers are always on-tap. Sours and barrel aged offerings can be kind of a crap shoot to find, they don't really alert when they tap Black Note or anything. They do have an online tap cam but I have that I will look it up then go down to the brewery for something specifically and they will tell me it tapped earlier in the day or the day before. So I don't know if something is off with the way the tap cam updates of what.

Beers are usually very reasonably priced and about 1 or 2 dollars cheaper than you would find at a bar that's not having a special or something. The food is reasonably priced, a dinner is usually around 12-14 dollars and a sandwich around 9-11. The portions are very nice.

During the summer they have a very nice outdoor patio area were people can take their beers, they have to give them to you in a plastic cup, and on weekends they usually have a ticketed concert.

The General Store is attached to the building but has an entrance around the corner from the brewery. Everyone there is very helpful and no that I've started to do some homebrews, I'm able to sort of talk shop about brewing. They recently added a counter pressure fill growler station and it is very nice, they only have 4 beers at a time on it though.

So in conclusion, Bell's Brewery and General Store is a very comfortable and professional place with some of the best beers in the world. When you go here you won't feel like you're in the taproom for one of the biggest craft brewers in the country but rather like you're in someone's home. It should be on every beer lovers list of breweries to visit.

 2,940 characters

Photo of 3fdread
4.43/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.5

When I was there they did a tribute to all saints day and made it all stouts day(awesome). Has a college kind of vibe to it. Place was wall to wall people, but they knew how to handle it. The beer chicks will give the proper amount of sass which always makes for a good time. Outdoor area has the feel of a big backyard party. Wish the store/shop was a little bigger, but it was packed with all kinds of goodies. When in Michigan, forget a tigers game and go to Kalamazoo for some Bells!

 487 characters

Photo of DavidHM
4.69/5  rDev +12.2%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

What a fantastic value! Ambience, service, food, and beer were all excellent and the price was reasonable. What more could one want? If there was any griping to be done it was that they were out of my second beer selection and there was a slight chip on one of my glasses. Those were the only things keeping me from giving them a higher score. Btw- loved the African themed bar.

 378 characters

Photo of clay23
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25

The general store is a great place to pick up beers for later. The opportunity to get flights is a great option inside the bar area and the availability of trying rare and experimental beers should seal the deal. The staff was really helpful and friendly. Overall its a must stop along the Michigan brewery trail.

 313 characters

Photo of King_Charles
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3

Don't even think about skipping this place if you're in Kalamazoo. Great beers, great food, and great service. With exception to 1 or 2 newer bartenders, the knowledge of the staff runs deep. Same goes for the staff in the general store. Cant recommend it enough.

If you can manage to go right after the official "Eccentric Day," check to see if you can get some of the older beer they've kept in the cellar...very worthwhile.

 428 characters

Photo of robriley
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Bells is one of the best breweries I have ever been to. From the quality of their beers to the overall atmosphere of the building, everything is pretty much perfect. Really enjoy the beer garden in summer along with some of the special events like Eccentric Day.

 262 characters

Photo of smartassboiler
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I did a quick MI brewery tour on my way to Founders KBS Day, and we stopped at Bell's third.

The Atmosphere is really nice. They have a small, quaint Eccentric Cafe that seats a decent amount of people downstairs, and they also have a small upstairs area as well with extra tables. That's the best place to look when it's crowded because it seems like not everyone knows to check up there. The place was jammed when we got there around 5 on a Friday night, but we found a table upstairs.

The Quality is great. They make top-notch beers and serve really good food.

The Service was good. You have to go up and get everything yourself, but they have multiple people taking beer orders, and they have a separate line for food. It can get really crowded, but they crank through the line at a good pace.

The Selection is fantastic. They had over 20 of their beers available on tap, and they offer up some draft-only versions as well. They still had Hopslam on tap, and the 2nd time I visited they were pouring The Wild One.

The Food was delicious. I had an absolutely amazing grilled cheese sandwich, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed what they ordered. I liked their menu and would go back multiple times to try different things.

Bell's is one of the best brewpubs I've been to thanks mainly to the selection of beer and great food. I highly recommend it.

 1,354 characters

Photo of ari32
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3.75

They had quite a selection of beers on tap with a decent amount of brewpub-only beers. Most of them were good. The place seems kind of small, but apparently there's a second bar in the back that wasn't open the day I visited. The food was pretty good, but nothing amazing. The staff was good and extremely helpful. They tried to help me and my friend pick out some beers that we would like based on our favorite styles and did a pretty good job. They also helped us locate a decent bottle shop and then find the quickest path to the freeway from there so we could continue our journey to Grand Rapids.

 601 characters

Photo of MSandahl23
4.68/5  rDev +12%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Visited the brewery and general store and went on the tour and it is a must! The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable(big shock there right :) And the one offs in the tap room could have kept me there all day if we didn't have plans later that day in Grand Rapids. Had the Wild one for the first time and it was the highlight of the trip for me beer-wise. Loved it!

 370 characters

Photo of SerialTicker
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

*From my Yelp profile*

I was torn between a four and a five for the Eccentric Cafe. Eh... I guess take this as a 4.75/5, if that shit matters at all.

I got here at about noon or so on a Friday (July 5th to be exact) and I still had to wait about 10-15 minutes in line. Considering it was lunch time, I'm actually kind of surprised I didn't have to wait longer. Got to the front of the line (which is at the bar, oddly enough), ordered a paddle, and the reuben sandwich. I was given one of those -- for the lack of a better word -- vibrators, and sat down at an open table with my beer. All six that I had sampled were average or better. My personal favorite was the Quinannan Falls Lager... holy hell that stuff is great. I know. "Lager". Just trust me, it's fantastic.

To my surprise, the Eccentric Cafe is *somewhat* small... there are probably a few less than two dozen tables. For those that want to, there's the option to sit outside. Well, during Spring until maybe Fall... who the hell would want to sit in the snow and drink.

Alright, okay, the reuben. The price of the sandwich escapes me, but it was between $8-$10... which turned out to be a super fair price. There was about an inch of meat on the sandwich, which is A-OK with me. The sandwich also came with some really tasty chips... I'm not sure if they make them at the cafe, or if they're store bought, but the seasoning on it was pre' good. I also had a taste of the sausage from the jambalaya and thought that was well above average. I should also add that the $10 (?) jambalaya comes in a pretty big bowl. Just sayin'.

Bell's Eccentric Cafe is a great place. I had the option of going here or to Arcadia in Battle Creek on my way to Chicago... is there really a comparison (as far as beer is concerned)? No. No there isn't.

I only have one minor gripe with the Eccentric Cafe, if you can really call it that. Is there no waitressing? The way this place is run is somewhat unusual to me. Order drinks *and* food at the bar. Get your drink(s). Wait awhile. Get buzzed in for your food. Pick up your food... nobody comes to your table. If you want a refill, you have to go up and get one yourself. Oh yeah, and that wait can take quite a little while.

Despite that, this is a must visit for a beer fan. I came here with a couple other people that have zero interest in craft beer (SHAME ON THEM!), but they really liked their food as well. I'd definitely come back if I'm in Kalamazoo again.

 2,465 characters

Photo of qcbrewer
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.75

This is my second visit to Bell's General Store and Eccentric Cafe. This time proved to be far more entertaining, merely based on better weather, timing, and people (last time was a bit dull). Getting here isn't too bad and it's "near" the interstates in downtown Kalamazoo. Parking can be found next to the door, but just in case there is also a large parking lot less than a block away.

There are 5 main areas to Bell's: the Foyer, the Patio, the Garden, the Back Room, and the Cafe. While I spent some time in each minus the back room, I'll focus a bit more on the cafe. The Cafe (the main bar) is eccentric indeed with lots of different posters, beer adds of old, maps, random objects, and a lot of African masks. Tile flooring, aged brick walls, wooden ceiling, and wooden accents all around. Plenty of seating downstairs, as well as in the loft above. There are 6 bar stools with a nice wooden bar as the center piece. Lighting is a bit boring, but there are some very pretty stained glass windows at the far side of the room. It can be slightly loud inside, just so you know. There is also the general store (merch) around the corner (but you can't take a beer there to peruse).

Tonight there are 21 beers on tap, with all the classics, as well as some awesome seasonals/rarities (Oracle, Wild One, Exp Hop series). Bell's is a classic overall in my book, and creates a very solid, quality beer, nearly regardless of style. Personal favorites of mine are Two Hearted, Hopslam, Oracle, Porter, and Kalamazoo Stout.

Overall, I like this place a lot more than the first time. I can say I'm not a huge fan of the Cafe atmosphere, but I usually like a brewery that stands out as original and Bell's certainly does. The patio and garden areas are really nice, peaceful, and relaxing so if the weather permits I'd drink there after seeing the Cafe. Seeings how I think Bell's is a classic in beer, you should absolutely visit if near by, at least once - it's worth the experience.

 1,983 characters

Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI
3.89 out of 5 based on 96,856 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.