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.

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Reviews: 211 | Ratings: 732
Photo of Slick50
2.39/5  rDev -42.1%
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.

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Photo of funkyaudio
2.7/5  rDev -34.6%
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.

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Photo of DrunkMcDermott
2.95/5  rDev -28.6%
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.

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Photo of AgentZero
3/5  rDev -27.4%
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.

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Photo of sarahspat
3.05/5  rDev -26.2%
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.

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Photo of Tetano
3.2/5  rDev -22.5%
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.

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Photo of crossovert
3.25/5  rDev -21.3%
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.

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Photo of PhineasGage
3.33/5  rDev -19.4%
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.

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Photo of tippebrewcrew2
3.38/5  rDev -18.2%
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.

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Photo of raleigh_blue
3.4/5  rDev -17.7%
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.

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.4/5  rDev -17.7%
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.

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Photo of nortmand
3.44/5  rDev -16.7%
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.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.45/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.45/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
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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Photo of nickfl
3.48/5  rDev -15.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

The taproom (they call it a pub, but I think that is pushing it a bit) is located in an old brick building with high ceilings and an impressive collection of crap on the walls. It has a great relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.

The beer was good and the prices were reasonable, but the selection was a bit disappointing. Only two stouts on tap and a total of maby 7 or 8 different beers. I was hopeing to see more taps and maby a couple of things that I couldn't get anywhere else, as it was the only unusual thing they had that day was a terrible mead.

Service was walkup to the bar and get it yourself, which was fine with me. The food was a bit disappointing. I paid about $8 for a bland ostrich burger that came with corn chips and what was easily the worst salsa I have ever had.

In the end it was a pleasant experiance and I would definitely go back to drink, but I would go out of my way to find somewhere else to eat.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.5/5  rDev -15.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

As I came looking for this place I had to rely nearly solely on my directions as the building doesn’t seem to be that well marked. I saw one sign painted on the side of a building and parking lot behind it. Once there, there weren’t any signs to confirm that I had made it to Bell’s. So, I hesitantly strolled inside and found that I was indeed in a bar with some booming reggae music playing. I had made it.

The room had extraordinarily high ceilings with a second floor balcony overlooking it all. The bar was rather small along one wall and turned into the small kitchen area. One the walls were all sorts of decorations to include a series of African masks with one Dr. Seuss character head that some jerk decided to shoot and stuff. A Fitger’s sign caught my eye too. In the corner was a giant fish in a tank whose species I could not identify. My favorite was the stained glass windows with depictions of nature lighting up the room. Out the back was a beergarden which I didn’t explore. It was an attractive place for sure that seems like a lot of fun on a busy night.

The bar tender was a bit slow as they seemed to be getting everything squared away for the day. But due to the six people there, I think he could have tried a little harder. Then it got a bit weird for me. I asked for a menu and he pointed to a window by the kitchen side of the bar and said I had to order there and they would bring my food out to me. It was do it yourself. Later, I asked for a water and again I was told there was a water cooler with cups that I could fill up my self. Service? I guess there wasn’t much service. So the name’s the Eccentric Café? How about Eccentric Cafeteria? It’s far more suiting.

My buffalo chicken burger came out and it was all right. Nothing special at all. Actually a bit boring, but it sustained me.

With a huge slew of Bell’s beers on tap, I had more than enough to choose from, (10-12 beers?) I went for the 8K. It was nice to see such a selection and the prices were far lower than expected.

Over all, I’m not sure if this is a road trip destination unless it was over a weekend evening where the place would be a little more lively and you had some friends to keep you company.

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Photo of hotsudge
3.53/5  rDev -14.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 2

You go here for the beer. Incredible venue - super cool, I mean really cool building but quite small so we had to stand for 30 minutes before seats opened up.

The beer was great. Great selection and great tasting. Food... well there wasn't much selection and it was unusual that after we ordered it you have to go to the little window to get it. Anyhow the food was fine but overall you don't go there for the food.

The shop next door was fantastic, some of the best brew pub swag around. We bought lots of beer - as much as good from the limited choice left.

Can't wait to go again!

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Photo of Reneejane
3.59/5  rDev -13.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3

We stopped in here on a Saturday night. The atmosphere was certainly very interesting with quite engaging artwork covering the walls. I loved the high ceilings and the lovely warm wood. Quality of beer is good, Bells does a good job on quality. The service was fine as we just had beer from the bar. I felt the selection wasn't quite what I was looking for. I am a big fan of a couple of Bells beers and they weren't on tap that night :( My absolute favorite brown ale on planet Earth is Bells and it wasn't on. Now, the beers were reasonably priced, and that you can order different sizes makes this a reasonable price for beer. But unfortunately, we were stuck paying $12 to get in the door (2 covers) considering we were only there for the beer not the POS band making noise in the yard. We didn't hear the band we paid the cover for as we were happily ensconced inside. So... I felt that they <should> have charged the cover to walk outside and listen to the "band."

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Photo of GreenWBush
3.59/5  rDev -13.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

Bell's was a mecca-like journey made this past summer en route to a Wilco concert in Detroit.

I was lucky to stumble upon the brewery, but have read that many people had a major problem finding it. I was almost off-put by its monolithic bleached white appearance.

The first stop we made was at the gift shop. They've got a decent selection of Bell's by the case and six-pack, at retail prices. There are also some nice Bell's glasses to be had, as well as some good brewing books.

We made it over to the pub hoping to find some seriously hoppy beers. Unfortunately, they only keep 3 or 4 beers on tap at once. At this point, they were all very malty and relatively high in alcohol. The interior was nice, but again suffered from the TGIFriday's junky-sign obsession.

Everything seemed shiny and new, and it was nice to visit a pub where smoking is only allowed outside in the beer garden. You really get the feel for how much money they are bringing in, as well.

I was a bit off-put by the service, as they seem to not like non-locals at all. Also, I got the feeling that I was loitering there after only 15 minutes.

If you nearby, you have to make the stop. But Bell's was just not the mecca-journey I hoped it would be.

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Photo of docoman
3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

not easy to find for an out of towner (don't use mapquest to find this place!), this was a big, open bar/restaurant with high ceilings and an 1800's hunter-type decor. no beer menu. every beer bell's makes is available and is written on the chalkboard behind the bar with a short description. prices on beer and food were reasonable. no guest beers, but still plenty to choose from, also numerous bell's bottles. food was basic sandwiches and pub appetizers which you had to order at a window and pick up yourself. there were no servers so you had to go to the bar to get a beer, which kinda sucked as there can be lines at times. another inconvenience is that they don't take plastic. they have a general store/homebrew supply shop here also, i found sixers of hopslam for a few bucks cheaper, the other stuff was priced the same as elsewhere.

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Photo of jale
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Have been here many times but most recently for All Stouts Day.
I really like the new expansion here. Beautiful wood interior with plenty of space for many. Weather permitting the outdoor seating has room for a hundred or more people. They do not have table service here, so you order food and drinks at the bar. The food menu is not extensive but was decent. The service can be slow at times when they are busy so don't plan on being in a hurry. They keep the place quite clean, which must be a chore for the number of customers they have. Overall a nice place to spend a few hours drinking great Michigan beer.

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Photo of scoobybrew
3.65/5  rDev -11.6%
vibe: 2 | quality: 5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2

Okay, I've labored about how to review my experience at Bell's to give a fair opinion. goes:

In short - go for the beer and the beer only. Eat somewhere else first.

The beer at Bell's was outstanding. I don't think I've enjoyed such good beer fresh at the source from the CASK, not just a carbonated keg. I've always enjoyed Bell's offerings from the bottle, but these were incredible. Ok, that's the good (and best) part.

First off, as we walked in there was a $5 cover charge for the band that was to be playing. Okay…I feel old at this point. I haven’t paid to get into a bar since college. But, I dutifully pay, as I don’t want to cause a scene and be a square. But I did come for the beer, not the band.

The food has something to be desired. The special of the evening was 'blackened tofu'. Now, I try to eat healthy all right, but I find tofu pretty disgusting. Personal preference perhaps, but not usually what I consider an appetizing bar/grill dish.

The service was good, but you always had to go to the bar inside or the mini bar outside to get a drink. There was no wait staff walking around filling up empty drinks. I hear this place can get really busy on some nights with the college crowd, but this was the middle of the summer and it wasn't very busy. Don't get me wrong, I always got my glass filled promptly at the bar, but there's something to be said for having someone come by and fill you up. Which somewhat leads to the next point...seating.

There was a large disparity of seating in the joint. The inside floor space had less than a 1/4 of the tables that could have been there. Also, the beer garden was very nice, but had a large expanse of concrete with very few picnic tables. My wife and our friends sat on a concrete planter while I enjoyed my beer standing. Again, I'm told that Bell's gets really packed and this whole area has been filled with people all standing and chatting and enjoying their beer. This night was not the case, so fair warning.

Plastic cups outside - plastic cups outside was the rule. You couldn't have a glass out, probably because in the past too many people got a little tipsy and busted them on the concrete. Fortunately the beer was SOOO good, that it didn't seem to diminish the experience, but...fair warning.

The crowd was fairly diverse, but skewed somewhat to the eccentric 20-something crowd. Being an old man of 32, I was in the minority, but not completely out-of-sorts as there were other 'old' people there. However, I came with my wife and friends, so big deal. I think this place is more of an alternative for young people to the discotech/college bar scene. Good for them (just get the old man a chair please...).

To sum it all up, I had some of the best fresh beer ever here. It is definitely worth a visit and a return visit. Just don't expect a typical brewpub (and some of the comforts therein), I suppose after all it is the Eccentric Cafe.

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Photo of adamette
3.68/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Based on a visit there 10 15 09. Review from limited notes, mainly memory.

Atmosphere Well I visited the gift shop which was extensive as well as the Eccentric Café. In its own right, the Eccentric Café had a very college, indy band brew pub feel to it and I understand that it is on the site of the former brewery. It was just fine I guess but I was not enamored with it. They have this set up where you go to a window, place a food order, get a pager and then wait for your pager to go off. When it does you go back to the same window, pick up your food which invariably is located within a basket before taking it yourself back to your table. I did like the large chalkboard with the day's current beer selections. This is a place that has a regular line up of nightly bands and indeed when we arrived (rather early in the evening) they asked us if we had arrived to see the band or to eat dinner. The presence of a nearly nightly band is a plus. 4.0

Quality Just fine. I have almost always liked Bell's beers and I think that the gift shop and the Eccentric Café live up to the quality that I find in their bottled beers. 3.5

Service Well I did not appreciate the wait staff free system as described above but what interaction I did have with the staff was just fine. 3.0

Selection As stated, I have always liked Bell's beers so since they were featured the selection is at least good. I did enjoy several pub exclusives as well. 4.5

Food Just fair. I got a chicken salad sandwich and while I am no expert, they have a limited menu. My wife and I talked about how we should have eaten at Arcadia Brewing Company with their wood burning stove instead of holding out for this place. 3.0

Value Fair to good. I do not think that it was very expensive at all.

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Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI
3.88 out of 5 based on 95,387 ratings.
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