Bell's Brewery, Inc.

BEER AVG
3.92/5
Bell's Brewery, Inc.Bell's Brewery, Inc.
PLACE INFO

Type: Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

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

(269) 382-2332 | map
bellsbeer.com

Notes:
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

BEER STATS
Beers:
121
Ratings:
98,254
Reviews:
29,587
PLACE STATS
Score:
93
Ratings:
743
Reviews:
213
Avg:
4.18
pDev:
5.26%
 
 
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Ratings: 743 |  Reviews: 213
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.

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Photo of slander
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

 919 characters

Photo of Billolick
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
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...

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Photo of Sammy
3.84/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

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Photo of LXIXME
4.13/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Photo of misternebbie
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%

Photo of jmdrpi
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

My wife and I visited the Ecentric Cafe for dinner and a few drinks. Atmosphere is cool - they have lots of outdoor seating at picnic tables, and they the inside is nice too. Two rooms, one where they serve food, and the other where they have a stage for bands. Rustic wood look.

Beers were great as expected, and they had a big lineup that included 4 or 5 brewpub only beers.

Bartenders were fine, you have to order your food at the bar and then pick it up when your pager goes off.

The only downside was that they do not serve any non-beer alcohol. My wife was bummed they didn't have their Mead or anything else for non beer drinkers.

 642 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

Photo of TurdFurgison
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

When it comes to beer taste and selection, Bell's is one of my personal favorites and I am rarely disappointed. I was let down by the fact that they were cash only and the ordering system for food was cumbersome. The facility was so-so though I enjoyed the homebrew store directly attached to the brewpub which was something I haven't seen yet. It was pretty busy at the bar and I didn't always get served quickly but it was worth the wait. I guess customer service and the fact that food selection seems as though it was added as an after thought. But overall, the beer and excellent selection will be me coming back.

 618 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 Dicers
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of GRG1313
3.45/5  rDev -17.5%
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 MilwaukeeCrusher
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
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.

 642 characters

Photo of nickfl
3.48/5  rDev -16.7%
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.

 933 characters

Photo of Canada_Dan
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5

Photo of akorsak
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
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.

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Photo of orangesol
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Stopped in here last weekend while I was in town for the Michigan Mile. Figured it was a ten hour trip, might as well drive another twenty minutes and check out one of my longtime most wanted places.

Atmosphere is a little chaotic but in a sorta good way. People are all over the place drinking, eating and just hanging out. We must have hit the jackpot as we got a parking spot right out front, got served at the bar with no wait, and got a nice table just a few feet away all in the span of five minutes. Lots of cool stuff hanging on the walls from all over the world, its just a really cool place to have a beer. Service was good. It was a little hard to get their attention but once I got it I had no problems. Quality was pretty high all things considered. The beers are top notch and the food was solid.

Selection was pretty large. I tried about 7-8 of them and they were all at least solid. The Larry's Latest DIPA I tried was incredible. We got an order of chips and some buffalo dip, both were excellent. My only knock on the food is that the menu seemed a little small but it was more than enough for a snack or two. Everything was priced pretty well. Beers were a touch high but I was expecting them to be that way since most of them weren't your everyday Bell's beers.

Overall I am glad I made the side trip over here. It is exactly what I expected and more. I look forward to returning in the future and spending a bit more time, hopefully out on the deck.

 1,473 characters

Photo of BillRoth
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.43/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Took a trip to K'zoo to visit Bell's and was happy that I did. The bar is a cool place that is clean, has a unique atmosphere and just the right size to still feel cozy while not being too small.

The taps were great - with a great selection or regular offerings, seasonal offerings and a few experimental beers. Roundhouse Red was probably my favourite tap room only beer that I had but it was great to finally try Hopslam on tap as well. The experimental beers that I tasted were great as well.

Only disappointment was not finding Expedition on tap.

 554 characters

Photo of Knapp85
4.06/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Had been wanting to check this place out for a while and finally got around to it. Finding the parking lots was a little confusing but after finding it there was no real issue with getting in or anything. The look and feel of the place reminded me of a revamped train station. It had a really nice look to it with some old nostalgia hanging on the ways. The beer selection was vast and the food had a few good choices on there too. The thing that killed me was that it was cash only. I wanted to have a few rounds but only had enough for one. The food looked good but I didn't order any. I ordered an Oracle IPA and tried a friends Wild Thing and both to me felt a little watery. Perhaps it's just me. Overall I liked the place, if I ever get there again I'll be sure to brig more cash along.

 792 characters

Photo of mynie
4/5  rDev -4.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The cafe isn't all that eccentric. Like, maybe in the mid 90s it might have been a little kooky--maybe just a skoosh bizarre or a wee bit off--but now, in this rotten year of our lord 2012, this place is downright normal. A little like a hunting lodge, yes. And filled with some interesting vintage prints and old things made of wood, but still pretty normal. The vibe, thankfully, is very adult. Its unique, but entirely unhip, unpretentious, and therefore quite easy for a late-twentysomething fellow like myself to stomach.

Everything was quite reasonably priced. They only offered a small handful of beers that you couldn't get out of state, which was a little disappointing, but their offerings were expansive and uniformly solid (you don't need me to describe Bell's beers to you, do you?). No growlers, but since there's little here you can't get in a sixer that's really not much of a problem.

Outside featured a big wooden deck that functioned as a charmless, but highly functional, beer garden. Unfortunately they don't allow glass outside, so if you want to enjoy the sun you'll have to take your Hopslam in a plastic cup. The gigantic homebrew/beer/schwag store is pretty nice.

Uhh, what else... The food was good. And also probably the most eccentric part of the place (although it wasn't really *that* eccentric). They had TONS of vegetarian options, which I consider a big plus, and most of the dishes had some quirk about them. I ordered the grilled cheese and it came with jalapenos and pineapples and was really tasty.

The bar was staffed with enough people so there was practically no line, and everyone in the place just seemed in a really good mood. Still, I don't know if this is really a must-see kind of place. Bell's has been around so long and as seen so much success that pretty much every American beer person is already familiar with their beers and their ethos, so going in an experiencing the place won't clue you in to anything new. It's still a nice place to stop, though.

 2,010 characters

Photo of TX-Badger
4/5  rDev -4.3%

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Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI
3.92 out of 5 based on 98,254 ratings.
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