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Bell's Brewery, Inc.
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Active Beers: 75
Beer Ratings: 45,742
Beer Avg: 3.9
Taps: 20 / Bottles: 12
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Brewery, Bar, Eatery ]
355 E. Kalamazoo Ave.
phone: (269) 382-2332
Bell's does not sell growlers of their beer at the Eccentric Café & Beergarden.
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
People always have trouble finding this place, and the door isn't well marked so I can see how they get confused. Park around back and go in the door at the top of the ramp.
Once inside it's a big bright open space with lots of dark wood and exposed brick. There's a cozy elevated loft space that overlooks the main floor. Fixed to the walls are a mish-mash of decorations, mostly relating to beer, fish, and Africa. There are a few amazing pieces produced by local artists, including an oberon painting and four spectacular stained glass windows, one with two beer bottles built right in. Outside is a very popular and roomy beer garden, great for summer nights (although beware of the plastic cups they give you if you're going outside). The tap selection varies, but when I went this week there were 10 on tap, and a few more available in bottles. The food is above average pub food, nothing too fancy but there are quite a few unique items and it's all reasonably priced. You have to order up at the kitchen window then pay at the bar; it's a system that actually works quite well. Overall a very enjoyable place to hang out. Great for a relaxed lunch, and also fun on packed Saturday nights with live music.
06-06-2006 03:35:17 |
More by shivtim
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
Bell's Eccentric Cafe was a very fun stop after a long drive through Chicago (from Minnesota) to stop for the night. The building is brick, and not overly furnished. Some nice beer pieces on the wall, but almost has the feel of a buddy's decorated basement, comfortable and easy to drink all night in. Except, it isn't air conditioned, and even w/ many of the people outside listening to the band, it was very hot in spite of being 8:00 at night when I arrived. A visit in other than summer might be better, but the beer is well worth the sweat.
Being from Minnesota, I get the standard Bell's beers, but think I'm missing out on many others. I started with a Belgian Dubbel--Hell Hath No Fury, a high alcohol malty Belgian that went straight to my head. Very good. Followed that w/ Two Hearted from the Firkin, which was also excellent, and a fine treat to have Bell's on cask. Finished the tasting with barleywine, simply known as Old Ale. Again, a high alcohol but extremely smooth beer that I sipped for a long time.
Staff was extremely helpful, and really knew how to handle and pour a beer--the kind of love of presentation that makes drinking feel like an event. Food looked good. You order at a window, and get it yourself. Many people were eating, but I was a bit late and kitchen had just closed.
If you can conjure up an excuse to drive through Kalamazoo for any reason, stop and hit Bell's.
07-27-2006 03:49:54 |
More by FightingEntropy
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $
Finally made it to Bell's. First I checked out the General Store, which is a high recommendation. They have all their 6 packs and mini kegs at prices. Additionally, they have tons of Bell's gear, shirts, stickers, lamps. All quality stuff too...The Cafe was under construction so I will have to re-visit this place in the future. All that was open was the new concert hall, reminds me of a college bar I use to visit. Its too wide open, not a place to drink. But its new and really nice. So in essence, General Store great, Cafe incomplete, new concert room skip unless a really good band is there.
02-02-2011 00:15:28 |
More by jrallen34
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.
06-11-2012 14:06:44 |
More by mynie
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 doesnt 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 werent any signs to confirm that I had made it to Bells. 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 Fitgers 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 didnt 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 wasnt much service. So the names the Eccentric Café? How about Eccentric Cafeteria? Its 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 Bells 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, Im 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.
08-18-2007 20:54:43 |
More by DarkerTheBetter
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $
I visited this place a few days ago - my first pilgrimage to Bell's and the SW Michigan beer scene.
Before visiting the Eccentric Cafe, I checked out the Bell's General Store (located right in front of the Cafe). They had all sorts of cool Bell's wear (hats, shirts, sweatshirts, hockey jerseys, etc.) as well as glasses, keychains, and other souvenirs. I was especially inpressed that they had bottles of Bell's beer and homebrew supplies for sale as well.
Back to the Eccentric Cafe...the whole place is fairly small, and very, well, eccentric. Lots of weird but cool things grace the walls and there is a stage at one end of the room where they have live music at night. There was also an outdoor beer garden, but beers have to be transferred to plastic cups before going out there.
Surprisingly they do not accept any payment but cash and there was no table service. Oh well, that is probably the reason the beers were so cheap! Most of their lineup could be had on tap for $2.50-$3.00 per 12oz pour. I was thrilled to see that the draught list was at least a dozen strong and almost completely comprised of rarer and seasonal beers (not the usual lineup we see in bottles). I was able to try 2 different sour beers I had never even heard of prior to my visit. They also had 12oz bottles of the "regular" stuff avaiable as well. Beers on tap could be had in 12/16/20 ounce quantities with appropriate pricing.
We had to order our food from a small window and then take the order slip to the bar to pay (in cash). The food was quite good and also inexpensive. Plus there was a lot of it!
All in all, this is a great place to hang out and I wish I lived near enough to do just that on a weekly basis.
09-01-2009 04:16:16 |
More by spointon
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
First formal review of Bells, after many many visits over the past 8 years or so.
My most recent visit lead me to actually throw down a formal review, as the Eccentric Party was an absolute blast.
Larry and Laura put out an awesome spread of free food, and provided a fantastic atmosphere the was a real pleasure to be part of. A great variety of some of their vintage beers (batch 6000, vintage Expo, etc) really was a terrific surprise.
The Cafe used to be a small bar area, with a stage, which they brought some truly terrific acts in for. They have recently renovated to add a big banquet area, and a big stage. I have yet to see a show on the new side, but the DJ appeared to be digging the stage...
Always a great time when visiting Bells. If you are in SW MI, take the time to stop by. You won't be disappointed.
12-26-2011 17:23:32 |
More by MarcatGSB
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$
On my list of places to go for years I finally got to Bell's this past weekend. Tucked behind the "General Store" off the main drag, it has a funky atmosphere and is wide open with an ecelctic mix of signs/masks/stained glass/pictures throughout.
While there is no wait staff the entire process of ordering beers or food is easy and runs smoothly. I like it this way-it is a nice change. Both kitchen and bar staff were friendly and the kitchen staff was very grateful for the small tip I left in the jar.
There were at least 12 beers on tap and another 6 bottle selections available. I had the Kalamazoo Stout and a great Imperial Red IPA. The food was very good and fairly priced. We had 4 different sandwiches and all agreed how good they were.
Very, very reasonably priced-beers are available in 3 sizes and even a 20 ounce beer was no more then $4. Sandwiches ran about $6.50. Great value for sure.
Very relaxed and casual spot. Would love to have stayed a bit longer, perhaps next time. Well worth the trip.
10-13-2009 21:37:09 |
More by lackenhauser
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | $$$
Stopped in here on the way from Dark Horse to Short's on a Friday afternoon.
Oddly there is no sign saying where the Cafe is, or at the door. There were a ton of cars parked in the lot as well as on the side streets, so we took a guess and wandered in.
The hallway you enter through opens up into a large, open brick space. Very high ceilings with lots of signage and African craved masks on the walls. Beautifull stained glass with a Michigan/beer theme, as well as a small walk-up bar that serves up great beer. Cash only with no table service. The no table service seems to be a common thing in Michigan. Kind of odd.
As I stated, it's cash only which is ridiculous in this day and age. The only reason for not taking credit cards is that the owner must be are too cheap to pay the fees.
No growler fills either which is odd even for Michigan.
The day we went it was packed but we luckily were tapped by a couple leaving thier table so we were able to sit for a few. We had a very enjoyable time for the short period we were there. Plenty to look at on the walls, good music piped in, the sun was streaming in through the stained glass, and the beer was very good.
We didn't have any food, and didn't see anyone eating either. The beers were priced a bit steep as expected for Bells.
Very cool spot and would love to go back and hang for hours someday (with lots of cash).
03-27-2009 13:49:30 |
More by brewandbbq
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
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.
03-16-2012 02:15:30 |
More by TheSevenDuffs
Bell's Brewery, Inc. in Kalamazoo, MI