Noted American craft brewing company Bell’s Brewery is a staple in Kalamazoo Michigan. Among the more than a handful of breweries in the area, it’s easily one of the more recognized locations.
Whether you’re visiting for the first or fifth time, Bell’s Brewery is a must to put on your itinerary. Here’s everything that you need to know about the brewery before you go!
About Bell’s Brewery
For those planning a visit to Bell’s Brewery, getting to know the company behind popular names like Hopslam Ale and Two Hearted Ale is helpful. The brewpub and store selling homebrewing supplies and lots of merchandise are fun destinations.
A Homebrew Supplier
The brewery started not in a warehouse or facility but in a basement. Specifically, a soup pot. In 1983, Larry Bell founded The Kalamazoo Brewing Company, Inc.
At that time, the business was zeroed in on providing people with access to homebrewing supplies they needed to create their own craft brews from home. The popularity of the store was strong from the start.
Just two years later, the company started to sell its beer. That beer was brewed in nothing more than a 15-gallon soup kettle, certainly meant for the production of soup in a large-scale residential center, not in a brewhouse.
Nevertheless, the beer was brewed in the pot and fermented in open fermenters covered by nothing more than plastic wrap. That first year, the company produced 135 barrels, a promising start.
Eccentric Cafe & Second Location
In 1993, the location opened a brewpub next door and called it the Eccentric Café. In 2003, the company opened a second brewing facility — one that was a bit more advanced — in Comstock, Michigan.
It changed its name to Bell’s Brewery, Inc. in 2006, which is what the company was primarily known as by locals.
Success & Changed Ownership
By 2012, the business was brewing at a much higher rate, going from 180,000 barrels to about 500,000 barrels each year. With ample success, the company bought back all the stock it had issued to grow from private investors.
It maintained this family ownership through 2021, at which point Larry Bell sold his controlling shares in the company to Lion Little World Beverages. Lion is based in Australia and is recognized as an alcoholic beverage producer.
Unique Beer Offerings at Bell’s Brewery
Bell’s Brewery makes a wide range of beers, including American amber ale, IPAs, stouts, Pilsners, low-cal options, and porters.
Its Two-Hearted Ale has been ranked one of the best in the country by the American Homebrewers Association. It also produces Hopslam, a popular double IPA among those who love true craft beers.
Over its history, Bell’s Brewery has worked to develop numerous unique craft beers. It currently produces eight packaged beers that are available throughout the year. These iconic and year-round brews are some of the most well recognized by patrons:
- Ambler Ale, an American amber ale with 5.8% ABV
- Hopsolution Ale, a Double IPA with 8% ABV
- Kalamazoo Stout, an American Stout with 6% ABV
- Lager of the Lakes, a Bohemian-style Pilsner with 5% ABV
- Light Hearted Ale, a low-calorie American IPA with 3.7% ABV
- Official, a hazy IPA with 6.4% ABV
- Porter, a robust porter with 5.6% ABV
- Two Hearted Ale, an American IPA with 7% ABV
In addition to these, Bell’s Brewery has a wide range of seasonal and limited-production products that are certainly a must-try for craft brew lovers. That includes the Christmas Ale — a true Scotch Ale — and the Best Brown Ale — an American brown ale that’s sold around the holidays.
The limited-production beers are commonly found only at the Kalamazoo location.
Bell’s Brewery Tours
There’s something fun about touring a brewery, and Bell’s Brewery is an excellent choice for doing that. We recommend booking your tour in advance, or you’ll have to try your luck on it being available when you arrive.
These brewery tours are free and have been since 1983. They are available at both locations for those who are at least 21 years of age.
The brewery often offers specially themed tours, like a Barrel-aged tour that provides a look at the company’s state-of-the-art facility, which uses the same craftsmanship that has been used for centuries. Free samples of barrel-aged beers are provided right from the barrels.
Downtown Kzoo Tour
The Downtown Kzoo tour is another option and is typically available on Sundays. It provides a more refined look at not just the brewing facility but also a bit more about the local history in the area.
It takes guests on a tour of three areas — the Café, Backroom, and General store. It’s a good way to learn about the homebrewing supplies that the company sells if you want to try your luck at home.
Comstock Brewery Tours
The Comstock brewery is also available for tours and offers an impressive experience. This is one of the most modern breweries in the region with a 36-foot mural that depicts the company’s history. You can even see the soup pot that started it all.
Things to Know Before Visiting Bell’s Brewery
Before you plan your trip to Bell’s Brewery, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- You have to be 21 years of age or older – with a valid ID – to get into the brewery.
- You can buy a variety pack of beers. If you’ve found more than one that you love, check out the variety pack options.
- If you have fallen in love with a beer that the brewery no longer makes, you can still learn about it on the company’s website. However, the brewery cannot produce more.
- Some beers are well-sought-after but have limited availability. That includes the Consecrator Doppelbock, released just once a year, and the Expedition Stout, released in the autumn.
- Book your tours in advance if possible. Though they are available throughout the year, they fill up quickly by those who love the location.
- Store hours change based on the time of the year, so call or check the brewery’s website before you go.
- Check out the café when visiting because it offers a wide range of foods worth enjoying with a good beer.
Bell’s Brewery Events
During the year, Bell’s Brewery hosts a wide range of events, including everything from music to comedy. Check its events page to see what’s happening, but here are some annual activities that are worth attending.
Oberon Day is all about fresh food and beer. There’s often entertainment available and lots of fun to be had. It typically occurs in March each year with a DJ, live entertainment, a photo booth, ice cream, and much more.
Eccentric Day is a popular December event that lasts all day long at the Eccentric Café and General Store. The event is free to those who are over the age of 21 (limited availability can occur). The latest ales are released, and there’s often entertainment to keep everyone busy and enjoying some fun.
Concerts & More
Bell’s Brewery often hosts concerts in a wide range of styles. These are often local bands and groups who are well known in the area or even some just breaking through. There’s nearly always something fun happening.
FAQs About Bell’s Brewery
Can you host a private event at Bell’s Brewery?
You can! Bell’s Brewery is a popular destination for private gatherings, corporate events, weddings, and more, offering over 20 beers on tap, wine, in-house catering, and on-site event support.
The Bell’s Back Room can host 30 to 150 guests, with some configurations allowing for as many as 370 people with standing room only.
How can I learn more about the home brewing options at Bell’s Brewery?
Bell’s Brewery was founded on the ability to purchase all of the supplies that people need to create fantastic brews right at home. When you visit the General Store, you’ll find all of the kits and tools that you need to get started.
The team is always willing to provide insight into the process or offer guidance too. Also, its Homebrew Central offers insights to help you.
Can I buy beer closer to home from Bell’s Brewery?
It’s easy to love this beer, and as a result, you may want to take some with you. You can purchase cases of it at the General Store. The company also distributes its products in 43 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
Get Ready to Enjoy Some Beer at Bell’s Brewery
If you have yet to sample Bell’s Brewery’s products, make the trip to the Kalamazoo Michigan location to give it a try. You may become a fan for life when you do.
However, Bell’s Brewery isn’t the only brewer in the area that you can explore. Consider taking a downtown Kalamazoo craft brewery tour, which includes stops at several area breweries.