Tuesday, June 19, 2012

West Michigan Part 5: Kalamazoo

Bell's tap list during our visit'

Finally, my last blog about our awesome beercation to western Michigan features Kalamazoo.

After getting picked up by Craig at Grand Rapids International Airport and stopping for some samples and eats at Walldorff  Brewing Company in Hastings, MI, it was time to head to Kalamazoo; Craig’s hometown.  Also home to Bell’s Brewery’s Eccentric Café.

Bell’s main brewing headquarters is in nearby Comstock, MI, tours were not available at the time of our trip.  We were unable to contact anyone at Bell’s to do a formal interview/tour, but that sure as hell didn’t stop us from visiting their café in Kalamazoo! 

Hayes and James drove straight to the cafe from the Better Beer Authority Worldwide Headquarters near Columbus, Oh.  So our first rendezvous was there.  They had a few samples of beer in front of them when we entered the bar, and David and I promptly added to the samples by ordering even more.  I also ordered a full pour of Hopslam. 

Some highlights were the Vienna Smoked Lager, Experimental 2011, Oberon.  Also, the hot cashews they sold behind the bar were excellent.  Check out their "tap cam" for up-to-date draft listings.

Bell's Eccentric Cafe bar
The Eccentric Café is a cool place.  It is basically divided into three venues:  The main taproom where we were enjoying our suds, a concert club, and The General Store.  The taproom was earthy and comfortable, with a lot of wood tones.   It was spacious, yet comfortable.  Peeked my head inside the concert venue, and it looked decent.  Like a concert club, but with a great tap list.

going to Bell's?  Look for this sign
The General Store is attached to the side of the building.  This is where you can buy bottles, six-packs, and kegs of most Bell’s offerings.  There is also a ton of memorabilia for sale ranging from pint glasses, to t-shirts, to an entire quiver of Frisbees for Frisbee golf!  There is also a large selection of home brewing equipment ranging from starter kits to fresh hops.

After we left The Eccentric Café, it was time for late night eats.  We hit a place near Western Michigan University’s campus called Menna’s Joint, a place that specializes in late night wraps.  Use your imagination to guess what kind of late night crap we ate.  I recommend the place if you are blind drunk.
Menna's Joint menu

Daniel and James
After our last brewery visit, most of us were too tired to continue, but James met up with a BBA follower and local beer-tuber Daniel Harper (YouTube  handle: TheEndosymbiosis).  Coincidentally he is the beer monger at the one beer store we visited not part of a brewery, Tiffany’s Wineand Spirits.  As soon as I walked into the store, I knew I would love it.  You are greeted by two barrels of olive oil that you can fill up a vessel of your own.  As you walk past the cheese, you enter the land of beer.  It was a great one-stop shop to pick up bottles from the breweries that we visited along with other Michigan beers.  There was also a great selection of regional and national craft beers.  If I were doing my year end review today, Tiffany’s would easily by the number one beer shop I visited this year.
Michigan beers at Tiffany's

We had an epic beer tour of Western Michigan.  I highly recommend and beer enthusiast to follow in our footsteps or make your own in that area.

Thank you for reading all five of my Michigan blogs.

A special thanks goes to:

Craig Kortlandt for being our driver and giving us lodging. 

Dave and Mike from Founders.  You guys were great and run a kick-ass brewery

Tim Surprise from Arcadia.  Great hands-on tour at Arcadia!

All the brewers and brewery employees who we met and chatted with along the journey!

Smoked stout
Oatmeal stout
Milk stout
Smoked Vienna lager
Lost coast beer
Experimental 2011
Experimental 2012
Harvest ale
Pale ale
Amber ale

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