For more than two decades, Bell’s Brewery has been a go-to spot in Kalamazoo for beer and live music. Get the lowdown on this popular hot spot, take a video tour and ogle the photo gallery.
BELL’S BREWERY ECCENTRIC CAFE AND BEER GARDEN
Address: 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007
General Store Box Office Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (269) 382-2332 or (269) 382-5712
Booking inquiries: IRonk@BellsBeer.com
This content is sponsored by Bell’s Brewery.
Two venues, both bringing in top-tier talent, coupled with America’s favorite craft beer — what more could a music fan ask for?
With as much musical variety over the course of the year as there are beers on tap, Bell’s Eccentric Café in Kalamazoo offers a little something for everyone.
Whether it’s an intimate back room show with just 400 attendees, or a festive summertime gathering in the garden with upward of 1,000 fans, Bell’s provides a unique experience that gives guests a taste of genre-spanning local, regional and national touring acts in a pair of settings like none other in the 269 area code.
Hosting close to 200 shows a year between the two spaces, entertainment manager Carly Buzz points to Bell’s capacity as the factor that sets this venue apart from others in the area. That, along with Bell’s top-of-the-line sound system and, of course, the beer.
“I think we fill a niche in Kalamazoo where our capacity is in that 400-range and the next step up is the Kalamazoo State Theatre (capacity 1,550), also an amazing venue to go see music in,” Buzz said.
“After that you are looking at the club scene. We’ve got Louie’s Trophy House and Old Dog Tavern that host music, Arcadia down the street does some things, but they are all on a little smaller scale. We offer a really great experience here and to come and see a show is something really special.”
Walking into the Beer Garden for a show amidst a nice summer breeze with the sun still high in the sky is a special experience. But with 160 to 180 shows packing the Back Room year round, the indoor venue offers its own small-scale familial vibe.
Visitors to the Back Room are treated to a long, well-staffed bar at the back of the venue featuring all Bell’s beers currently on tap, an upstairs nook where listeners can sit and enjoy a birds-eye view of the night’s show and an open floor perfect for dancing. High-top tables ring the perimeter for those who desire a seat but still want to be able to see the show from up close.
“We have been doing music inside for 20-plus years now,” Buzz said. “At first, it was just in the front bar on that tiny little stage, but when we built the Back Room in 2010, that sort of upped the ante a little bit.”
Music fans heading into the Back Room over the past year have had the opportunity to take in everything from prominent up and coming Michigan bands like The Accidentals and Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers to bigger name national touring acts such as Karl Denson, Elephant Revival, Over the Rhine, Of Montreal and The Jeff Austin Band.
With the larger capacity outdoors, the venue has brought even bigger names to the Beer Garden.
“Outside, we have had some really great shows the past couple years: George Clinton & The Parliament Funkadelic, Bruce Hornsby, and of course, Greensky Bluegrass opens up the Garden (for three straight nights),” Buzz said. “We’ve been lucky enough to do some hip-hop shows, a lot of funk, a lot of jam, some rock ‘n’ roll shows every now and then, some reggae. We try to mix it up a lot, keep it exciting.”
This summer, noteworthy acts coming in include The New Pornographers on Aug. 17 and Raekwon of the Wu Tang Clan on Sept. 1, just to name a few.
Aside from multiple shows a week, there are plenty of other marquee events occurring throughout the year at Bell’s, from the St. Patty’s Day Pub Run to the Bell’s to Bell’s Bike Ride, Movie Nights in the Garden, Oktoberfest, Eccentric Day and more.
In addition to a bustling restaurant on site, the General Store (which also serves as the box office for musical events) and a beautiful outdoor patio where folks can enjoy drinks or a meal in nicer weather, daily occurrences at Bell’s also include the opportunity to take a brewery tour — something one can’t get at just any venue.
“We like to keep it interesting around here,” Buzz said. “The beer clearly is what brings everybody in. It’s what we’re known for. We just try to match the quality of our beer with the experiences we provide.”
Given that Bell’s is a brewery, all music shows are age 21 and up. — By Ryan Boldrey
Get a full schedule of upcoming shows at bellsbeer.com.
VIDEO: TOUR BELL’S BREWERY ECCENTRIC CAFE & BEER GARDEN
Video by David Specht
PHOTO GALLERY: BELL’S BREWERY
Photos by Derek Ketchum