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July 20, 2009

Midwest Trip Part 4: Bell's Eccentric Cafe and Home Again

The final leg of our trip took us from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo, MI before finally making the long trek back to the east coast. After a brief stop for the best donuts ever at Sweetwater's Donut Mill, we landed at Bell's Eccentric Cafe.

After how interesting both Three Floyds and Founders were, we didn't really have much in the way of expectations for this place. But it somehow was able to emerge as the brewpub that we want to return to most. Not to say anything bad about either of the previous two, but each one is just great in its own way.

We only had time to split one beer, as we knew we'd be spending a good chunk of time in the General Store right next door, but we decided to try the Bell's Kal-Haven Ale, one I had never heard of before (and perhaps is a brewpub exclusive?). It's quite good, but I barely remember it as we were sort of sipping while in awe of the large space that we could only assume used to house the large brew tanks that are now located in Galesburg, MI, a few miles down the road.

The space that the brewpub occupies dwarfs that of Three Floyds. It includes, as you can see above, a large outdoor area, split into two sections. The first is immediately as you step out the back door and includes some patio furniture and benches for general outdoor imbibing and chowing down. Next to that there is an even larger area that is grass-covered, with a small stage in the very back of the yard. This would indeed be an excellent place to see some live music in the summer. Too bad we were there at 11:30am.

After we finished up our single beer and poked around a bit, we headed around to the other side of the building that houses the General Store. Here you can buy all sorts of Bell's merchandise from t-shirts to frisbees to COLD BEER TO GO! So of course, this being our final stop, we grabbed as many different single bottles as we could. Then we found something we didn't expect.

They have a whole homebrew supply shop within the General Store! And on top of that, our American Homebrewer's Association memberships would get you a discount on any and all supplies as well. Not bad at all. If only we had more room in the car, we could skipped an order from Norther Brewer and saved on shipping. We jumped back in the car and began the final leg back of non-stop driving, arriving back home JUST after midnight.

When all was said and done, we had traveled a grand total of 2559.6 miles.

And we had amassed these beers (at least, the ones we managed not to drink while we were there):

6 12oz Founder's Porter
4 12oz Founder's Double Trouble
1 22oz Three Floyds Blackheart English Style IPA
1 22oz Three Floyds Apocolypse Cow IPA
1 22oz Three Floyds Popskull Old Braun Ale (collab with Dogfish)
1 750ml Boulevard Smokestack Series Saison
6 12oz New Glarus Dancing Man Wheat
4 12oz New Glarus Imperial Saison
4 12oz New Glarus Bohemian Lager
1 12oz New Glarus Fat Squirrel
2 750ml New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red
2 750ml New Glarus Raspberry Tart
6 12oz Bell's Porter
6 12oz Bell's Expedition Stout
2 12oz Bell's Third Coast Old Ale
2 12oz Bell's Cherry Stout
2 12oz Bell's Oberon
1 12oz Bell's Lager of the Lakes
1 12oz Bell's Third Coast Beer
1 12oz Bell's Amber Ale
1 12oz Bell's Pale Ale
1 12oz Bell's Kalamazoo Stout
1 12oz Bell's Two-Hearted Ale
2 22oz Surly Furious

It was a great trip and it's obvious that a return is necessary. Plus there are so many other great breweries around there that we didn't have any time for. Midwest, you're good at beer.

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