Frequently Asked Questions


Are dogs allowed at your pub, the Eccentric Cafe, or brewery?

Sorry, they are not. The only exception is for those that are visually impaired. 


Can I return or exchange something I purchased either online or at your General Store?

Please call 269-382-5712 for in-store purchases or contact us directly regarding online purchases.


Where are you located?

The Eccentric Café and Bell’s General Store are both located at 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave. in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Our Comstock Brewery is located at 8938 Krum Ave. in Galesburg, Michigan.


Do you offer gift cards?

We do, but they cannot be used for online purchases. You can however order and pay for one over the phone and arrange to have it shipped to you. Please call 269-382-5712 for more information.


Can I book the Eccentric Café or Beer Garden for private events, weddings?

Yes, but there may be some restrictions. Please contact us directly for more information.


Do you host live entertainment?

We do throughout the week at our pub, the Eccentric Café. Take a look at our Event Calendar.


Do you fill or sell growlers?

The Bell's General Store in downtown Kalamazoo does feature a Growler Station with up to four options.

It is important to know before you visit, that our Growler Station does use a counter pressure system to help ensure the quality standards you expect from a Bell's beer. Because we cannot guarantee that other growlers are rated for the same type of pressure, we cannot fill growlers other than the Bell's Growler that we sell online and at our Kalamazoo store. 

You can see what's currently available on our Growler Station by viewing our Growler list toward the bottom of our homepage


My area isn’t listed on your Beer Finder map. When are you coming to my state?

Before we decide to expand to any new state, we want to make sure we have enough beer first. Making sure we can accommodate that demand is very important to us. We plan on growing as we always have - slowly, steadily and with purpose.


Where can I find your beers?

Our beers are available through a wide range of bars, restaurants, and retail accounts. Our Beer Finder can direct you to more detailed information. Please keep in mind that our Beer Finder's results are based on recent deliveries rather than real-time results. We strongly encourage calling ahead before heading out the door. You will also need to contact each venue directly to inquire about the availability of kegs and mini-kegs.


Can I order beer online from you and have it shipped to me?

Sorry, we cannot ship beer directly to consumers. It is illegal here in Michigan.


Where do you source your ingredients?

Whenever possible, we try to source ingredients from our home state of Michigan. This includes the honey we use in Hopslam, the cherry juice used in Cherry Stout and more.

Most of the barley we use is grown in the northern, central portion of the U.S. and parts of lower Canada. Our hops are primarily sourced from the Pacific Northwest, but we do use hops from other parts of the world as well.

The water we use comes from an aquifer beneath the city of Kalamazoo.


Why don’t you list IBUs for your beers?

While IBU information can be very useful for home brewing a clone recipe, it does not always tell the entire story. We choose not to include this info because of the difference between absolute and perceived bitterness.

A great example is the difference between Two Hearted and Expedition Stout.

Two Hearted is generally considered to be a hoppy IPA. Hopslam is also a great example of a hoppy double IPA.

Expedition Stout, a Russian Imperial Stout, actually has more IBUs than either.

If you would still like to know more about a specific beer, please let us know.


Do your beers contain GMOs?

No, they do not. Our general philosophy, as set by our president and founder, Larry Bell, is that we be as GMO free as possible. Most of our beers are made with just hops, barley, water and yeast. Genetically modified version of those ingredients are not commercially available.


Does Bell’s Brewery use preservatives in any of its beers?

No. We do not use sulfites or other preservatives in our beers.


What is the shelf life of a Bell’s beer?

The vast majority of our beers have a shelf life of six months from the day the beer is bottled, canned or kegged. Following the packaging date is a letter/shelf life code. Currently, we are using A, B and C to denote six months, twelve months and unlimited respectively.

Where to find that packaging date

Bottles: Back label

Cases: Exterior

Cans: Bottom

Kegs and mini-kegs: Upper side wall

Some of our stouts are more robust and can withstand storage periods of about a year, provided that they are kept in a cool space. Refrigeration isn't completely necessary for any of our ales, but being kept in areas that are cool and dark is strongly encouraged. Our lagers have a 90-day shelf life.

Hopslam is best enjoyed as soon as possible.

We also make several beers which are specifically brewed to develop and mature over the course of several years. These include Expedition Stout and Third Coast Old Ale, as well as certain special releases, and are ideal for long-term cellaring.


Do Bell’s beers contain any common allergens?

Several of our specialty beers contain ingredients outside of the traditional malt, hops, water and brewer's yeast. These ingredients are listed on the label.

We also make several beers containing significant portions of wheat: Oberon and Oarsman  throughout the year and Winter White during the winter.

Because these wheat beers are made throughout the year, there is a possibility that other beers in our portfolio will contain trace amounts of wheat. We do run barley through our system at the end of every batch of a wheat beer in order to help purge the conveyors of any residual wheat. We urge those allergic to wheat to discuss sensitivity and risk factors with their physician. 

In addition, all of our beers contain gluten, which is a problem for those with celiac disease. Gluten comes not only from wheat but also barley, which is present in every beer we make. Again, if this is a concern, we recommend discussing these matters with a physician.


My beer says it is unpasteurized. Is it safe to drink if stored at room temperature?

Yes, they are safe to drink.

Due to the levels of alcohol and acidity, human pathogens do not survive in beer, so pasteurization is unnecessary from a food-safety standpoint.


Does Bell's brew any gluten-free beers?

No, we do not. All of our beers are made with barley, which contains gluten. Several also contain a portion of wheat.


Are Bell’s beers vegetarian and/or vegan?

Most of our beers are made with just four main ingredients: water, yeast, barley and hops. Anything else will be mentioned on the label as well.

All of our beers meet the criteria for vegetarian status. We do not use isinglass or other animal-derived process aids at any point in the brewing process. A majority of what we brew is unfiltered, except for our lager brands, and we do not use finings in any of those.

With a few exceptions, everything that we package for distribution to bars and stores qualifies not only as vegetarian, but also as vegan. Those exceptions are Hopslam Ale, Sweet Potato Stout, Roundhouse IRA and Eccentric Ale, all of which contain honey. Occasionally, we make other specialty batches typically for our own pub that may have other ingredients; just ask any of our bartenders and they'll be happy to answer your questions.


What are the nutritional data for your beers?

We do not perform any formal nutritional analyses on any of our beers, so we can't tell you how many grams of fat, carbohydrates or fiber are present. If you have specific questions or concerns, please let us know.


I've noticed some sediment in my beer. What is that?

What you are seeing is comprised primarily of yeast and some protein, and its presence is fairly typical for our beer. We do not filter any of our ales.

Most of the yeast cells and malt protein complexes will settle out in the fermenting vessel due to gravity, but some will remain in the finished beer. 

This material will continue to settle out in the bottle, can, keg or mini-keg, forming a layer at the bottom. The color of the sediment can range from a creamy white to a dark tan, depending on the style. There is some variability from batch to batch in the amount of residual yeast, so the thickness of that layer can change.

Depending on the ratio of yeast to protein, some of this sediment will bind together and form particles that are easily roused back into suspension. A cold environment will accelerate the process. In addition, cold temperatures can cause proteins to clump together into what is called chill haze, making the liquid cloudy.

This is completely normal and will not negatively affect the quality of beer or the flavor.

Darker particles are similar, but slightly different. Those are dried out yeast particles that have become dislodged from the walls of our fermenter.

We recommend either pouring the beer into a glass slowly, leaving the last bit of sediment in the bottle or pouring half into a glass, gently rousing the bottle or can, and then finishing your pour. The yeast is a major flavor component to the taste of our beer, especially with Oberon. 


What ingredients do you use in your beer?

There are four main ingredients to a majority of what we brew: water, malted barley and/or wheat, hops and yeast. On occasion, we will add other specialty ingredients, which will be listed on the label or can.

Examples include raspberries, honey, sweet potatoes, cherry juice and coffee.


What type of coupler do you use for kegs?

Our kegs use the standard Sankey “D” coupler.


How do I cellar or store a beer for vintage-aging?

Storing beers in order for them to age is an increasingly popular practice, but can be misunderstood.

Cellaring beer is all about controlling the normal oxidative reactions that take place as beer ages. As with all chemical reactions, they accelerate as the temperature increases. If you refrigerate the beer, these processes will largely come to a halt. That is perfect for most beer, but it defeats the purpose of cellaring. We recommend that consumers keep beer intended for vintage-aging in a cool, dark spot. Basements are ideal, but pantries/closets/etc. work just fine. Having the beer a little below standard room temperature allows for a slow but steady pace. Once the flavor profile is where you want it, either start drinking or put the beer into refrigeration so that reactions slow to a crawl, thus preserving the desired balance. 

Only certain beers are candidates for aging. The alcohol percentage certainly plays a part, but the primary question you need to ask is whether the beer's flavor profile is sufficiently complex that it will undergo aging reactions that contribute positive flavors. The standard pale ale just doesn't have the complexity needed and is just going to end up tasting stale. Beers with an alcohol content of 8% or higher by volume tend to have the necessary attributes, but this isn't always the case.

There is also a difference between an extended shelf life and aging potential. For example, our Java Stout is sturdy enough to withstand a solid year of life after being bottled before it begins to appreciably degrade. Nevertheless, it really won't develop interesting or new flavors as it ages. Beers such as Third Coast Old Ale and Expedition Stout are different: many of the flavor components are pretty raw and unbalanced when they are first bottled. Over time, their flavors will blend and mature in interesting ways, allowing you to compare vintages in a vertical tasting. We feel that this positive maturation process continues for a good five years after the bottling date, and even then they have nearly unlimited shelf life remaining.

Another pitfall to consider is the phrase "bottle conditioned." There is a perception that bottle conditioned beers age better than their filtered counterparts. That is partially true: the secondary fermentation contributes some pleasant flavors, and the yeast population in the bottle absorbs much of the oxygen that would otherwise go down negative oxidation pathways. The downside of yeast remaining in the bottle is that eventually it is going to die, and dead yeast cells are not positive flavor contributors. The key point, again, is whether or not the beer is complex enough to withstand that aspect of aging and incorporate it into the blend. Light-bodied or single-focus/unbalanced beers can be bottle conditioned, and while that might improve their shelf life, it will not turn them into candidates for your vintage beer cellar.


Your label states that the beer is “Best Kept Refrigerated.” What do you mean?

Keeping beer cold will slow the oxidative processes that cause staling, so we recommend refrigeration to maximize the shelf life and insure that the flavor remains as true to our intentions as possible. This remains, however, a recommendation and not a requirement. 

All beer will stale over time; that much is inevitable. To combat this, we go to considerable lengths on the brewing side to minimize the overall potential for oxidation, primarily by protecting against inadvertent exposure to oxygen throughout the process. Some staling will still eventually occur, which brings us to the storage conditions. Oxidative reactions are like any other chemical reactions: they accelerate as the temperature increases. By keeping beer cold, these processes slow dramatically. 

Fortunately, the staling process doesn't occur very quickly at typical ambient temperatures. With proper stock rotation and good sell-through, a retailer may store any Bell's brand outside of a dedicated cooler and the beer will be as fresh and equally enjoyable as beer from any other retailer. Once you get it home, if you have an abundance of refrigerator space, by all means keep all of your beer cold. Otherwise, stash most of it in a cool, dark place and just refrigerate what you can.


Are Bell’s mini-kegs compatible with counter-top dispensing systems?

We have tested two and while we do not endorse them, the Avanti Portable Party Pub and Vinotemp Mini Keg Beer Dispenser seemed to work well.


What is the shelf life of an unopened mini-keg?

Typically, one of our mini-kegs can be stored for several months, provided that you store it in a cool place. Refrigeration is preferable, but not completely necessary. We encourage retailers to keep them cold so that the shelf life with you, the consumer, is maximized. Once you get it home, storage in a cooler would be ideal, but cool spaces such as closets or basements will work just fine.


How long will a mini-keg last once it has been opened?

Our recommendation is to finish the mini-keg within 24-48 hours.

You can probably store it longer, especially if refrigerated with the top vent closed between pours, but our concern is that the carbonation will start to suffer. There isn't any kind of counter-pressure applied to the container that would help hold in the carbonation, so the top seal offers only so much protection, even in the closed position.


How can I tell how old a bottle/can/keg of your beer is?

You can find the actual date of packaging for all of our beer on each can, bottle, keg and mini-keg.

Batches bottled prior to 2011 will only have a batch number printed on the back label. if you have a question about a specific batch, please let us know. 


What is the best way to store your beer?

Think about dark, cool spaces such as pantries or basements if you don't have enough space in your refrigerator. The goal is to minimize exposure to light and heat. 

Beer will stale over time: we do what we can to minimize the potential and to slow it down, but natural oxidative reactions will eventually run their course. Refrigeration slows those reactions down dramatically, extending the shelf life, but keeping it in a cool place such as a pantry or basement is generally sufficient. Keeping the beer away from direct exposure to light will protect against the formation of the compound that creates a perception of a skunky aroma.


Are dogs allowed at your pub, the Eccentric Cafe, or brewery?

Sorry, they are not. The only exception is for those that are visually impaired. 


Do you fill growlers from other breweries?

We do not. Our Growler Station use a counter pressure system to help maintain the quality of the beer we offer. We cannot guarantee that growlers from other locations can safely handle that pressure.

Our Growler Station features up to four options. You can see what's currently on tap by viewing our Growler List, located toward the bottom of our homepage. It is updated as new beers are tapped.


Do you fill or sell growlers?

The Bell's General Store in downtown Kalamazoo does feature a Growler Station with up to four options.

It is important to know before you visit, that our Growler Station does use a counter pressure system to help ensure the quality standards you expect from a Bell's beer. Because we cannot guarantee that other growlers are rated for the same type of pressure, we cannot fill growlers other than the Bell's Growler that we sell online and at our Kalamazoo store. 

You can see what's currently available on our Growler Station by viewing our Growler list toward the bottom of our homepage


What about private tours?

To schedule a private group tour for 10 or more, please email us directly at tours@bellsbeer.com.


Do you allow walk-ins for tours?

Yes, a few spots will be available for walk-ins on a first-come, first-serve basis, so we recommend you arrive early and sign-in with your Tour Guide.


How can I sample Bell’s beer after a tour of your original brewery (B1)?

Our bartenders at the Eccentric Café are extremely knowledgeable about our beer, so if there is something you would like to sample, all you have to do is ask!  Once you find one you like, you are welcome to purchase a beer to bring along on your tour.  Plastic cups are required and available - just let your bartender know when you order!


Do you provide beer samples on tours?

We do provide 2 samples per person at our Comstock location, however anyone wishing to consume our beer must be 21 years of age and able to provide proof with a valid ID. 


Are children allowed on brewery tours?

Yes, children are allowed to accompany an adult, however our brewery is in full-operation and the brew kettles can get quite hot to the touch. We ask that you keep a watchful eye on small children when touring either of our breweries.


Do you offer brewery tours?

We do offer FREE tours at both of our locations – Kalamazoo and nearby Comstock! For more information or to reserve a spot, please go here.


Where are you located?

The Eccentric Cafe and Bell's General Store are both located adjacent to our original (and still operating) brewery at 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave. in downtown Kalamazoo.

Our main brewery is located in nearby Comstock, about 7 miles from our pub. Tours are offered at both locations.

Oberon summer

Made with just malted barley, wheat, hops, yeast and water. That’s it. No spices. And no fruit – unless you add it.