No proper beer trip to Michigan would be complete without a stop at Bell's Eccentric Cafe. On our way in the door, I noticed that I had a message on my phone, and just as soon as we walked in the door, we were right back out on our way to the Bell's production facility (Thanks Bob and Marty!). Their facility is normally not open for public tours, so this was an extra special treat for us.
Driving up to the building, you get the sense that Mr. Bell is not fooling around. The building is a massive steel structure tucked between a couple buildings and a couple fields just a few miles out of town. This location works well for them because that means they have some more room to grow in the future. And that is a good thing for all of us.
We've got a lot of photos, so I'll mostly let them speak for themselves.
The control board in the photo, while functional, is not generally used in production. The brewer runs the operation from a computer room.
There are a lot of green updates to this location, including solar lights, motion detector lights, and a grass rooftop. The barrels on the left are supported by an overhead grid. This allows for easy access for the workers as well as the hoses and other brewing equipment.
This shelf holds beer from previous batches they've brewed (no 9000 yet, we asked) so if they run into any issues, they can check it out. They take quality control seriously here!
Bell's Eccentric Cafe is located about 5 miles from the brewery. It's a giant room with beautiful details in wood and brick. You can order beer at the bar and food at the small window to the right of the bar. Notice the 76 Ale sign hanging on the wall? It comes from the old Terre Haute Brewing Company.
Mike had the Rye Stout, which is something brand new to bottles. The flavor in front was a deep roasted malt with coffee flavors, also kind of like toasty bread. The rye comes through in the middle, and the beer finishes with a full coffee flavor again.
I had the Golden Funk, a 6.5% ABV Sour Ale. The board said it had peppercorn, galangal, and cardamom. I've never heard of galangal before, but wikipedia says it's a root that is used in some Asian dishes. The beer is floral and sour with a funky medicinal flavor. Mike said that the nose reminded him of ketchup flavored potato chips, but I mostly just got a lot of floral notes. It's very interesting and I hope this is just the beginning of their sour offerings.