Thursday, July 27, 2006

Olde Peninsula Brewpub & Restaurant (Kalamazoo, MI)

Olde Peninsula was a good experience. I hit it early, right when it opened on a Friday morning on the way out of town. The atmosphere was nice, but 11 a.m. is a bit dead to check that out. The pub looked a little TGIFridays w/ period stuff on the walls. Not bad.  Food was good. Several vegetarians options for me, which generally means it's a little upscale and used to serving a few non-meat eaters. The vegetarian pizza was very good, but not out of this world. Salad was weak, but I didn't mind.  Beer is adequate, but nothing I'm going to drive  out of the way for. If you're in town, go to Bell's Eccentric Cafe if it's open; otherwise OP will do in a pinch.

Bell's Eccentric Cafe (Kalamazoo, MI)

Bell's Eccentric Cafe was a full beer geek stop after a long drive through Chicago (from Minnesota) to stop for the night. The building is brick and not overly furnished. Some nice beer pieces on the wall, but almost has the feel of a buddy's decorated basement: comfortable and easy to drink all night in. Except, it isn't air conditioned, and even w/ many of the people outside listening to the band, it was very hot in spite of being 8:00 at night when I arrived. A visit at a time other than summer might be better, but the beer is well worth the sweat.

Being from Minnesota, I get the standard Bell's beers, but I miss out on many others. I started with a Belgian Dubbel--Hell Hath No Fury, a high alcohol malty Belgian that went straight to my head. Very good. Followed that w/ Two Hearted from the Firkin, which was also excellent and a fine treat to have Bell's on cask. vFinished the tasting with barleywine, simply known as Old Ale, a high alcohol but extremely smooth beer that I sipped for a long time.

Staff was extremely helpful, and really knew how to handle and pour a beerthe kind of love of presentation that makes drinking feel like an event. Food looked good. You order at a window and get it yourself. Many people were eating, but I was a bit late and the kitchen had just closed.

Conjure up an excuse to drive through Kalamazoo for any reason, stop and hit Bell's.

3/17/13: While posting this BeerAdvocate review to the blog, I perused the Bell's website on the cafe and it seems that the number of beers on tap and the range of food offerings have increased significantly since my visit nearly seven years ago.  I definitely need to find an excuse to hit Bell's again.

Kraftbrau Brewery (Kalamazoo, MI)

Closed according to BeerAdvocate.  

Stopped at Kraftbrau en route to Bell's across the street (their parking lot is easier to see than Bell's which is behind the brewery). A band was playing, but they waved the $10 cover so that I could have a beer--maybe because I simply turned around when I saw the stiff cover and decided they had nothing to lose by letting me in.  
A very cool old brick building sticking straight up on the corner of the lot. Looks like other stuff used to be around it, but this is the last one standing. Inside has a close, dark, closeted feel with a small stage opposite of the bar. 

The place seems to be more music than beer, but the beer was ok. Nothing stood out as stellar, though the Amber Ale was very smokey and almost tasted like a Rauchbier, which I didn't mind but it might have scared many of the regular patrons. Unless the band was just pulling in a lot of macro types, all I heard at the bar was "give me something light." The hefe seemed to be doing well and was the heaviest thing going out for most of the drinkers. All the beers were drinkable, which was good because it was hot and didn't seem air conditioned at all. 

Ok stop for the samples and to see a new variety of brewpub.