Our beer blogger makes a long overdue pilgrimage to Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo. Plus: the best summer beers, Sprecher's “Toast it with a Post-It,” the Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival at Bayshore and more.

I’ve been waiting a long while to get to Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. It finally happened last week when I visited the Eccentric Café — the Bell’s version of a taproom. It’s only a four-hour drive (if Chicago cooperates) from Milwaukee, and I recommend staying overnight.

The beer list includes regulars like Oberon and Two Hearted, but it also features quite a few Café-only brews that encompass a wide range of styles. The first beer I tried was the Honey Hearted. It’s a hefty 16.3% IPA sipper that is sweet, potent and reminded me a little bit of Dogfish Head 120. I followed that up with a Double Two Hearted, a gloriously smooth and citrusy IIPA that takes the already delicious Two Hearted to a new level.

The Eccentric Café space is huge but inviting, and the food menu looked pretty good. I reluctantly ordered the jambalaya after being told by my server that it was a house specialty. I realize that Michigan isn’t known for its Cajun food, but the jambalaya was amazing. And, the Double Two Hearted was a perfect match for the spice.

Bell’s has been one of my favorite breweries for a long time. The pilgrimage to Kalamazoo was well worth the gas money.

Summer Brews

Some Milwaukee Magazine colleagues and I put together a list of summer beers to consider. Feel free to improvise and add your own favorites as you stock your fridge or cooler. I’d like to add New Glarus Bubbler to the list. Check out why below.

Barley Pop of the Week

I like a good hefeweiss in the summer, and New Glarus Bubbler fits the bill. It’s got the banana and clove thing going on and a finish that is refreshing and fairly crisp. It’s a great choice for when the heat suggests that you put the IPAs away for a while.

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Quick Taps

Here’s a quick tip. Call Tess (2499 N. Bartlett Ave.) at 414-964-8377 on Thursday, June 16 to reserve a spot at the Central Waters beer dinner that is scheduled for July 12. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

I like the Sprecher Brewery and WKLH “Toast it with a Post-It” promo. Put your best artistic foot forward and enter a design that might look good if it was created entirely of Post-It notes and placed on a 48” x 39” window at Sprecher Brewing. The eventual winner gets free beer for a year from Sprecher and a chance to DJ on “Hey Mom I’m on KLH” (please play good stuff). Find out more.

Half Acre beers showed up kind of by surprise at a place or two in Milwaukee last week. The Chicago brewery makes some great seasonal and on-offs and I’m guessing they’d like to be in Wisconsin now that Revolution is. Just a thought.

Events Brewing

Wednesday, June 15: Fruit beers are the subjects of the weekly meeting of the Milwaukee Beer Society at Best Place (901 W. Juneau Ave.). The tasting runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and costs $10.

Wednesday, June 15: The Brass Tap (7808 W. Layton Ave.) isn’t messing around with its welcome to Stone Brewing. Get reacquainted with the top-notch brewery by trying one of eight Stone brews on the tap lines. The menu includes the outstanding Ruination Imperial IPA and Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Wednesday, June 15: Ray’s Growler Gallery (8930 W. North Ave.) is handing over the taps to The Fermentorium, a relatively new brewery in Cedarburg, at 5 p.m.

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Thursday, June 16: I’ve learned a lot at Landmark Lanes (2220 N. Farwell Ave.) over the past two decades (not all of the lessons were good, but educational nonetheless). Lakefront’s Jim Klisch is offering tutelage on the fine art of beer at Landmark from 7 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, June 16: Honeypie (2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) is getting a special firkin from the folks at Oskar Blues. Get there at 6 p.m. to try some.

Thursday, June 16: The Uber Tap Room (1048 N. Old World Third St.) is pairing four cheeses and four sausages with four beers from Raised Grain. Yep, you read that right. There’s no reason not to attend and the deliciousness costs just $14.

Friday, June 17: Hinterland takes over the taps at the Humboldt Park beer garden (3000 S. Howell Ave.).

Saturday, June 18: Beers for dad are the subject of the weekly sampling at both Three Cellars locations (7133 S. 76th St., Franklin and N72 W13400 Lund Lane, Menomonee Falls) from 1 to 4 p.m.

Saturday, June 18: The outstanding Wisconsin Beer Lovers Festival takes place at Bayshore Town Center (5800 N. Bayshore Dr.) from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are available to try some tasty Wisconsin-made brews.

Saturday, June 18: I talked about Ray’s Growler Gallery’s birthday party last week. Get there at 5 p.m. (or earlier) to ensure that you get some of the amazing stuff that Ray’s is tapping to celebrate. You will likely never see Perennial 17 Mint Chocolate Stout, Weyerbacher Sunday Morning Imperial Stout and the amazing Central Waters Cassian Sunset Imperial Stout at the same place ever again.

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