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Bell's Kalamazoo Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Kalamazoo StoutBell's Kalamazoo Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,494 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,494
Hads: 3,979
Avg: 4.03
pDev: 17.37%
Wants: 180
Gots: 517 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Stout |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-11-2001

Stout brewed with Brewer's Licorice.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bell's Kalamazoo Stout Alström Bros
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Reviews: 1,494 | Hads: 3,979
Photo of burdgod
1.68/5  rDev -58.3%
look: 1 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This was a very disappointing beer. I don't know if i just got a bad bottle or something but mine poured nearly completely flat with absolutely no head. I looked at it and there was literally about 3 bubbles floating around on top. One of my favorite parts of stouts is the nice thick head. I got it at a bar and needless to say i was very upset that I had just wasted $6 on such a terrible beer. Luckily I had some amazing beers as well that night that made up for it.

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Photo of Bighuge
2.12/5  rDev -47.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours black with a creamy brown head. This beer has an off aroma. Smells like b.o. a little bit. A little rancid. Not pleasant at all. The flavor is off as well. Not enjoyable at all. It's stale tasting (but it's in their new packaging so I'm assuming it's actually relatively fresh). Off. Sour. Sour even for Bell's. Nothing enjoyable about this beer at all.

Damn, I wish Bell's would get their shit together already. I'm sick of getting "off" beers from them.

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Photo of interkin3tic
2.18/5  rDev -45.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.25

I did not notice this said "Licorice" on it until I had already taken a sip. So that was my fault for not reading the label I suppose.

Either way, I could not finish this six pack in three weeks.. I forced myself to finish the first bottle, the next day forced down another. The third day I drank half a bottle and then decided I had had enough torturing myself. I poured the remainder of the bottle I was drinking down the sink, left two at work where they disappeared. The last one is still sitting in the back of my fridge months later. I know one day I'll get desperate enough to try it again, perhaps I will find something in it I didn't before. But I'm scared.

It tastes like licorice dissolved in beer. If I liked licorice, I'm sure this would be very good. But I HATE licorice.

Again, I really fault myself rather than the beer, but honestly, I hated this beer.

I bought it because I like Bell's. Their double cream, and dopplebock are in my top ten beers, the expedition stout almost makes the top ten. But Kalamazoo Stout is my least favorite beer of all time, and Bell's Oberon is my second least favorite.

I really appreciate that Bell's has such variety and strong tastes, but that necessarily means that you're not going to like some of it.

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Photo of semihobo
2.25/5  rDev -44.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Time to drink this, batch 8652 from July.

Thick, black, totally opaque. Gorgeous head that forms a meniscus on the glass before slowly dropping, leaving sheets on the sides as it does.

Smells of a locker room: sweat and mice. Stale coffee and a faint bit of earthy hops. Burnt chocolate emerges as it warms.

Astringent and much drier than expected. Toasted whole wheat, overwarmed acidic coffee, tobacco... these sharp, smoky herbal flavors could be the licorice? Tough to recognize without the signature sweetness of licorice candy. Moderate dull hop bitterness on the finish.

Thick body, fairly creamy mouthfeel with a gentle but peppery carbonation.

Tastes like old musty cigar smoke... this is slightly below average for the style. Maybe some sweetness for balance or some other dimensions?

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Photo of KatieS5643
2.34/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Not a fan of this beer. But I do not usually like stouts. It is a dark brown beer with a strong scent to be expected. It tased dry, bitter, and had an overwhelming roasted flavor. It is not the worst Stout I've had

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Photo of kbraniga
2.34/5  rDev -41.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

The flavor of this beer, after the coffee-chocolate of a good stout, was vegetal and over-mashed. It left an unpleasant bitterness inside my mouth. While I love licorice, it did not blend with the taste of the stout, and did not improve the experience. I have enjoyed arrogant bastard and nosferatu, and the bitterness did not work to the beer's advantage. This beer was not well executed and I had no desire to finish it.

Served cold from bottle into glass, leaving yeast in bottle. 2 fingers of beautiful tan head that lingered for 15 minutes. Great black color. Initial taste was fine with the licorice adding an interesting layer, followed by one of the worst lingering tastes I have ever experienced in a beer. The mouthfeel was viscous without being dense. I could not drink more than 1/2 of this beer.

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Photo of AleYes
2.53/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

The label on the back not describing the beer should've been a good clue. Opened cold - tasted - wasn't much, but it is a stout, so of course I let it warm up. At cool still not impressive. Up to about 55 degrees and still a flat, slightly watery unimpressive stout. It poured dark, giving me hope. Head was flat and dissipated quickly. Had light milk chocolate and coffee flavors, and hints of more complex flavors, but it never got there. The flavors didn't meld, was unveven in the mouth. Light mouthfeel, neither sweet nor bitter. Would not recommend it to a serious stout drinker.

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Photo of jtierney89
2.65/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pitch black color with a thick mocha head. Rich cocoa nibs and chocolate on the nose with touches of asphalt and anisette. Bitter black coffee as well.

On the fuller side of medium bodied. A little watery in certain parts of the mouth; underneath the tongue and on the finish. Slight sweetness balanced by a pronounced bitterness that lingers a little while. Flavors are a lot like whats on the nose. Licorice plays a big part in the finish but other wise everything's pretty subdued.

A drinkable stout but it leaves a lot to be desired.

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Photo of pweis909
2.66/5  rDev -34%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Aroma – nothing strong, but smells remind me of molasses and chocolate, but also off aromas, like metal and rotten egg.

Dryer taste than the porter, no hops, dry finish. Bland

Texture seems thin, unimpressive.

Appearance is like porter, but with fuller head with large bubbles that are quick to dissapate.

My most disappointing Bells brew. I will give it another try sometime, as it seems like I had a bad bottle (see aroma). The Bells Porter beat this stout handsdown.

EDIT: Just read some other reviews and I don't seem to be the only one who has found the smell off-putting. Could be a more extensive problem

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Photo of Floydster
2.68/5  rDev -33.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 ounce bottle acquired in a trade with MuenchenerKindl, thanks for providing this generous extra

Split with my friend tonight, poured into my Ommegang glass agressively

Color was pretty black but could faintly see through it in the light, light tan head that was about a half inch tall and stuck around for close to ten minutes surprisingly, not much lacing

Smell had black licorice unfortunately which was an immediate heads up for me, some dark roasted malt, faint chocolate aroma, also some small scents of caramel and milk

Taste was a little nasty in my opinion even though the licorice was not as powerful as it was in the smell, not enough chocolate to balance it still though, some hoppiness used in attempt to settle the malt down but it failed in my opinion, could not really tell what kind of hops were used either, thought this would be much sweeter but it was just a weird dry and funky stout overall

Body was pretty thin and highly carbonated, taste went away pretty quickly as well, definitely not a creamy mouthfeel like the Double Cream I drank before this

Could not drink more than another bottle of this if that, too heavy, alcohol is low but it is filling, the black licorice taste makes it hard to get down as well, not very drinkable, not smooth

Pretty disappointed with this one for the most part, do not think it measures to any of the other Bell's stouts I have tried, not worth seeking out if this beer is unavilable to you like it is for me, stick with some of the other Bell's brews

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Photo of Thickfreakness
2.75/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Batch 9801

A- Pours charcoal black into my DFH glass. A thin whisp of a head fades quickly and leaves little pools of dark tan foam lying on the surface. This one lies pretty flat with no carbonation to speak of.

S- Licorice and coffee candy are the first things that hit the nose. Has some spicy notes of Birch Beer/Root Beer. Lots of roasted chocolate maltiness. Not as lively in the nose as I was hoping for.

T- Day old iced coffee, licorice, chocolate twizzlers, and root beer hard-candy. Some charred malt, no hops at all. Not a whole lot going on here.

M- Like licorice water. I've had iced coffee thicker than this. This is pretty limp. No body, creaminess, or carbonation.

O- Hard to believe that the same brewer that makes Expedition, makes this watered down, flat stout. I guess I can tick this off the list and never be wanting one again.

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Photo of Grant_Satterthwaite
2.79/5  rDev -30.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.25

Easily the worst stout I've ever had. Some guy at a local beer store recommended it to me over the Left Hand Milk Stout. What a poor brew. The taste was bland and it took forever to drink. One beer took me about 45 minutes to suffer through. I'm a big fan of Bell's brewery but this beer is simply pathetic. I would suggest avoiding this beer at all costs. It's simply not worth the time to drink it or the money to pay for it.

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Photo of dgilks
2.88/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very dark brown with a slightly orange highlight. Small tan head. Poor head retention.

Earthy with a spritzy, spicy alcohol note. For me there is a fair amount of sweet, fusel alcohols here. Not great.

Sweet malt with a touch of chocolate. Fusel alcohols. Not good.

Medium-thin body with moderate carbonation. Okay.

For me there is something wrong here. The alcohol note is slightly acetone like and fusel-y. Further, the malt character doesn't have the chocolately, coffee, roasty note expected of the style.

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Photo of teromous
2.9/5  rDev -28%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: It has a nice dark shade of brown...it appears black but just looking at it I get a slight brown hue to the blackness which is neat. The head is perfect on this beer. It's a fluffy tan head that stays up for a long time, not too big or too small...with excellent lacing.

S: The scent in this beer is very subdued. I get a very faint caramel scent along with what smells like dates. It has a nearly Belgian scent but it's very faint.

T: The beer doesn't have a whole lot of flavor either. It has a large amount of bitterness. There's a charcoal bitterness in after drinking. There's a kind of spicy flavor to the beer as well. There is some sweetness in the beer but it comes like this...drink...no flavor...sweetness...strong bitterness...sweetness. There is a candy+hop flavor in the aftertaste.

M: The mouthfeel is pretty good but the beer feels very light and thin. I wish it had more body and presence.

O: Overall I'd say that the appearance and some of the uniqueness in flavor of the beer's taste balance out the shortcomings of body and "traditional' stout flavor. It's a beer that makes you want to take a second sip after the first because you can't really figure out what flavors your taste-buds are pointing you towards. I didn't get a lot of coffee, caramel, chocolate, etc from the beer and I thought it was actually quite thin. It's a tossup.

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Photo of Erish
2.92/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into an English pint glass.

A: dark brown, nearly opaque, lovely cappuccino-colored head that falls into a persistent cap with nice lacing.

S: coffee, spoiled milk, soy sauce, hint of chocolate.

T: spoiled milk, coffee, farmer's cheese, the middle is soy sauce, chocolate milk, and the finish is off-dry mocha, earthiness, and some lingering hop bitterness. To be honest, this beer was entirely disappointing.

M: medium-bodied, slick, somewhat watery.

D: Maybe I got a bad batch, but I have to say this beer tasted off and was not harmonious at all.

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Photo of NODAK
2.92/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Smell on this one is pretty straight forward, I think. Very malty, very chocolatey. Standard, but pretty good.

For a stout, mouthfeel is pretty thin here. I'm actually surprised by it.

Taste is pretty malty with roasted chocolate flavors mixed in with some tanginess...perhaps that's the licorice that's advertised on the bottle. Finish is full of bitter chocolate and a little sourness too. Some alcohol is even noticeable as well.

As far as stouts go, I don't think this would be among my top choices, as the chocolate is a bit on the bitter side for me, and it's just too thin. Pretty average.

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Photo of Cavery
2.92/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz shared with Klym, poured into Stone Nonics. Bottle was an extra courtesy of SpdKilz.

A: More of a thin film than any actual head formation. cinnamon dusted brown bubbles over a motor oil brown body. This beer moves pretty violently and reflects the ABV in that it's lower alcohol. No red flags, but I'm skeptical.

S: A rootbeer like note from black licorices. Coffee crackers/biscuits come through with a promisingly pastry like note. The smell is certainly more promising than the look. The licornice smell does seem a bit "off" in some ways though. The end of the licorice note blends with cheap coffee liqueurs to create a stout inspired cocktail flavor. This is a bit shocking considering the ABV.

T: Hmm, where did the stout go? Shockingly absent flavor that only flirtatiously suggests coffees and woody licorice. The wood flavor in this beer is more like sawdust. Sweet hidden notes of anise come forward to add a dissonant flavor to the soggy wood shavings. Not very enticing. Coffee does appear to be more there in the finish.

M: This is really quite watery. At no point in the drinking process did I ever feel like I had a dark beer in my hand. The mouth really made me feel like I had some sort of young wood infused light-bodied porter. The watery character becomes a very frustrating factor in the drinkability of this brew.

O: Not the best showing from Bells, but I'd say licorice is a hard flavor to balance in a single style stout. There's no real bite to any of the flavors, and that's something that really bothers me. As someone that is really quite the flavor fiend, I can't help but feel frustrated by a strong flavor ingredient being subdued by the nature of the body feel and complimentary flavors. I just don't understand why they'd bother with licorice if it ends up being so dissonant in such a light bodied stout. Perhaps this used to be a classic, or even one of the breweries first beers; but it really feels like a novelty. Just because an ingredient should work on paper, doesn't mean it works in execution. Go big and imperial with your licorice, or risk being a dissonant and imbalanced single stout.

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Photo of jwhawkins81
2.93/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Batch 9457 Packed on 11/19/2009 tasted on 3/31/2010

Aroma - Dark roasted malts with a hint of sweetness with a light aromatic hop aroma in the background

Appearance - Dark with a big light brown head that slowly dissipated

Taste - Sharp hop bitterness upfront with hints of coffee and roast but that hop bitterness is overpowering

Notes - Plenty of carbonation

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Photo of clvand0
2.93/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This one pours a very dark color with a small brown head that leaves a small bit of lacing on the glass. The aroma was comprised of roasted malts and hints of coffee and chocolate. The flavor was much the same as the aroma: mostly roasted malts, coffee and chocolate with possibly a hint of caramel. I didn't find anything special about this brew and there are other milk stouts that better represent the style.

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Photo of theboozecruise
2.94/5  rDev -27%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - dark with a really small head. Not black but a dark brown.

S - kinda weak really. I'm not picking up much licorice. It's a standard stout aroma really.

T - Theres a little licorice here but nothing overwhelming. Just a middle of the road stout.

M - just average here. Nothing too exciting but nothing taking away from my enjoyment.

D - I've had better stouts. From Bell's. It's just decent to me.

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Photo of Ragingbull
2.97/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Black in color with a mocha colored head after pouring from a bottle. Nose is so faint that I am not even able to place it. It teases, but doesn't make itself available. Coffee flavor is very strong and there appears to be a strong flavor of anise that I am guessing comes from the brewer's licorice. Heavy smoke flavor. I rated it a C but must admit that it varied from many of the "normal" stouts you might try so it almost dares you to try and pin it down.

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Photo of maggotbrain
2.97/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

The beer is a deep black color with a thick tan head, which has receded to a thin film. Each sip produces rings of lace down the sides of the glass. Attractive.

The beer has an odd sour smell, sort of like old milk.

In terms of flavor, this beer is okay. It has an odd mix of roasted bitterness against a mildly sour background. The flavor is a bit thin. This beer looks bigger than it tastes.

The mouthfeel is about right for a stout, a bit thick with low carbonation.

As far as drinkability goes, this beer is not the best. The flavor isn’t engaging enough for me to want another, and I have a feeling that the thickness of this beer would get to me after a while.

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Photo of JDV
2.99/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thank you to DrBayern for this bottle
Pours basically opaque black with a sticky staying big tan head. Smell is big and roasty at first, with some dryness about it. As it opened up I didn't enjoy the smell quite as much. Tastes of dry, unsweetened roastiness but with a tart soy flavor creeping up more and more as I drank it. Creamy, nice body and mouthfeel with good a carbonation level, but I get the roast & "soy" flavor more than coffee and chocolate. Still not bad, but just had a component I'm not crazy about.

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Photo of merlin48
3/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle, no freshness date. Pours a deep, opaque brown, essentially black. Small tan head falls flat in seconds. No lacing.

Aroma is a bit subdued, with chocolate and roasty dark malts. A faint note of floral hops.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, but seems low on carbonation. A mild, peppery hops bite on the tongue.

Taste is dark roasted malts, with predominant coffee and cocoa. Alcohol is well hidden. There is a sour flavor noted midway through that is difficult to pinpoint. I wouldn't call it a fruity sour, and it is a definite distraction. There is very little carbonation in the taste. Smooth and rich, and quite drinkable, but this isn't up to par with other Bell's I've tried.

Somewhat disappointed in this one. Bottle appears to be fresh, and has been stored properly, to the best of my knowledge. Possibly, an off-bottle here, judging from other reviews. Lack of carbonation and the mysterious sour element in the taste are my reasons for wondering about this one.

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Photo of dmarch
3.01/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Man I was pumped up about this beer, my first from Bell's. Looks nice. Pitch black with a thick tan head. Roasted coffee and a little bit of chocolate in both the aroma and the taste. Very sweet. But then there is that off flavor. Tastes like a plum that's a bit stale. It adds a bit of sourness that I find quite undisirable. I know Bell's has a reputation for being inconsistant at bottling, but I haven't got one yet that blew me away.

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Bell's Kalamazoo Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
90 out of 100 based on 1,494 ratings.