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

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

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BA SCORE
89
very good

3,848 Ratings
THE BROS
83
good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,848
Reviews: 1,506
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.8%
Wants: 172
Gots: 455 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,848 | Reviews: 1,506
Photo of teromous
2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
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.

Photo of jmalina121
2.9/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This beer has a rich brown color and an aroma of coffee beans. It has a bitter, roasted flavor, as well as notes of black licorice and chocolate.

Photo of Erish
2.92/5  rDev -26.6%
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.

Photo of NODAK
2.92/5  rDev -26.6%
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.

Photo of Cavery
2.92/5  rDev -26.6%
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.

Photo of jwhawkins81
2.93/5  rDev -26.4%
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

Photo of clvand0
2.93/5  rDev -26.4%
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.

Photo of theboozecruise
2.94/5  rDev -26.1%
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.

Photo of MonkeyBread
2.95/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thin, watery, terrible body. No interesting tastes, just bland nothingness. Barely any smell. This is an awful stout.

Photo of Ragingbull
2.97/5  rDev -25.4%
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.

Photo of maggotbrain
2.97/5  rDev -25.4%
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.

Photo of Raziel313
2.99/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Very average beer. Not great, not bad

Photo of JDV
2.99/5  rDev -24.9%
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.

Photo of merlin48
3/5  rDev -24.6%
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.

Photo of dmarch
3.01/5  rDev -24.4%
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.

Photo of mikul93
3.01/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A Pours black with medium viscosity. Nice healthy light tan head with heavy lacing.

S A bit one dimensional. I get a tad bit of roast, but all I'm really smelling is the licorice. It actually smells a little like soy sauce.

T Again, all I'm really getting is the licorice. It hits the tongue immediately and finishes with it as well. I'm not getting any coffee or malt. Some bitter hops at the end, but just slight.

M It's a clean drinking beer. It's easy to drink and actually refreshing.

O Disappointed with this beer. Was looking forward to it but I will definitely not be seeking this out again.

Photo of Klym
3.03/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to SPDKilz for hooking Cavery up with this! Also, thanks to Cavery for sharing. Poured into a Stone nonic.

A: Black, slightly tanned and very spongy head with spider lacing. Looks good for a single stout.

S: Chocolate with a pretty defined lactose character, brown sugar, dark fruits, a little roast and some caramel. Lots of sweet things swimming around but more of a lactose air than an overly sweet one.

T: How bizarre. No lactose and not a great deal of sweetness in the taste. Hits with a little chocolate, brown sugar, and dark fruits then the taste almost completely goes empty besides some linger, and then a bitter coffee/dark chocolate/char taste kicks in and finishes it out. Very subdued flavors that die off very quickly.

M: Plenty of carbonation in this which is nice. I can't criticize the mouthfeel too much but it's awkward that it's probably more of a centerpiece to this beer than the flavors, as the mouthfeel lasts longer and provides more of an attention-grabbing sensual experience. Hard to have an amazing mouthfeel when there's not too much flavor to accompany it.

O: Glad I tried this and very happy to try some bells things, but this was pretty mediocre. Volume definitely needs to be turned up on the flavors and their development. If the same flavors were amped, this would be an easy B or B+. As it is, hard to really recommend this beer unless you like your stouts unusually light and fleeting.

Photo of KevChiTown
3.04/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Not bad, a little disappointed with Bells lately. Kalamazoo needs a little something more to be better then just above average. I don't really pick up the licorice, but I do get a nice amount of dark coco. I would drink again, but I wouldn't go out of my way to search for it.

Photo of dmamiano
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This beer poured a beautiful think egggshell colored head that left nice lacing on the glass as it was consumed.
The color was very typical of a stout, black with no light able to get through this beer. Mouth feel was very average, although highly carbonated.
As far as the taste of the beer itself, I found it very average at best for a stout. Had a fairly bitter finish with lingering flavors of coffee.

Photo of jonziefle
3.05/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Poured a deep, opaque black. Two finger dark khaki head, with excellent retention. Moderate lacing.

Smell: Smokey burnt malts, chocolate and coffee. Syruppy sweetness.

Taste: Very smokey malts, with plenty of bitterness (not the bad kind). Burnt chocolate is a very strong flavor. The sweetness is light and comes on too late to balance out the burnt character. A slight buttery taste as well. Dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied, with a nice bitter bite to start. Smooth, but not overly so.

Drinkability: An overly burnt tasting stout, that doesn't have much else in it to balance it out.

Buy Again? No.

Photo of polisanl
3.07/5  rDev -22.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark in color with 2 fingers worth of tan head. Laced through out with a good amount of carbonation. Not much of a nose here. Flavor is robust. Lots of burnt malts and strong coffee. Heavier part of medium thickness in mouthfeel. Would definitely not be on the top of the stout style IMO.

Photo of Sydney10
3.08/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Visual: Pours an attractive dark chocolate color.
Smell: Intense smell of coffee.
Taste: Burnt coffee overwhelms the taste of the beer. Light chocolate and black licorice flavors as well.
Overall: Very bitter and taste is too much related to coffee. I would not drink this again.

Photo of soilguy
3.11/5  rDev -21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pint glass arrived with a nice, creamy, thick tan head. I must say that the appearance of that glass as the server brought it was the best part of the beer. A nice lace coated the glass from the top to the last drop. It has a slightly sweet, faintly licorice odor. It also had a fairly noticeable licorice flavor that I personally didn't care for. A nice roastiness tried to chase it away, and that is what saved the beer and made it drinkable. It did have a full, substantial mouthfeel. Overall, I thought it was adequate but unremarkable.

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.12/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dispensed from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. Huge, mocha head forms and stays around for a long time, leaving copious amounts of lace down the side of the glass. Pitch black, opaque colored beer.

Aroma is burnt grains, mustiness, and mettalic aromas close to battery acid. Not a lot of chocolate or coffee or anything else I usually find in stouts. Just smells like beer.

Bitter burnt grains with some minimal chocolate and coffee flavors. Mostly bready with a hint of smoke.

Not really a sweet or milk stout if you ask me. Certainly isnt sweet. Bitter flavors abound and the finish is bitter, borderline astringent. Drinkabilty is lower due to the bitterness of the beer overall and its astringency. Medium mouthfeel. Very Average Stout.

Photo of StuyBeerGuy
3.13/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

The beer pours with an enticing dark color and a thin purple head that fizzes off quickly

This beer has a soft aroma of fermented soy sauce and licorice.

The flavor underwhelms after a season of stouts to celebrate Saint Patrick's and the mouthfeel lingers, a characteristic of beer that I normally enjoy but in this case was unfortunate.

I will try some more of Bell's Brewery's offerings since I have heard positive comments about the beers but do not believe I will return to their stout.

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
89 out of 100 based on 3,848 ratings.