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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.

1,488 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 1,488
Hads: 3,940
Avg: 4.03
pDev: 17.37%
Wants: 176
Gots: 495 | FT: 11
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
Reviews: 1,488 | Hads: 3,940
Photo of jporf911
3.87/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz brown bottle with no freshness date.The cover shows a black-and-white sketch of what really looks a friggin serial killer. Leave it to serial killers to put licorice in their beer. Seriously, it looks like the unibomber with less hair and more anger. Hopefully you won't see me on CNN after I drink this. (Note- according to the website, the label art varies by bottle, but it's all portraits of creepy old men done by a local Michigan artist from what I can tell).

Appearance- 3.5 out of 5. This beer is black. Imagine that. It's pretty hard to grade the appearance of stouts since the only distinguishable problem would be that they weren't opaquely-black. The head is a little disappointing, not even one finger, but it's a nice dark brown color.

Smell- 4 out of 5. Most Stouts smell somewhat roasted. This one smells straight up burned-- not in a bad way, mind you. It's just more powerful than usual, reminiscent of the smoke itself instead of just roasted barley. The other high note in the nose is the unusually strong scent of hops, which are often only used in small quantities in Stouts; then again, American brewers love throwing hops into damn near any fermenting brew they can get their hands in. A bit of coffee shows up as well.

Taste- 4 out of 5. The hops aren't nearly as strong in the taste as they are in the smell, but the smokiness remains. With the combination of baking chocolate and a slight tinge of sweetness, it tastes like a Smores cooked over thick wood smoke; I can taste the charred wood in addition to the chocolate. The licorice is rather difficult to distinguish from the other tastes but provides a pleasant undertone. It's definitely not the main flavor, which had concerned me when I initially read the label. The bittersweet aftertaste leaves smoky malt and pine hops, like walking through a forest of smoldering Christmas trees.

Mouthfeel- 4 out of 5. Thick and chewy, like a liquid smores that someone held too long over the flames. Luckily, it goes down smooth.

Drinkability- 3.5 out of 5. I'm a little disappointed that the licorice was mostly lost, but it was otherwise a good beer. It's certainly not a Stout for beginners given how strong the smoke is, but I recommend it for anyone who loves thick, dark, roasted beers. However, two or three would probably fill you up, but that's the case with most Stouts aside from somewhat lighter ones like Guinness Extra Stout (ironic, considering the name).

To be fair, if I didn't like smoky beers, the taste would probably have turned me off. Given my bias, I give it a B.

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Photo of ztaylor1
3.43/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- straight black. Big three finger, thick tan head from a hard pour.

Smell- bitter candy smell. Licorice. Hint of chocolate.

Taste- starts bitter, but then a malt with a strong roast finishes the gulp.

Mouthfeel- smooth, but a bit too watery.

Drinkability- good after dinner, not more than one.

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Photo of vladtheimpaler
4.68/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle. Deep dark brown, big tan head, bordering on brown. Decent lacing. Nice roasty coffee aroma, with hints of chocolate and lots of roasty grains. Nice full bodied roasty flavor. Hints of coffee and sweet dark chocolate. Roasty bitterness lingers on the palate. This is exceingly drinkable for a stout lover. Rich and satisfying. I think the best of the style.

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Photo of JonMich13
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A = Common stout appearance. Jet black with a finger caramel head. Some lacing.

S = Interesting to say the least. Licorice, roasted malts, chocolate, and something like a Christmas fruit cake.

T = A nice taste but I don't quite care for the licorice tones. But I'm not a fan of it to begin with. Roasted malts and coffee is there. Some hop bitters also present late as well.

M = Nice mouthfeel. Full bodied and creamy smooth. Pretty good carbonation as well.

D = This is a fairly easy drinker for a stout. I don't quite buy into the taste, but it goes down easy anyway.

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Photo of Soilworker
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: Poured from a 12oz pry-top bottle into a Trappist goblet.

A: Pitch black with a creamy, one finger, tan head. Has decent head retention and there is a persistent film of head across it.

S: Mild roasted malt and burnt wood aromas dominate this one with pleasant hints of vanilla, coffee, and some subtle licorice. The vanilla coffee flavor really help this one to shine! I really loved the smell on this one.

T: Roasted malts and burnt wood flavor hit your tongue gently at the start and then gradually become more pronounced. Towards the finish some burnt coffee flavors and hints of vanilla start to play a part. I don't really get much licorice here in this one, it seems to be adding a subtle role in the overall character of the beer...then again this is just what I interpret. Finish has a slightly harsh bitterness and primarily characterized by burnt flavors and some trailing licorice flavors.

M: Creamy with moderately low carbonation. Overall its pretty full-bodied but still has some 'wateriness' to it, especially at the beginning.

D: Goes down fairly smooth but still has a somewhat harsh bitter finish that knocks the drinkability down a little.

Notes: I loved the smell of this one and the taste was quite inviting. The only thing I wasn't terribly fond of was the harsh bitterness I detected towards the end that made it somewhat off-putting. I would definitely buy this one again, especially considering the reasonable price.

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Photo of nota
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black in color with creamy brown head that gave way to good amount of lacing. Intensive roasted malt, along with carmael, chocolate, coffee are the dominant flavors. Somewhat bitter which I liked. If you like stouts you will not find to many any better than this one.

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Photo of ZagZagg
3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into goblet

A: Opaque, black and oily. One and a half finger beige head with a decent collar – appears like it has some nice body, low/no carbonation visible. Has that typical stout appearance.

S: Roasted malt with a blend of dark and milk chocolate. Caramel is prevalent with sweet esters of black cherry and date. Coco nibs contribute to the sweet aroma, but clash with a tangy profile provided by a light smokiness.

T: Follows the nose pretty closely. Roasted and malty upfront with more chocolate character than let on by the aroma – Sweet milk chocolate meets a subtle hoppy presence in the middle mouth. Mocha, caramel, and brown sugar are dominant on the palate – notes of wet coffee grounds, espresso, earth, and maple syrup are transient with only the sweetness persisting through the finish. The overall taste is bold and balanced, while being predominately sweet and roasted.

M: The body is too light in my opinion. I wish the body were more viscous. Carbonation is remote or absent. After taste is sweet and rather pleasant, mild coffee and mocha

O: This is a bold and superb stout. Lots of robust flavors, great balance and superb drinkability – something I would easily drink again. One gripe I have is the weaker than expected mouthfeel. The lacking mouthfeel is the one missing facet is an otherwise excellent beer. Recommended.

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Photo of akokandy
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- 12oz brown bottle poured into an imperial pint glass. The beer is black and is topped by a massive 2-finger foamy brown head with good retention. Leaves a fair amount of lacing. Very attractive.

S. Malty sweetness, some caramel notes, and the smell of roast barley. Sweetness almost overwhelms the other aromas.

T- Lots and lots of malt and lactose sweetness. Some caramel and coffee notes. You can taste a twinge of the licorice used to brew this beer, but it's mostly in the finish and aftertaste, which suits me just fine. A roasted flavor is lingering in the background throughout the whole sequence of tastes.

M- The beer is a little thinner than I would prefer, and has low carbonation (which is fine).

D- Great taste combined with reasonable abv would make this a decent session beer. It would be a great one, but there's a little too much sweetness for this to be a classic, "getting drunk with the boys on Saturday night" beer.

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Photo of blackenmn
4.4/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a pint glass:

Appearance & Smell- Poored fairly thick and left a thin, dense, dark brown head which unfortunately dissipated kind of quick. Basically no transparency whatsoever through the brew. Pretty pleasant smell a bit of licorice, and maybe some feint chocolate mixed in there someplace.

Taste & Mouthfeel-Really smooth taste for a stout. Definitely taste the licorice I mentioned in the smell, also some dark fruit and hopiness which lingers afterwards. Mouthfeel was good, not too thick at all. Went down nice and slippery and the hoppy finish kind of acted as a nice counterpart and kept it interesting throughout.

Drinkability-Could easily sit down and drink a few of these anytime. Really enjoyed the brew, a greatly balanced unique stout in my opinion.

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Photo of Reanimator
4.5/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dense, deep brown color with a big, dark and frothy head. Smells of big roasted malts, very chocolaty.

The flavor is hugely malty and chocolaty, but there is a cool sort of pleasant smoky, tobacco aftertaste, with a hoppy character throughout the entire taste.

Mouthfeel is perfect - dense like watered down chocolate syrup. Very smooth - tastes like it's a draught beer.

An absolutely brilliant beer from Bell's, the best I've had of theirs and one of the best sweet stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking- a solid straightforward, no bullshit beer!

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Photo of Chsyhkr
3.8/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Milk Stout? A little strong for one, but quite good, none the less.

The beer pours black with hints of red when held to the light. A long tan head lingers. Aroma is chocolate, nuts, and dried fruit with a sweet maltiness.

This is dessert in a glass. Rich, dark, decadent chocolate roastiness screaming for a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy this after dinner, before, but not with dinner. It is just too good to pair up with food, except ice cream.

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Photo of kohoutek
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours an extra deep black with a nice brown head that clings the glass for the entirety of the experience. No light penetration.

A wonderful nose! It is definitely vinous, full of dark fruits, espresso, molasses and flinty minerals from the yeast.

This beer has a high bitter charge that slices through the residual sugars. Lots of rich roasted malt flavors, clean acidity and character suggesting it has some alcohol. It is not the least bit hot - instead it picks up some sherry qualities.

The mouthfeel seems to change from the beginning to the end. Initially, when the carbonation is higher, the viscosity is bouyed a bit by the bubbles. Later it becomes less fluffy and more wine-like.

An incredibly drinkable brew considering it's richness and alcohol content. The bittering hops cleanse the sugars from this big bad beer.

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Photo of heissebier
4.3/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in sidel poured from a bottle with a very creepy guy in front of a blue diamond.

Appearance- Completely opaque with a beautiful, sticky brown head. The head dissipates slowly, clinging to the side of the sidel.

Smell- Mmmm... Complex and roasty. A bold, robust smell that you can almost taste. I can smell the "brewers licorice" mixed with hints of chocolate, coffee.

Taste- Follows the smell very much. A little on the sweet side, might have something to do with that brewer's licorice. The taste is dominated by a darkly roasted but not too roasted malt flavor with notes of coffee and maybe a bit of cacco. Nice bittersweet finish.

Mouthfeel- Feels thick without too much carbonation. Smooth and feels good going down.

Drinkability- Excellent, especially considering this is a stout. Not a session beer, but I'd drink two.

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Photo of jayb
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured an ink black that allowed no light through even when held up to a lamp. good deal. a moderatly thick head that thinned out before i got through half of the glass. little to no lacing. last couple beers have been like that, maybe its me. aroma was of burnt malts, very roasty. taste was of expresso, with a ting of milk sweetnes peeking through. aftertaste was that of a sweetened coffee. mouthfeel was of a full bodied brew. this was a thicker brew and i dug it. a fine beer in my opinion. damn fine

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Photo of Reed415
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a black color with a tan cream head

S - Roasted Chocolate malt in the nose

T - The taste is mostly dark chocolate malt and some mild hops

M - Full Bodied with mild Carbonation, Very Creamy

D - It very high because it is creamy, but not acidic like some other stouts

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Photo of jbhuxley
3.31/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours very dark brown with a small tan head that quickly turns into a faint ring around the edge of the glass. I can pick up very little smell from this brew. A faint coffee smell is about all I'm getting.

The taste is mostly roasted coffee, but the liquorice peaks through. There is a bit of fruity taste. The whole thing is bitter and quite dry.

Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would have expected. It is somewhat watery, with light carbonation.

I really can't put my finger on what I think about this beer. Stouts are not my favorite style, but the taste is interesting. Even on a stout kick, this wouldn't be the first one I'd reach for.

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Photo of Antikythera
3.83/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

a: very dark almost purply stout, with a caramel-brown head.

s: rich and with unexpected layers of... something. Really complex. Almost chocolatey.

t: I was hoping to be able to taste a little bit of licorice or something different. As it stands it just tastes like a really excellent stout. Little bit tart on the finish.

m: solid and chewy.

o: slightly disappointed in the lack of a really distinct flavour, but this is going up on the list of all-around favourite stouts.

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Photo of DagenhamDavis
4.54/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A perfect example of the non-barrel aged, non-imperial American stout. The thing that's great about this beer is that it lacks a gimmick, and doesn't try to do anything that takes it away from being a great stout. The roasty burnt finish is divine.

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Photo of mickstepp
4.42/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Dark, almost opaque color with a thin tawny head. Aromas of burnt coffee and faint hints of chocolate. Some fruity and hoppy notes as well in the nose. Msdium bodied and smooth. The taste is consistnet with the aromas. Nice coffee bitterness. Chocolate and caramel and toffee even a little vanilla bean. Very easy drinking stout. Not at all heavy. Makes you want more than one. A very, very competent offering by a premier brewery.

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Photo of BeerHonky
3.95/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Rigorously poured into a small snifter glass to stir up the beautiful thick, tan head, about two fingers worth. Looks black, almost entirely opaque, except it does look like a little bit of light can creep into the edges to make a dark burgundy. Produces a fantastic aroma of dark fruits, roasty bitter chocolate, light hops, and light alcohol. Mmm...smells great. Medium to medium light body with perfect palate smoothing carbonation. Creamy roasted malt and chocolate flavors hit the taste buds as a light tanic, stringency hits the roof of the mouth. I'm not a big fan of that tanic flavor, but this one is quite different to me. It reminds me of a porter more than a stout at this point. Bu I digress....so finally, to end the trip, we get a nice dry hop bitterness. Overall I think this is a great milk stout with a unique body and mouthfeel. However the tanic flavor keeps me from thinking that this is highly drinkable.

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Photo of HappyBivouac
4.35/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a mug from a 12 oz bottle.

a- Beautiful two-finger tan head that retains nicely. Little hills at the top of the glass. Inky black typical of the style but not completely opaque as ruby red notes can be seen throughout the glass.

s- Sweet and roasty, though the alcohol smell is coming through a bit more than I'd expect here. Definitely cream and chocolate.
Pleasant and layered, making me want to have a taste.

t- Up-front sweetness and roasted coffee and chocolate. The cream here is wonderful, too. Hop bitterness is surprising and welcome along with the alcohol. Finishes a dry dark chocolate, lactose and nuts.

m- Medium bodied and biting carbonation. In a weird and not at all bad way it feels like cola, though chewier and less a little less biting.

d- I'd take several of these. 6.0% as marked on the bottle is I think right where this should be.

I've tried a lot of beers in this style and it's a little hard to choose a lot of the time. This one has its own unique character and it's a little more iced coffee than the dark hot mochas of other milk stouts. Enjoyable and worth a reccommendation.

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Photo of MrBen
4.48/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is stout -- the way it should be: Big, black pour. Thick, stable head with the color of a lightly creamed coffee. Roasty n' toasty nose. Excellent balance between sweet and bitter.

Bell scores in a major way with this stout. Huge flavors with a slightly sweet background to complement the dark malts, and a long finish that leaves a good aftertaste. Smooth, coating mouthfeel. Easy to drink, and very interesting. Highly recommended.

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Photo of sully11277
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my snifter

A- Dark as night with a very light caramel head on it.

S- You get a lot of roast, coca, caramel, sweet, and coffee

T- It is sweet those coca and caramel taste hit you first then you get the roast/coffee towards the end of it.

M- Very smooth, malty, and sweet

O- It's a great stout with a lot of flavors going on that work well together. It's a great winter beer.

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Photo of trentley87
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Nothing beats a nice dark stout for attractive appearance in my book. This one pours nearly pitch black with a thick, creamy tan head.

S: The aroma of the beer, while not overly complex, made me want to drink it...fast, unfortunately, so fast I forgot to take any notes...so it was pretty good. Lots of malts and sweet smells coming out of this one.

T: Hard to pick out individual flavors in this concoction, but whatever is going on is working for me. Coffee and cream with only a mild hint of the supposed licorice flavor (which was fine by me)...no real bitterness just a nice creamy sweet taste. Unbalanced? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely. Pleasant sweet finish lingers for a while.

M: Right on for the taste of this beer, smooth and creamy, carbonation is right on.

D: Purely subjective, its not for everyone, but I could drink this all night long.

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Photo of JoeyHotrod
4.32/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Quite the stout here.

Deep Dark color, with a moderate sized head. Looks the part, though have to dock it a small amount for the head not being perfect. Still quite a lovely beer are the same.

The smell is of roasted malt and chocolate.

The taste is more of the same... roasted malt at the forefront, with more than a little chocolate to add complexity.

All in all this is quite the stout and I actually prefer this slightly over it's also excellent big brother Expedition Stout

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Bell's Kalamazoo Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
90 out of 100 based on 1,488 ratings.