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

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Bell's Kalamazoo StoutBell's Kalamazoo Stout

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very good

3,630 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,630
Reviews: 1,450
rAvg: 3.98
pDev: 10.55%
Wants: 158
Gots: 330 | FT: 9
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:
Stout brewed with Brewer's Licorice.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 12-11-2001)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,630 | Reviews: 1,450 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of FreshHawk
4.22/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark black color with a large, creamy, thick, frothy, full, meringue-like, dark tan head. Amazing retention finally resulting in a nice layer of lace. Very nice looking beer.

S - Sweet milk chocolate and dark chocolate, coffee, anise all are quire strong. Some roasted malt and some nuttiness. Sweet cream/mocha flavors. Sweet and roasted mix well.

T - Similar to the nose with a great amount of sweet milk chocolate and more bitter dark/baker's chocolate. Good amount of coffee as well with some creamy sweetness. Mid sip a slight roasted malt and earthy/nutty flavors comes out. Undertones of anise. Great balance of sweetness and roasted bitterness in the beer.

M - Medium body with average carbonation. Quite smooth and goes down easy.

D - So easy to drink. Great flavors and really balanced especially between the sweet and bitter flavors that can come with a stout.

Notes: Batch 9984. Really enjoyed this. A great stout, and just what I was hoping for. Definitely worth picking up. Really balanced and a joy to drink.

Photo of Morey
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque pitch black color even when it's held up to the light. Nice golden-tan head that has settled to a thin lace after a few minutes. Pretty decent head retention.

Smells of roasted malts, with a touch of anise in there as well. Aroma is on the mild side, but it's pleasant.

Smooth roasty and slightly bitter all at the same time. Maybe a little bit of licorice in there, and it's just a tad smokey.

Medium mouthfeel, a touch thin for the style.

Very easy to drink. I could see myself polishing off a 6er if I was in the mood for a dark beer.

Morey's Bottom Line: A well made and easy drinking stout. I love two hearted, but have been a little less impressed with a few other of Bell's offerings. However, this is another good one.

Photo of bfflo
3.3/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pour: Opaque black with a nice medium-density fluffy off-white head.

Smell: Grainy, toast and coffee, charcoal, and maybe just a hint of dark fruity tartness and even alcohol.

Taste: Kind of bland first entering the mouth, but a distinct malty stout flavor takes over in the middle, with a bit of bitterness coming in to mix things up. Mild spice and dark fruit in the finish, with smokiness and bitterness very present in the aftertaste. Journey along the palate is slightly dirty and prickly, but there's a certain creaminess to the body and mouthfeel at the same time. Like many of Bell's beers, this strikes me as decent and above average, but nothing mind-blowing. Too dirty/bitter for my taste, probably, but you could do worse. Other reviews mention licorice, but I really have to look for that consciously to even faintly detect it. Good head retention and one of the foamiest, stickiest sheets of lacing I've seen in a while. All in all, B at best, decent-ish, but not a personal favorite.

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

Hate to be boring and give this 4 out of 5 in every area, but that seems about right.

Thanks to my sister for bringing this in a Bell's box to me from Michigan for Thanksgiving.

It pours a lovely brown with quarter-inch head that fades to easy lacing. It remains dark, but it's not motor oil pitch - maybe just a thinner darkish brown/black. It smells mainly like a stout with coffee and chocolate - typical burnt malt stuff - and not too much of the licorice that it says it's brewed with. Then again, when was the last time I smelled licorice?

As you drink it, you definitely get the stouty malts, but there's also a nice bitterness and a tartness behind it. Kinda like putting a sweet tart in chocolate. Maybe that's... licorice? In terms of the mouthfeel and drinkability, it's a medium bodied stout at 6.0% abv. It's not so overwhelming that you have to sip it, but it certainly does feel like pigging out on candy.

I'm a fan, but not going to be craving this tomorrow.

Photo of portia99
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Brooklyn snifter.

A - Pours a pitch black that doesn't allow much of any light thru it...only the slightest touch of brown highlights when held to the light. A low half finger of dark brown rocky foam lingers briefly falling to a a small collar and some mild lacing on the sides of the glass.

S - Dark malts with some caramel and vanilla. Not especially roasty and I'm not picking up any of the licorice that is stated on the bottle. Smells good, but isn't spectacular in any way...jsut a good solid stout.

T - Roasty with some dark fruits up front. I get some of the licorice in the flavor, but it really is a bit secondary to the other flavors and just rounds things out and gives some additional complexity.

M - Medium-full bodied. Very slick and oily in feel. Dark fruits sit there well into the aftertaste. Very smooth and silky overall. Carbonation is low-medium nad fits just right here. The highlight of this beer.

D - This is a very good stout. Mouthfeel is excellent - that alone is enough to have me come back to this one. Flavors are good and blended well...recommend giving this one a try.

Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12-ounce bottle into a Thomas Hooker pint glass.

A: Black body with medium ruby-brown, edged highlights shown in the light under a two-finger head of craggy and creamy brown foam. retention settles to a bubbly slick and lacing is good.

S: Nice, roasty aroma with a spicy, herbal hop essence. Smells of cocoa, caramel and a creamy, coffee drink and a bit of gingerbread too.

T: Smooth, creamy and bitter malts up front with a bittersweet, chcocolately, roasted malt body and a dry, herbal, burnt sugar finish. Malts range from smooth, creamy and cocoa to burnt wood, coal and tobacco resin. Slightly smokey and dry, herbal finish carries a bit of licorice, spiced fruitiness and a touch of alcohol.

M: Full-bodied, creamy and slick feel with a resinous middle and a dry, lingering bitter finish.

D: Quite the tasty American stout, complete with the herbal, semi-fruity bitterness of American hops married to a dark-roasted, creamy and bittersweet malt blend that warms with its 6% ABV. Full-bodied and roasted indeed, the Kalamazoo stout is a very good, traditional American stout.

Photo of Shrews629
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Black as night with a bulbous cream colored head that hung around for ages. Looks like the top of a chocolate milk shake. Left a generous amount of lacing. I can't wait to try this!!! Only the most minute red hue at the bottom of the glass. Almost perfect.

Smell - Roasted malt that had coffee mixed with a sweet milk chocolate that was most enchanting. Both aromas were very robust and inviting. Both were balanced exactly and made for easy detection. Didn't get the licorice as mentioned on the label, but that was fine by me.

Taste - Burnt coffee and toastiness. Bittersweet chocolate along with what I found to be a hint of caramel in the taste. Again, balanced exceptionally well. Didn't have the overall cream flavor that Oatmeal Stouts have, but that's ok. Just different styles. Leaves me wanting another sip quickly.

Mouthfeel - Medium/Full mouthfeel with decisive dryness. Smooth with lots left on the palate after each sip. As mentioned, not quite as creamy as some others, but still head and shoulders above average.

Drinkability - This beer could get me in trouble. Truly an outstanding beer. Well balanced and easy drinking. Could make a night or two out of this all too easy. I can see myself sitting by the fireplace with this all night long.

Photo of beagle75
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a tulip glass.

A: Opaque black color--no light transmits through the full glass--with one finger of mocha foam head. Light lacing remains on the glass.

S: Deeply roasted grain with faint coffee, woody chicory, and sugary graham cracker.

T: Begins dry, acidic, featuring molasses, licorice, and dark roasted malt. Bitter coffee emerges later and persists into the finish that also harbors a whiff of cardboard.

M: Medium viscosity, unpleasantly astringent, with moderate carbonation.

D: A stout that lends itself more toward the savory than the sweet. Dryness is a dominant sensory quality found here, becoming relentless by the finish. Qualities of this beer allow it to stand out from other American export-style stouts, which makes it worth investigating even if frequent return visits are unlikely.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a dark color body with a heavy tan heaTd with lace.

S- Smell of Licorice and dark malts.

T- Taste of dark and chocolate malts and licorice.

M- Very smooth and creamy with full of flavors of malts and Licorice.

D- Very good Stout this another of my favorites from Bells.


Photo of TheQuietMan22
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Straight pour into a pint glass. The color is a beautiful opaque black; no light pass through when I held it to my lamp. Three fingers of thick, chocolaty-tan head developed and dissipated slowly, coating the inside of the glass with a nice lacing.

Smell: The aroma is very enticing, but also on the faint side. Prominent roasted coffee, dark chocolate, roasted caramel, and just a slight hint (thankfully) of black licorice.

Taste: Oh, heavenly nectar. Bitter roasted coffee malts that, in the aftertaste, remind me of espresso. The other minor characters are dark chocolate, toffee, a little bit of caramel, and a hint of brown sugar sweetness.

Drinkability: The flavor is bold and invigorating; drinking a bottle for breakfast sounds like a good idea. I am impressed, and also a little frightened by the prospect of drinking Bell's Java Stout, which must be pretty sinister if it is more coffee flavored than this.

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.1/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass.

A - Pours a nice dark brown with some ruby edges. A nice 1 inch head forms that is frothy and tan.

S - Aroma of burnt notes with some nice smoke and slight chocolate. Mild coffee hints with some nice brown sugar sweetness as well. Inviting.

T & M - This starts off with a very traditional but well executed burnt malt taste that is followed by some nice balanced sweet malt notes. There are hints of coffee and chocolate. All the notes are not too intense but very flavorful. Overall a solid American Stout. With nice burnt mouthfeel and slight dry bitterness.

D - This is high for me. It is a simple yet effective beer. Nice ABV.

Photo of Duhast500
4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to freezedriedipa for this one.

Poured from the 12oz. bottle into a mug.

The color is a dark black with no highlights and a thin less then a finger brownish head with no lacing.

The smell is roasty with some coffee like flavors that are waking me up a bit. Some toffee flavor plays with me as I think of more coffee beans. Some sweet malt flavor is there just as I take a last sniff.

The taste is dark chocolate with some coffee bean flavor that was also in the nose. Some black licorice is there as well in the background with some malty sweetness and a small touch of a bitterness that is there as a stake in this beer holding it up.

The feel of this beer is hearty and full bodied. It is big but not heavy, going down with little effort it tickles as it goes down. A really delicious stout.

Photo of ztaylor1
3.43/5  rDev -13.8%
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.

Photo of Reaper16
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle served into a tulip glass

Pours a very dark brown. It is nearly black but not quite. Not really any red around the edges. Just very drak brown all throughout the body. Orange-tan head sits on top at a size around a finger and a half. Lacing is splendidly notchy. Great looking stuff. Textbook appearance.

The nose brings the roast hard and heavy up front. Lots of roasted malt, lots of cocoa powder, some coffee grounds. There's quite a bit of sweetness present, too. Something sugary, like a syrup of some kind.

The taste is, actually, a lot like Boulevard's Bully! Porter (a beer that I have a tremendous amount of experience drinking; that's the only reason I make the comparison) in that it is really, really roasty. I love that, personally. Tons of roast. Unlike that very roasty porter from BLVD, Bell's Kalamazoo has no real hop presence. And, also like Bully!, Kalamazoo Stout has a lot of sweetness. Syrup-drizzled black licorice washes over the tongue in waves. A hint of darker berries, too. Cocoa powder on the finish. But always that lovely roast.

Mouthfeel & body size are entirely appropriate for an American Stout. It doesn't call attention to itself by any means, but I always say that there is lots of positive things to be said for a mouthfeel not calling attention to itself. Drinkability is also good. For me, the roast flavors beg for further sips. That the beer is only 6% ABV is a boon.

I like this stout an awful lot because it reminds me of Boulevard Bully! Porter. Only not as good, because Bully! Porter is less sweet, features some heavy hops, and is even more roasted. Regardless, Bell's has opted for something restrained here, and they succeed. This is a beer you will always be happy to drink.

Photo of sixerofelixir
3.78/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle. Bottled-on date was easily found by looking up batch code on Bell's official website.

Pours a pitch black, with a dark tan head. Smell is roasted coffee, with a deep earthiness and a hint of the licorice. Taste is dense and roasted, with a bitter base. nicely complex. The feel all the while is complex too - dry, yet effervescent. Drinkability is above average. A unique brew, that's for sure..

Photo of weatherdog
4.38/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into a Bells tulip glass. Batch 9801

It pours a nearly pitch black with a 2 fingered tight bubbled mocha colored head. Retention is medium long with no lacing on the sides of the glass.

The aroma is of perfectly roasted coffee. It's roasty but not acrid with a nice subtle chocolate undertones. It also is just a little bit sweet at the end.

The taste has more of a roasted character than the nose but still very coffee heavy. Either the hops or the roasted barley lend a semi-firm bitterness to the beer. There is a little bit of residual sweetness t the beer but it is by no means a sweet stout. The finish is pretty dry and leaves a bit of lasting roast on the tongue.

The mouthfeel is medium to medium full with a level of carbonation which lends a little bit of creaminess in the mouth. Drinkability is pretty good with the only ding against it being the lasting roast after the sip is done. I find this character in many, but not all, stouts and I don't find it very pleasant. Overall this is a really great stout, readily available, and with a great flavor profile, One of the better ones I have had.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.95/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. 6.0% ABV, Batch #9801 (July 4, 2010).

I know I got a bottle from Gormanb (thank you!) but I'm also pretty sure the other bottle I have I either bought or got from sweemzander. Then again, he shares enough beer anyway, so thanks Sweem!

A - The tall and quiet pour shows it's viscosity as does the light-engulfing black color. A dense one-finger tan head rests on top gently and settles to a wispy layer with thick lace clinging to the glass.

S - Dusty, dry cocoa is sprinkled lightly over the top of some bittersweet chocolate chunks. Predominantly roasted malt but not bitter or harsh. Smooth, robust nose. A faint hop aroma gives it a good balance.

T - And...I was wrong. Dry, dusty cocoa is all over the tongue with an equally bold, cold coffee bitterness. Very roasted.

M - Smooth as can be and thick and rich but interestingly enough, carbonation also dances all over the tongue if you let it rest in your mouth momentarily. Full-bodied and destructive to the tongue, not only with the carbonation, but also with the very dry bitterness on the finish.

D - Very good across the board but just a little to roasted for me, the finish has a bit of brutality to it. One is enough to damage the tongue from sampling another beer. Great stout though.

Photo of nova009
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter

A- pours a nice dark brown to the point that it's almost black, a half finger dark tan head emerges but quickly dissipates, spotty lacing

S- not a very strong smelling stout, weak coffee smell with slight chocolate notes emerging, slight hop smell, overall nothing impressive

T- taste is much better than the smell, strong dark coffee flavors, hoppy but not overly so, slight licorice flavor, chocolate doesn't really come out, as i continue to sip the coffee is almost a little too strong in this one

M- medium-heavy body, not as heavy as most stouts, good balance of carbonation, slick and smooth on the palate, almost oily, i wish it was a little creamier

D- not hard to put down but it isn't exactly my favorite stout, however its a decent one that is worth picking up every now and again

Photo of nkersten
4.58/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle into pint glass. Thick black with a small tan head that turns into a cap with some great lacing. Smell is burnt sugar, roasted malts, sweet black licorice, spicy hops. Taste is spicy hops and roasted malts up front, some burnt flavors, coffee, and licorice in the background. Mouthfeel is medium body and rich, finish is slightly dry and clean. This is a delicious beer and easily my favorite american stout, right up there with Shakespeare stout.

Photo of codewarrior
3.68/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz poured into a snifter, bottle reads 9095.

We had quite the stout tasting this weekend, mostly seasonals, but a number of things from the stout mystery box sent by 7ways. This Kalamazoo was one such stout, and again, many thanks, this brought me back to Handelbar in Chicago, many years ago.

A: Deep brown, bordering on black. Decent half-finger of head, virtually no carbonation to speak of.

S: Surprisingly sweet, mild bitter notes behind that with licorice in the finish.

T: Sweet right up front, and then a bitter licorice, back into a sweet licorice finish.

F: Ridiculously thick and syrupy.

D: Damn good, drinkable and thick for a regular stout.

I miss you bell's ... a lot.

Photo of JizackFH
4.25/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a nice very very dark brown. had a decent tan head on it that lasted for just a little bit before falling and leaving just a little bit of lace on the glass. Smelled of dark malts, chocolate, and molasses. Tasted of chocolate, molasses, toffee, and a hint of coffee possibly. Decent carbonation with a medium/heavy body. Coats the mouth nicely and really gives you a chance to taste it. I really like this beer. I could drink these all the time. Great job Bells.

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

This one pours the darkest of browns with the slightest khaki head which quickly dissipated. It smells rich and sweet, as of molasses. It tastes bold and rich, very coffee/java like. It is rather sweet but appealingly so. It drinks smoothly and medium bodied. It has subtle carbonation but has an appealing mouthfeel. This one didn't miss where most craft American stouts miss. It's very drinkable, a great American stout, probably one of my new favorites.

Photo of klikger
4.15/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

A - Black in color, with a very small brown head which leaves behind relatively few lace trails.

S - Dark chocolate, licorice, and molasses, with a touch of lactose.

T - Molasses, toffee, milk chocolate, blueberries --> licorice, prunes, milk --> coffee beans and a hint of bitter chocolate

M - Medium-bodied, fair carbonation

D - Quite drinkable for the style

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised with how good this is. I don't know why - Bell's always delivers.

Photo of CHADMC3
3.9/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a rich black body with a creamy tan head that dissolves to leave a constant layer of lacing atop the beer and glass.

Plenty of roasted malt aroma, a hint of coffee, and also a bit toasty.

The flavor is much more abundant featuring roasted malt, hints of sweet chocolate, and licorice.

Medium to full in body with medium carbonation, and a slightly drying finish.

This is a very nice beer, easy to drink, with just enough character, and certainly something I would like to enjoy again.

Photo of prdstmnky
3.85/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

*review from notes on 2/21/10*

Batch #9457

Normal pour into a pint glass leaves 2 fingers of mocha colored head, with light lacing. Somewhat muted scents, maybe some roasted malts, some dark fruits as well. The taste is much more pronounced than the nose - malty with a bit of sweetness upfront, also some semi sweet chocolate which is followed by licorice / fruity flavors on the finish. Complex and well balanced, maybe just a touch thin in the mouth. Otherwise, another nice offering from Bell's Brewery.

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
89 out of 100 based on 3,630 ratings.