Dismiss Notice
Microbrew Invitational
Join us June 3 + 4 in Boston and help us drink 300+ beers, ciders, kombuchas, meads, sakes and more!

TICKETS: beeradvocate.com/micro/

Bell's Porter | Bell's Brewery, Inc.

very good
1,030 Reviews
For Trade:
Bell's PorterBell's Porter

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.60%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
One of our many award-winning beers, Porter emphasizes the darker, roasted aspects of malt. Hints of dark chocolate and freshly roasted coffee provide the focus, while hops remain in the background. Not as full-bodied as a stout, Porter bridges the gap between malty brown ales and our more heavily roasted stouts.

Added by Mitchster on 02-06-2002

User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,030 | Ratings: 2,777
Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.32/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark brown color. The head is a finger high, and mocha in shade. Retention isn't fantastic, I must say. A small ring of lacing is left on the glass.

S: This has a nice sweet tone - molasses, smoke, brown sugar, caramel, and chocolate come through nicely. There isn't a lot of roasted malt, though. Even more chocolate appears as it warms up.

T: At first, I'm getting a subtle roast that I missed from the nose. Brown sugar appears in the midtaste, and the finish is faintly hoppy. Touches of roast also appear on the back end after a while. Well-made, but a pretty standard example of the style.

M: The texture is a tad rough, but far from harsh. It doesn't strike me as being too sweet or too dry finishing. Carbonation is medium, not falling into the pratfall of fizziness some porters do.

O: This is a nice porter that brings a decent brown sugar note, it just isn't a *great* porter. I certainly wouldn't kick her out of bed, but I'd much rather fuck someone like Founders Porter instead.

 1,046 characters

Photo of fscottkey
4.13/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Notes: Born on 11/18/13 (current date 6/18/14).

A: (Aggressive pour into nonic pint). Produced a 3 finger head of nice thick pillowy bubbles. The head is slow to recede. The head is a top a dark black brew.

S: Coffee, chocolate and roasted malts.

T: Very sweet on the front of the tongue - it kind of surprised me. The mid palate has more of the roast characteristic and the finish is also roasty - but balanced with the sweetness.

M: Really nice mouthfeel. Smooth and almost creamy going down.

O: This exceeded my expectations. I have had a few lackluster beers in a row and I am in a slump so I expected more of the same. This was really good and all of the aspects work well together - the taste and the mouthfeel really make this one a notable porter. I would not have been surprised if this was a milk stout with the sweet characteristics. This one is 7 months old - I'd like to try a newer one for comparison.

 922 characters

Photo of slusk
3.72/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours a dark almost black with a short lived tan head. Good lacing.

S: Coffee and a bit of cocoa up front, a bit of brown bread and musty hop aroma that is reminiscent of olive, not an off-putting aroma however... quite nice. The nose shifts to the coffee side as it warms.

T: Sweet coffee, toffee and cocoa with some black bread crust. Somewhat bright and distinct malt flavors with a light smoky underpinning. A bit nutty but surprisingly finishes somewhat semi-dry. Alcohol is well hidden.

M: Medium full body, leaning a bit to the creamy, coating side. I little astringency in the finish. Low carbonation.

O: This is a nice porter. It's starts sweet but doesn't finish quite as sweet, the dark roasted malts seem to add to the semidry finish. A nice porter overall, but there's a nit of mustiness that seems to detract from this brew for me. Overall, a great example of the style that may appeal to some, just not one of my favorites,

 947 characters

Photo of larryarms847
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slick dark chocolate brown with a solid light brown finger of foam.

Subtle but tempting aroma of freshly brewed coffee, chocolate, and some nutty notes.

Heavy chocolate, chocolate, and roast notes with some earthy hop presence and a grainy cereal sweetness.

Heavy-bodied, light carbonation, slick, a bit thin for my taste, but definitely true to style.

Overall, this is a very solid brew and true to style. Has some downsides, but has enough to stay interesting and worthwhile.

 489 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.82/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Lagunitas mason jar
From: Bine & Vine Bottleshop in Normal Heights (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $2.19
Purchased: June 6, 2014
Consumed: June 6, 2014
Misc.: Packaged on April 3, 2014

Poured an almost pitch black color with two fingers of khaki-tan head, which settled along nicely on the top. Very good amount of spiderweb, layered lacing along the sides of the glass. Fantastic retention on the top of the glass all the way down.

Smelled caramel espresso malts. Also toffee, roasty nuts, buttery malts, dark chocolate, caramel fudge and faint coffee beans.

Tasted dark chocolate, crayon, smoky fire, almost ashtray, bitter coffee notes, roasty nutty malts, slight butter malts and a bit of burnt toast.

Medium body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Long, smooth finish.

A pretty good porter overall. Not my favorite, but probably better than most. I’d have it again.

 902 characters

Photo of EvoRich
4.11/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look: Very deep, dark brown in color. Pours with moderate head which doesn't stick around too long. Some light shines through.

Smell: Smells of roasted nuts, peanut butter, milk chocolate, marshmallows. Very sweet scent from this porter. Very nice.

Taste: Peanuts, a small hint of chocolate. Roasty, nutty flavor. Very nice. Not as sweet as the smell, but just enough sweet to balance the hop bitterness. Very good!

Feel: High in carbonation, medium bodied. I'd prefer a tad less carbonation and a bit of a heavier feel. Pretty good nonetheless.

Overall: Very pleased with this brew. Almost reminds me of milk stout, but lighter. Pretty good stuff!

 654 characters

Photo of Henrich
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours an almost opaque black, but with small glints of ruby, when you try to find it. Heat is a satisfying beige with larger bubbles than I would like. Foam predictably has little staying power and fads into a thin dusting over the top.
Smell: Malty roastiness mixed with a slight sweetness, but you have to try hard to pick out any distinct smell.
Taste: Exceptional taste. Malty sweetness quickly yields to intense dark chocolate taste, followed by a slight lingering bitterness. Surprising after the disappointingly lackluster smell.
Mouth-Feel: No real complaints. Delivers the taste well. Little carbonation, but you still know it's there.
Overall: Excellent offering. I have reviewed other porters quite harshly, but it was difficult to say a bad word against this one. Not cloying like many porters; complex and delicious.

 841 characters

Photo of hopsputin
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

a: a nice rich black color with some deep purple notes mixed in. 2 finger tan frothy head that evens out

s: sweet caramel and roasted malts. a hint of chocolate powder and sweet figs. end of the aroma has real nice creamy & nutty notes. a really smooth smelling porter. the cream really equalizes the roasted malts

t: sweet caramel & fig right away give way to those toasted malts and the slight bitterness that comes along with them. theres a hint of chocolate at the very end of the tongue, as well as that fig i picked up in the nose. slightly creamy taste as well which, as in the aroma, helps to smooth everything out

m: a little thin - but this is a porter, and i think it fits nicely. slightly watery - but again works well and makes it drinkable. not much carbonation to speak of

o: its an enjoyable brew. i can see the mouthfeel being a little light for some people, but then you can just go grab a stout. there is nothing outstanding in here, but i think thats because its balanced so well. that being said, its not the best porter i've ever had. a nice drinker and fair representation of the style

 1,113 characters

Photo of Radome
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Color is an extremely dark brown, almost black. It doesn't let light through when held up to a bulb. The head is a dark beige/gray color. It piles up fluffily, looking very much like a fermenting beer's yeast cap at full krausen. Eventually it drops to a thin sheet, along with thick, sticky lacing.

S - The aroma is dominated by cracked grain and roast, coffee-like notes. Very clean. No obvious hops or yeast characteristics.

T - Strong roasted malt flavor dominates. Not much else can show through. The roasted flavor does not come across as harsh, despite its strength.

M - Medium to heavy body. Low, prickly carbonation. There is a silky texture that may indicate oatmeal is in the grain bill. Low hops bitterness in the background. No alcohol burn.

O - This is a well-made porter. It is not very layered or complex, but is very enjoyable.

 902 characters

Photo of AmyfaceNYC
3.78/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Dark (as a porter should be) without much head to speak of. Tastes of coffee. Noticeable carbonation, rather light and thin mouthfeel. Toasty/malty flavors (as a porter should be). I love me some dark beer, and this is a great easy drinker, but as others have noted there is not a ton going on here. More of a session porter than anything else (not that there's anything wrong with that).

 388 characters

Photo of BurdockBoy
3.86/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle to a pint glass. I got this on a trade and it's been sitting in the refrigerator a couple weeks. I was craving breakfast burritos for dinner and this was a nice addition.
A: dark cola color with a lovely khaki head with nice lacing. Ok retention.
S: not a whole lot there for a porter. But a little toastiness.
T: the way a porter should taste. That is all.
M: a little more carbonation than I would like. Medium body.
O: I really enjoyed this. Not a lot of complexity, but very drinkable.

 516 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.5/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

It's a rare Bell's kind of night in California. If I wanted to go all-out, I could eat some Taco Bell with the beer, however there's no way that my stomach will allow that. Just the beer tonight, and that's fine. Let's add Bell's Porter to the line. Another 12 ounce bottle, and another on to the beer:

More than half an inch of semi-soapy foam sits on top a beer that's cola black with reddish hues. Retention is modest, leaving a few spots of lace around the glass. It smells like something else was added to this porter....a big crate of milk perhaps? The aroma is milk sweet and still features an edge of roasted malt.

Respectable taste. It starts with a little roast, then comes in a mocha-like sweetness, a milk sweet accent, and a spot of grassy hops. The beer is lighter-medium bodied, has a lightly roasted aftertaste, and does go down easy.

In the world of porters, Bell's sits a tick above average. It may not sound like much to some, but because I adore porters more than many other styles, I wouldn't shy away to "porter" myself another bottle!

 1,062 characters

Photo of lochef81
3.53/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This porter pours a deep almost black brown color with a handsome and lasting tan head and decent lacing. The nose is unremarkable with notes of coffee and roasted malt. It is light in aroma as well as in taste. The flavor follows the nose with a surprising amount of alcohol flavor given the low abv. The body is light to medium with a bit if a dry chew on the tail. This is a good porter but when you have offerings like Founders and Edmund Fitzgerald porters, why settle for good?

 483 characters

Photo of byronic
3.62/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a very nice dark brown with a thin lacing of head which dissipates in a short span of time.

Couldn't identify any specific smell as this specific pour wasn't very fragrent.

Very mild taste of roasted malts with a carbonated mouth feel.

A very nice but simple sessionable Porter.

 289 characters

Photo of Gmann
3.93/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very deep brown color with a fluffy toasted khaki colored head that settles into a puffy cap.

The aroma is of caramel and nutty bread. Some light wood and brown sugar. It is a nice aroma but it is a bit faint.

The taste is of a nutty pumpernickel malt. Caramel and honey provide some sweet notes. An earthy wet bark flavor. Quite smooth. Slight lemony note in the end. Very nice flavors.

Moderate feel with prickly carbonation. Well balanced on the palate and very drinkable.

A nice hearty porter. Ranks up there with Founders.

 539 characters

Photo of polloenfuego
3.87/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass.

Pours a deep brown with a thumb of head that is steadfast as you drink. Nice lacing develops as a result and the beer looks good. The aroma is mostly roasts and coffee with some chocolate. Taste continues the aroma, but the chocolate is more prominent. There is a sweetness that comes through as well. Feel is light with medium carbonation.

Not a bad Porter, a good after work brew. So far Bell's is three for three for me and I have more to go...

 488 characters

Photo of alphagnome
4.27/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep brown, borderline black body with a finger-thick beige head. Good retention & lacing.

Rich chocolate malts and coffee are dominant with light nuttiness and sweet caramel notes.

Follows the nose brilliantly. Simple coffee bitterness hits right up front with tasty chocolate sweetness balancing things out shortly thereafter. Nutty aftertaste and a hint of molasses.

Smooth and crisp. On the lighter side of medium-bodied. Extra light carbonation. Semi-dry finish.

Fantastic porter. Smooth, delicious, and easy to drink. Well worth your money.

 604 characters

Photo of ZagZagg
3.89/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle poured into goblet glass

A: Two finger effervescent head with some audible snap crackle and pop. Head has moderate retention and a kaki color that leaves some webby lacing marking its former self. The brew itself is mean and black, like the abyss. Little froth appears to have a solid body.

S: Roasted chocolate malt, but also quite bitter, lots of coffee and bakers chocolate. The malt is very interesting, somewhat bready but also ever so smoky. There’s a nuttiness present too, playing off of the malt profile.

T: Hmm, malty, chocolaty, roasted, well-blended combination of coffee bitters and some caramel, scotch, and malt derived un-metabolized sugars. Hops take the backseat here and hide within the roasted coffee, which is offset by the malt and bready flavors. I don’t want to say this is two-dimensional because it is very well balanced, but nothing is really grabbing my attention either.

M: I just wish it were bigger. This is medium bodied, but I want it to be fuller. Light carbonation that’s pleasant. Not too much aftertaste, sorta sweet, somewhat dry.

O: A pleasant porter, for sure. Has the elements you look for in a porter, but it’s just that. It’s like the foundation for a superior beer without pushing the envelope and taking to that next level. Probably a good beer to start with if you’re trying to get into the style or stouts. That jaw dropping pizzazz is just missing.

 1,431 characters

Photo of jhartley
4.1/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 02/06/14
Pours a dark brown body with some reddishness (is that a word ) to the edges. A nice frothy tan head that leaves nice lacing and sticks around until the end.
Smells of a smoky roastiness with brewed coffee and little cocoa.
The roasted malts really come through and there is some smokiness that leads right into a slightly sweet chocolate.
A great porter from a great brewery and one I would definitely be drinking again in the future. A great representation that isn't an over-the-top hopped version either. Pairs great with a sweet chocolate dessert after a meal or on it's own.

 601 characters

Photo of Flounder57
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pint glass at Prost in Garden City, NY.

Appearance: A one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin later. It is a dark brown black color. Spotty lacing as the beer was drank.

Smell: Light chocolate, smoke, roasty, toasted, and a little caramel.

Taste: Super balanced. Nice sweetness. A little old ale.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, medium bodied, light to medium carbonation, and some smokey bitterness.

Overall: Pretty nice porter. Please come to Boston soon.

 471 characters

Photo of dar482
3.92/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a Coca Cola dark brown.

The aroma has a fresh lightly roasted coffee, milk chocolate, some medium roasted malt. A hint of dark fruit as well.

The flavor follows with watered down black coffee, cocoa, a semi sweet chocolate, a gentle fruit character from the yeast.

The body is light plus.

A very good attempt at the style. A bit simple for me, but definitely fantastic for pairing with food.

 415 characters

Photo of FLima
3.91/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Black reddish through light color with a thin head with an insistent ring.
Nice long lasting aroma of fresh roasted espresso, vanilla.
Similarly predominant flavor of espresso coffee, licorice, earthy hops, cocoa, guaraná and nuts. Quite dry and bitter aftertaste.
Medium body with low carbonation.
Nice assertive Porter, one with the most obvious coffee notes.

 363 characters

Photo of JerzDevl2000
3.99/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Picked this up recently at Top Hops in New York, thrilled that Bell's is finally available in this neck of the woods. Never had this before and was hoping that this would live up to the Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, which I had not that long ago. Without a doubt, this fell a bit short of it but was still an immensely drinkable beer that went down as easily as any dark brew that I've had in quite some time. It just didn't have the full, roasted aspect that I've come to expect from a beer of this style.

Good pour to this, as this beer had a full, chocolate hue and a tan head that filled up the remainder of my pint glass. Lots of lacing to be seen down the sides as I worked my way through as well, with several rings becoming apparent after the first few sips. Not a strong aroma to this but there was some milk chocolate that came across nicely. That was present in the taste too, as well as some oatmeal and caramel. Nice mouthfeel to this as this was quite silky and smooth but not roasted like other Porters I've had. There was a hint of cream in the back to go with the oats, which gave me just a bit to "chew on" before I had my next taste of this.

This was about as close to a session Porter that I ever had and if there was another bottle, I would be having it right now. While not as great as the leaders in this category, this would be a great beer for anyone who never had one of these before. It almost reminded me of a Lactose or Oatmeal Stout without the booze or overpowering chocolate and cocoa flavors. By itself, this was a pleasant surprise that fits in nicely with the other offerings from Bell's that I've enjoyed.

 1,652 characters

Photo of ChrisL24481
4.08/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - Thin tan head that quickly dissipates into a thin ring. Carbonation consistently climbs the walls of the glass. Its black even when held up to the light.

Aroma - Smells of chocolate and roasted coffee.

Taste - Much more here than the smell. Milk chocolate, roasted coffee, dark roasted malts. A bit ashy.

Mouthfeel - Very carbonated. Smooth on the tongue, medium body. Sticky on the finish.

Overall - A good porter; body is bit thin and the aroma is not on the same level as the taste. A solid brew overall.

 524 characters

Photo of barczar
3.84/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours an opaque deep brown with a frothy beige head that lingers as a thin layer of foam.

Nutty, toasted malt dominates the aroma, with notes of chocolate and light roast adding complexity. There's a hint of tar and dark fruit at the finish.

Flavor is chocolate dominant initially, becoming roasty and slightly bitter at the finish. Dark chocolate weaves throughout the profile. Nutty, toasted malt is fairly subtle in comparison.

Body is moderate, with carbonation slightly on the high side, and a touch of alcohol warmth.

Great balance between roast malt and chocolate. Very approachable porter. Bitterness and roast do not overwhelm. Lacks complexity compared to some.

 675 characters

Bell's Porter from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
87 out of 100 based on 1,030 ratings.