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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
90
outstanding
1,541 Reviews
THE BROS
83
good
Read the review
Bell's Kalamazoo StoutBell's Kalamazoo Stout
BEER INFO

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

Style: American Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Stout brewed with Brewer's Licorice.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-11-2001

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,541
Ratings:
4,164
Avg:
4.03
pDev:
17.37%
 
 
Wants:
195
Gots:
608
For Trade:
8
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,541 | Ratings: 4,164
Photo of ShreddedThumb
4.29/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This particular beer has been staring at me on the grocery store shelf for quite some time (specifically last October 29th, when I turned 21), and I figure it's time to finally try Kalamazoo Stout.

The Dorm Room Review

Serving type: bottle.
Poured into a blue Solo cup. Glassware cleaning is cumbersome in a dorm.

Appearance: Very dark brown, almost black. There's a quite impressive head, and I noted it's expansion by counting grooves in the solo cup. The light brown head appears creamy throughout the experience.

Smell: Pleasant licorice wafts into my nose. Roasty, coffee notes.

Taste: The roasted taste is immediately apparent. Some licorice flavor in the back of my tongue, but it's roast, roast, roast. At 6% ABV, the alcohol is naturally masked by the very enjoyable, full-bodied tastes. There's no watery or weak flavors here.

Mouthfeel: It feels like a thin layer of coffee and licorice coats my mouth. A miasma of subdued roasted notes float around pleasantly. Not too heavy, and the alcohol is not present.

Overall: I am very glad that I finally tried this stout. Admittedly, I initially predicting this beer to suffer from common stout complaints (watery, thin-bodied, etc); however, this is easily one of the best stouts at this price point, and given its easy-drinking and enjoyable qualities, Kalamazoo Stout should never be overlooked.

 1,365 characters

Photo of jkendrick
4.04/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark black with almost no head on an aggressive pour. What little head was there faded quickly

S: Aroma is dark roasted malt with sweet cream and vanilla.

MF: Medium-bodied with prickly carbonation leaving a dry cocoa like chalkiness.

T: I don't taste much licorice despite the label. This one is big on the roasted malt, but comes across more bitter than the sweet aroma would lead you to believe. The finish is a bit like an iced coffee.

Overall: These days its getting hard to find good stouts with bold flavors that come in at a relatively low abv (to my tastes at least). This is one is pretty good, But I wouldn't put it up with the likes of Obsidian, for example. It is a bit on the thin side and over-carbonated. The aroma is terrific, but the body and taste don't live up to that promise.

 807 characters

Photo of sweett3k
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bell's makes another great beer in this Kalamazoo Stout. One thing great about Bell's is that they are not a one trick pony but put time and effort into all their beers to be one of the best hand crafted breweries. This stout pours jet black into my pint glass with a little creamy head. Chocolate and sweet smell either hops or alcohol is very pleasant. Hoppy chocolate taste to a bitter hazelnut coffee flavor. You can feels the hops on tongue and is an easy drinker. Love this Michigan beer.

 494 characters

Photo of peck95
4.01/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

very dark typical stout, the large head from a moderate pour is refusing to dissipate
don't get much from the aroma a nice choc malt smell but very little hop aroma
taste is very different a nice rich chocolaty taste and a bitter hop background
mouth very smooth well rounded brew
drink is very good wish it was a little higher abv for its desert style taste

 358 characters

Photo of robboyd
3.68/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Was at Bell's recently when they had 10 or so stouts on tap. I brought back a mixed six pack of mixed brews and this was one of them. The K-Zoo stout pours deep deep black with a caramel head. It smells sweeter than the tongue. It reminds me of baking brownies. Chocolate, a mild earthiness, and malt. I know the bottle says brewed with licorice but I smell berries. Could just be the cold I'm dealing with. Good smelling beer but not my favorite smelling stout out there.

Taste also was good but not great. Chocolate, malt, very mild bitterness, maybe from the licorice, which is mildly noticeable. Some toasted notes as well, I would almost call it smokey on the finish but toasty might be the better descriptor.

Overall a good beer. It feels a little lighter bodied out of the bottle than what I remember out of the tap but still robust and filling. Good way to start my day.

 882 characters

Photo of mpcrump
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into pint glass.

A: Pours dark brown/black. Head is dark tan about 1 finger that quickly leaves leaving a decent amount of lacing.

S: Coffee, chocolate, and licorice. Not as strong smelling as it looked but that isn't bad. I just expected more.

T: A couple of types of chocolate - sweet, perhaps bitter chocolate with coffee and anice/licorice. Starts sweet and ends with a hint of bitterness.

M: Medium body. I expected more based on the appearance. Average carbonation.

D: Great drink with sweetness and bitterness combined. Sweeter beers tend to make me thirstier. Not always a bad thing. Good balance.

 630 characters

Photo of Durtdiggler
4.45/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle with 2/15/13 date into snifter glass.

Pours dark black as night and settles with nice creamy, light brown head quickly leaving some thin lacing on the glass.

Aroma is very dry medium roast coffee, can pick up the licorice but feels a bit more like bourbon and chocolate. The roast coffee stands out the most which which is how I think this style should be versus baltic porter.

Very roasty backed by big hop bitterness all balanced well, slightly sweet with cocoa and dried dark fruits. Flavor is very complex from start to finish.

Light medium mouthfeel. Extremely drinkable.

Alot of complex flavor without the the big alcohol volume. This beer fills the void in the quest for big stout like flavor that it might be a while before I pick up an Imperial stout again. I might have to try Founders side by side:). Bell's nailed it.

 857 characters

Photo of viverlee
3.92/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I’ve recently learned that “black licorice” is redundant, in the formal, I’m smarter than you and went to college “in Boston” kind of way. Highfalutin types will simply say this brew is kissed with licorice. And about that, and maybe only that, they’re right.

STYLE: American Stout

ABV: 6%

LOOK: Purpley black with a brown leather head. Rich consistency planted firmly below a frothy three-finger topper.

NOSE: Moon pies and thick malt. There’s something just sweet I can’t put my finger on. Maybe plum, maybe not. A little mysterious. I like it.

MOUTH: Licorice, smokey, charcoal. Phenols as it warms, more than expected for a 6% beer. A little too burnt on the back end, and despite its drinkability, maybe lacking a little complexity. The flaws, they aren’t prominent, but they keep this otherwise quaffable pint a few points from exceptional.

BA Rating: 91

Hayward Abbey Rating: 87

 912 characters

Photo of Fuller
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours a jet black that no light gets through when held up to it. Small tan head that recedes quickly into a skim that stays until the last sip. Also leaves excellent lacing. Nose is of dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt sweetness. Taste is sweet and roasty. Flavors of coffee and dark chocolate, with some bitterness coming through at the end. Mouthfeel is thick, slick and creamy.

Overall a very enjoyable beer. A little thick to have more than just a couple though. A good sipping beer.

 497 characters

Photo of surlyseth
3.35/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

At The Depot in Minneapolis.

Looks brown to black with a deep red glint. Looks like a coke with a somewhat thicker head and less carbonation

[Sniff] Maybe some toast, maybe a little licorice. I wasn't getting much, but what I was getting was interesting enough.

Tastes bitter! ...And then dark chocolate and coffee.

Feels strangely thin. It does lubricate my palette with a syrup long after it's gone. I like that. I guess that's the sweet part.

Probably way too sophisticated for my palette since I was thinking about my next beer halfway through this one. It was just kicking the back of my tongue's ass, and I wasn't into that at the time.

 657 characters

Photo of hughesm4
3.4/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Had pouring a bottle into a pint glass.

A- Poured Midnight Black, not impressed with the head. There was very little and it faded quickly.

S- Very good smell, almost identical to that of a pot of coffee.

T- Nothing special about the taste. It went down very smooth but no distinct flavors until the drink was swallowed

M- Very delicious the taste of coffee lingered in the mouth for a good 30 seconds before fading

D- Average, a pretty good brew, but nothing I would go out of my way to have.

 497 characters

Photo of Landfill21
4.55/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours into a opaque black and leaves a fingernail head that follows all the way down the glass.

Has a great smell of roasted nuts, coffee, and malt.

Tastes great and has a smooth finish. Would recommend another quality Bell's beverage.

Has a light mouthfeel which makes the drinkibility high. This is a highly complex brew.

 327 characters

Photo of shoky01
3.5/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz chilled and poured into a pint.

A: Dark black, almost opaque. Oil slick. 1/4 inch brown tan head. Light carbonation.

S: Malts, a light smokiness with licorice.

T: Coffee, and bitterness. Its more real black licorice than jelly bean. Slight vanilla.

MF. Fizzy and smooth. Little sticky.

OA: Its okay, more regular stout than licorice. I liked the Stone Belgo Anise IRS better, just had the stronger anise.

 418 characters

Photo of Fear4Beer
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Cocoa, deep dark roasted coffee, low bitters, good ABV... not too high. I'm just not a huge fan of stouts I think. If you are a coffee drinker you will love this so much. I did like how it wasnt too bitter. The look of the beer is on point. Just blackness!

 256 characters

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.

 2,586 characters

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.

 310 characters

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.

 364 characters

Photo of biker30x
3.6/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

bottle poured into a tulip. very dark with a dense tan head that subsided quickly. smelled of bitter coffee and slightly burnt toast. surprisingly thin on the tongue and very carbonated for a stout. flavors of espresso and molasses strike first with a lasting feel of burnt caramel and over-boiled coffee (but in a good way). expected this to be an intense and robust stout, but was surprised to find it thinner and softer than I thought. well balanced but lacking some of the backing sweetness of a milk stout and somewhat dominated by the carbonation. the flavors blend well and offer a pleasing experience.

 609 characters

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.

 576 characters

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.

 1,462 characters

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.

 273 characters

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.

 1,375 characters

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.

 943 characters

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.

 798 characters

Photo of ljdrinksbeer
3.64/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

L - small dark tan head, very dark, looks black
S - roasted malt, coffee
T - bitter, black coffee
F - thin to medium, low carbonation
O - bitterness is the main thing that stands out, drinkable but a little to thin for my taste.

 229 characters

Bell's Kalamazoo Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
90 out of 100 based on 1,541 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe