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

BA SCORE
90
outstanding
1,570 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
bellsbeer.com

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:
1,570
Ratings:
4,275
Avg:
4.03
pDev:
10.42%
 
 
Wants:
202
Gots:
649
For Trade:
8
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,570 | Ratings: 4,275
Photo of kojevergas
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Belgium goblet at me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Acquired at Ramirez Liquor. I've been quite underwhelmed by Bell's in the past, so I'm hoping this is the one that shows me how truly great they are. Bottled 09/26/12. 6.0% ABV confirmed.

Served after a period of rest from the refrigerator. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Presentation: I dig the label and its artwork. Understated and classy.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger beautiful brown head of great thickness and cream, and good retention for the above average ABV. Body colour is a solid dark black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Nontransparent. Opaque.

Sm: Dark malts are dominant. Chocolate. Cream. I search for roast but struggle to find any. Licorice. A moderate strength aroma. Not real complex or subtle considering the style, but pretty good.

T: Creamy up front and on the finish, with a lightly roasted dark malt foundation. Minimal hop presence, if any. Little licorice; it's very restrained. No yeast or alcohol comes through. Hints of caramel. Chocolate. No real coffee or toffee notes. Roast is also underdone. Well malted. A tasty creamy stout. Impeccably balanced. Quite subtle for the style. It's amazing how much they've done here. This is fucking delicious.

Mf: Smooth and wet - overly so on both counts. Should be more dry and coarse. Feels more like a porter than a stout. Still, the creaminess is fantastic, and the thickness is good. Good carbonation as well. Nice presence on the palate. Suits the flavours nicely.

Dr: A fantastic stout from Bell's. I'm starting to understand the hype a little bit; I like this a lot more than the Expedition Stout. At a better price than it is as a SoCal import, I could definitely see myself picking this up regularly. It's pretty much everything I want out of the style. Obscenely drinkable; I could easily down this all night. One of the best American stouts I've ever had.

A

Gets better as it warms, but I'd still serve it chilled.

***
01/21/17: 6 pack purchased at a Brooklyn Bravo supermarket for $11.99.

I didn't notice the licorice before...how could I not have? I usually despise licorice, but can tolerate anise and/or fennel. This, to me, has an aspect of the flavour of licorice but not any of its sticky texture.

A powdery smooth wet mouthfeel with an apt medium body helps deliver this beer's bold flavours of chocolate malt, dark malt sweetness, subtle roast, and gooey licorice. Impeccably balanced with good depth of flavour.

The tricky push-pull of bitterness and sweetness is at the heart of any stout, and Bell's nails it with aplomb. This is how it is done, ladies and gentlemen.

It's a bit limited in terms of intricacy, but its stellar balance makes one wonder if adding more layers of flavour would really elevate the beer all that much. In any case, it's definitely got above average complexity for an American stout, and puts to shame many of the adjunct-ridden stouts that have come out since this beer's release...hazelnut vanilla this, coffee cacao nib that, bourbon aged marshmallow fudge this, peppermint chicory that...they all get straight-up slayed by this brew, which puts depth of flavour and balance first instead of gimmickry and loudness of flavour. A classic in its category, and one of Bell's finest beers. A remarkable expression of the style, and a beer I happily stomach paying $12 a sixer for.

As much as I adore this beer, I do have to reign in my rating above from 2012 ; this is remarkably drinkable and enjoyable, but I may have been a bit effusive in my earlier remarks...it's not quite on the level of Michigan stout brethren like Founders Breakfast Stout, which I regard as a better beer. Chalk it up to batch variation?

B+ (3.98) / VERY GOOD

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Photo of emerge077
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Kzoo stout is my go-to stout. Always satisfying, and consistently solid.

Pours an opaque jet-black. Head is present and lingers throughout. Roasted malt comes out first and foremost. Taste is rich and roasty without extra weight to burden it down. Very well balanced and smooth, cascades across the palate.

Must resist the urge to down 6 at a time...

Notes: Cellared 7289/March '06 bottle. Consumed 11-21-07, 20 months old.

Retains a good head of foam. Sweet brown sugar and chocolate malt in the nose. Ahh...that supreme roast flavor takes me back to the last Kalamazoo Stout I had almost a year ago. It builds up on the palate. Appropriately bitter with a hint of chicory or coffee in the aftertaste. Still vibrant and packs a punch after 1-1/2 years in the cellar.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a medium brown color head with great retention. Aroma of roasted malt with faint chocolate in the back. Taste is very creamy-like with a nice dose of chocolate. Not a whole lot of hops but I think this is for the best. Very well balance beer.

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Photo of zeff80
4.24/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a solid black color with a one-finger, chocolate-brown head. It left small traces of lace.

S - It smelled of caramel and chocolate. It had a very sweet nose.

T - Tasted of sweet chocolate at first sip. Also, some creamy caramel flavors. There is a slight bitter kick as it warms.

M - It was crisp and sharp. A medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a very good stout. Not a surprise that Bell's churned out another good brew.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.58/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

G: Poured into a pint glass.

A: Very dark with a pretty good head.

S: Some lactose sweetness along with some dark malts, fruit, and maybe a tad bit of caramel.

T: Much like the smell, with some hops and a wee bit of coffee.

M: Fairly thick, but not overly so.

D: Fairly drinkable. A less-intense stout experience.

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

Batch 8432. Packaged on April 11, 2008.

Pours a thick brown/tan head. This beer is pretty much as black as the night sky (but really just a extremely dark brown). I was in awe when I first saw this beer come out of the bottle. The head stayed up almost the entire time, while the lacing was dominate. That's right dominate.

The smell is of roasted/chocolate malts, while the beer is amazingly balance between the hops and the malts. The presence of both were well represented. I could again taste the same roasted/chocolate malts and the hop flavor was grassy.

This is such an amazing beer and I would recommend this to anybody! I am so impressed with Bells on this one!

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Photo of nickfl
4.17/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - One and a half fingers of dark brown head on top of an opaque, black body. The head settles pretty quickly, but leaves good lace behind.

S - Strong dark chocolate and coffee aromas backed up by caramel malt.

T - Lots of nutty chocolate up front followed by mild, smooth sweetness. Roasty flavors come to the front in the finish along with mild malt bitterness.

M - Moderately thick body and medium-low carbonation, with a sweet finish.

D - An enjoyable and reasonably complex beer. Pretty drinkable, but with this level of sweetness I wouldn't want more than one. The chocolate notes in the flavor and aroma are particularly nice.

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Photo of oberon
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pitch black with rather big creamy almond colored head,the aroma is a mocha coffee and some nuttiness.Tastes sweet and roasted with some chocolate tones nice and creamy tasting.Its a beer to drink and savor for sure, this an Expedition are definently high quality stouts worthy of high marks.

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

12 ounce bottle into signature pint glass, bottled 9/14/2011. Pours pitch black color, with a nice 2 finger fairly dense tan head with great retention that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Some decent lacing clinging to the glass. Aromas of big milk chocolate, caramel, coffee, roasted malt, light herbal hops, and a hint of licorice. Nice well balanced aromas with good strength. Taste of big milk chocolate, coffee, caramel, roasted malt, pine, herbal hops, and a bit of spiciness. Good amount of bitterness on the finish with lingering notes of milk chocolate, caramel, pine, and herbal spiciness for a bit. Very robust flavors for 6%, with great balance. Medium carbonation and body; with a nice creamy mouthfeel. Hardly any alcohol presence except for a slight warming after the finish. Overall this is an excellent and highly robust stout. Very drinkable with great flavor balance.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.47/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque black (no highlights when held to the light, but the yeast sediment is clearly visible at the bottom of the glass) with a frothy light tan head that holds fairly well before dropping to a decent collar and whispy surface covering. A short creamy head can easily be brought back, however, simply by swirling the glass, and it leaves some nice as well. The nose is rich with a sharp roastiness and notes of bittersweet chocolate, but also offers some floral and lightly earthy hops in the background. The medium body is enhanced by an exceptionally fine carbonation from bottle conditioning that leaves it creamy and smooth in the mouth. The flavor is also affected by the creamy carbonation, softening it's bitterness and rounding it's sharp roasted edges. It starts with an underlying fruitiness and dark chocolate, but immediately becomes quite roasty. It warms to reveal some caramel sweetness as it crosses the palate but reverts to deep roastiness and a solid bitterness in the finish. A rich, dark roasted coffee flavor lingers in the mouth long after the liquid had gone and occassional flashes of hop flavor can sometimes be found. Rich, complex, and highly enjoyable. This makes a great after-dinner drink or nightcap. Highly recommended and well worth seeking out.

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

12 oz bottled served in a pint glass. Code on bottle ("9612") MAY indicate best by date of 6 Sept. 2012 or 9 August 2012; anyway, this bottle should be plenty fresh.

This is a truly black and opaque beer; even held up to sunlight coming thru my window I can see no light, only the tiniest dark brown at the very edges. The head is a thick tan color, and starts ample (about 2 fingers) but quickly settles to a top coat and ring. It leaves moderate lacing on the glass.

Aroma is moderately strong and consists mainly of dark roasted malts and some alcohol phenols. Also present, some traces of hops and a hint of dried dark fruits.

T - While the flavor is dominated, as it should be, by dark roasted malts. Has a lasting and rich finish featuring dark roasted malts with a hint of hop spiciness, black licorice and bitter dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel: medium body with medium-low carbonation. Not bad, but I find the body a tad thin for style although the carbonation is near ideal.

O - I sampled this Bells immediately after a Sierra Nevada Stout. Overall, and in most respects, I found the SN superior. The Bells does have a slightly stronger aroma and flavor, with dark malts more dominant over the hops.
I note that the Bells Stout is "brewed with brewers licorice" which "Increases head retention while imparting slight flavor" according to a brewers' supplier.

(revisited and tweaked with a 2012 bottle in Nov. 2013 - paired with a Green Flash Double Stout which proved to have more flavor but otherwise was quite similar.}

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade from JAYW, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a very dark brown color with a thin but dense brown head that fades quickly and leaves a thick and even lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is robust, creamy and malty with chocolate & coffee.

T: The taste is smoky and sweet with malty flavors of roasted coffee & dark chocolate. There’s a very faint bit of hops, but there’s no bitterness at all, even the bitterness that you usually get from the intense chocolate & coffee flavors isn’t there. The after-taste is cream and sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, sticky finish.

D: Very tasty, goes down very easily, slightly filling, decent kick, this one is an excellent sipper, especially if you’re looking for a beer with the flavor of an RIS but less of the alcohol punch.

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

First had: on tap at City Tap House, Philly, PA

Great stout. I've had this on tap and in bottles. Pours opaque black with a cream beige head. Aroma of roasted malts, milk chocolate, and licorice. Taste of dark roasted malts with coffee notes, sweet chocolate, caramel, and light sensations of dark fruits and licorice. Full-bodied, smooth and rich, and nicely drinkable.

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

Bottled on 11/21/2011

A: Pours an opaque jet black in color with some very faint hints of red when held up to the light. The beer has a half finger tall tan head that quickly reduces to a thick patch in the center with a slighter thinner ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate lacing is observed.

S: Aromas of burnt malts, licorice, light bittersweet chocolate, and just a little hint of coffee. There is some nice complexity to the aroma.

T: The taste pretty much follows the smell with perhaps a slightly more present bittersweet chocolate. The primary flavors are burnt/dark malts and licorice. There is a nice lasting bitterness but it is not agressive or intense.

M: On the fuller side of medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Creamy and smooth.

O: This is a pretty nice stout with lovely notes of licorice in it. There is an enjoyable flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel. Not exactly a sessionable beer but it is pretty easy to drink and you could probably enjoy a couple in an evening.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark, opaque black body with a rich, creamy beige head.

Smell: A sweet, succoring aroma of milk chocolate, licorice, and an iced caramel macchiato.

Taste: Rich, roasty espresso and dark chocolate flavor smoothed out with a shot of cream. A noticeable, fruity twang and a hint of licorice keeps things interesting. The finish is strongly roasty, and sightly astringent.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Moderate carbonation.

Drinkability: Quite nice! It should be on anyone's list of things to drink before they die.

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

Glistening ebony with mahogany highlights. Even with bright sun behind the glass, light penetration is nil. Atop the beer is an impressive mocha colored head of dense, pitting foam that generously plasters itself to the glass in a further attempt to keep light at bay. Now this is what a stout should look like. Very well done.

The coffee-laced, fudge brownie nose is a pleasure to inhale. If the flavor follows suit, Kalamazoo will be one impressive stout. It does and it is! Bell's brewery continues to astound. Just as in the nose, gooey fudge comes to mind on the palate: rich, glossy, sweet, sticky, mouthfilling, decadent goodness in a glass.

The bitter coffee flavor is a bit too pronounced for me, but is easily overlooked because this is such delicious beer. The degree of roastedness is fairly high with a mild char that works well in the grand scheme of things. Bitter and sweet intertwine beautifully, even throughout the long, lingering finish. The body/mouthfeel is decidedly full and crushed velvet smooth.

Kalamazoo Stout is the best milk/sweet stout that I've had yet, surpassing Bell's own Special Double Cream Stout (although it's been a while since I sampled SDCS). It's one of the biggest and boldest 6.5% ABV beers that you're ever likely to drink and is truly one of the best. Kudos all around.

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

A: Pours an inky black with a one finger mocha colored head. Decent retention leaving a little bit of foam in the center and ring on the outer edge. Moderate lacing.

S: Not overly strong smelling. A sweet smelling beer, coffee, licorice, some brown sugar, and molasses. I get a little bit of butter as well.

T: The predominant flavors are coffee and mocha, but the coffee is more like coffee ice cream than hot coffee. There is a roasted malt flavor in the middle a little bit as well as hints of chocolate, molasses, and oatmeal.

M: Creamy and chewy. Medium to full bodied, nice carbonation that seems to fit well. Has a surprisingly dry finish.

O: Quite happy with this beer. Glad that the coffee doesn't overwhelm the beer since I am not a fan of coffee beers. Not my favorite stout, but I wouldn't turn it away.

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Photo of russpowell
3.97/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from tpd975, cheers Greg!

Pours mahogany/ebony with 2 fingers of mocha head with molasses colored flecks. Above average lacing & average head retention

S: Mocha, charred grain &, a kiss of oaky vanilla & dark fruit once warm

T: Dark choclate & mocha & much cocoa powder dryness up front. A touch of grainyness, more chocolate, a bit of raisin, & coffee as this warms.

MF: Smooth, medium bodied with low carbonation

Drinks easy, a good, not great stout, middle of the road as Bell's offerings go

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally able to taste a Bell's stout, picked this one up at Brawley's on my last trip. Poured a thick deep dark black with a big creamy brown head. Faded from the initial 2+ inches to a 1/2 inch lace that stayed till the bottom of the glass. Very nice light brown coating left down the sides. Smell was very sweet, first hints were of coffee, and licorice, followed by sugary sweetness, and rootbeer. As it warmed hints of rootbeer or cream soda were apparent, and suprisingly pleasent. Smells were not too strong, a little more pronounced and it would have been perfect. Taste was very rich and creamy, with a soda like consistency due to the light feel and high carbonation. Predominant taste was coffee and caramel, again with hints of some kind of sweet cola taste. Only complaint on this was it came off a bit thin. Other than that this was a fine brew, just a bit thin, but a good session beer.

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Photo of billab914
3.61/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass. Poured black with a big bubbly mocha colored head. The head settled down eventually to a thin covering but it left some very good lacing on the glass.

The aroma has the strong presence of the brewers licorice with some sweetness and a little roastedness to it. The licorice is also very present in the taste and has an almost caramel like taste to it. It also has some roasted grains with notes of bitter coffee and chocolate coming through. The bitterness helps balance out the caramely sweetness of the licorice.

The mouthfeel is on the thicker side with below average carbonation. Drinkability is good, I've never been a big fan of licorice but it wasn't too overpowering in the beer.

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

A - An opaque black w/ tan head and generous lacing.

S - roasted coffe and anise odors dominate.

M - Sweet, creamy, roasted and medicinal w/ good carbonation.

T - A deep molasses and roasted coffee taste at first taste. The smooth stout blends so effortlessly w/ a prominent black licorice taste. The anise comes in and catches you off guard w/ a nice herbal finish that is tasty and slightly dry.

D - A full bodied stout w/ a good hop profile + licorice flavor with tinges of molasses. The sweetness is balanced by the herbal flavors. It is not one I would drink single every day, but so smooth I probably could.

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

A light head but it sticks around, leaving ample spots on the glass. The color is near black where no light passes through.

A fairly mellow stout aroma. There are elements of darkened toast from black patent malt, but it is not harsh.

The flavor is closer to the classic dry stout profile. It has notes of espresso and faint nuttiness. There's a blend of hop and burnt toast taste in the finish which lingers long after the swallow. The body light to moderate and the carbonation is spot on. A good, but not great, stout.

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Photo of Jason
3.34/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle with no freshness date.

Appearance: The thick foaming light brown head leaves big sticky chunks in the glass, the colour is a shade or two from pitch black.

Smell: Yeasty aroma, dark fruitiness under a wild estery and buttery burnt caramel smell.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Full bodied, creamy smooth and on the sweet side ... the sweetness seems clouded though. Big yeast bite mixes it up with the roasted character. Ghost like beef broth and dark fruit. Bitter chocolate and some roasted coffee bean in there. A bit hoppy with some flavour middle to end, lots of soft charcoal flavour as well.

Notes: The minimal astringency does not get in the way yet the flavours just don’t meld well together … a little unbalanced some would say. I am not say it is bad, I enjoyed it but it certainly did not rock my world.

Thanks to sakaroo for the sample.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks for sending this one my way, Matt.

A: The beer is almost black in color and pours with about a finger of dark tan head.

S: Plenty of roasted malt and coffee notes to the nose followed up by dark chocolate and licorice. Actually, a lot of licorice. Molasses is present as well is a touch of soap.

T: The flavor is very similar to the nose, with a nice roasted character, though not overwhelming or charred in nature. Toffee and molasses flavors provide the bulk of the sweetness along with a bit of licorice.

M: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: Really nice easy drinking stout. You could definitely have a couple of these.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

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

a - Pours a dark brown color with about 2 inches of tan head with great retention and lacing. Moderate carbonation evident.

s - Coffee, roasted and toasted malts, licorice, hints of cream.

t - Bitterness prevails here. Bitter coffee jumps out first, followed by licorice and roasted malts. No cream from the smell is evident in the taste.

m - Full body and little carbonation.

d - Not a bad stout. I enjoyed the smell much more than the taste; I thought the bitterness was a little too prevalent in the taste. I would drink this again.

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Bell's Kalamazoo Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
4.03 out of 5 based on 4,275 ratings.
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