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

very good
1,057 Reviews
Bell's PorterBell's Porter

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

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 1,057 | Ratings: 2,898
Photo of Eeroomnhoj
3.38/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

On a family vacation in Indianna-Illinois-Michigan and this was the first beer I picked up from the local supermarket. I poured one in a plastic cup (we're in a state park and we must be discreet) and it poured dark but not black. There wasn't much in the way of head. Smells like a good beer and tastes earthy. I
Bought a six pack and don't think these will Last the whole trip. Good beer

 394 characters

Photo of g_rat
2.95/5  rDev -24%
look: 4.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3.25

Look: Dark brown almost black, Amber tint when held to a light. Average kakhi head lots of tiny bubbles with good lacing and average retention.

Smell: dark roasted coffee, sweet malts and oats

Taste: coffee, earthy hops, mild smokey flavor, faint hints of sweet caramel and bay leaves. Well balanced but pretty watered down.

Feel: way too carbonated, reminds me of coca-cola

Overall: not a bad beer, but very watered down and way too carbonated for a porter.

 463 characters

Photo of ordybill
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 OZ bottle into a pint glass. The appearance is black with a small tan head. The aroma is your standard porter smell of roasted malt with a hint of coffee. The taste is matches the aroma with the exception of some chocolate added. A very good porter.

 270 characters

Photo of iliotib
3.63/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had high expectations for this brew. Being a big fan of Porter I was a little disappointed by look. I was expecting a slightly darker and opaque beer. It reminded me a little of a low alcohol Scottish ale. I was also a little disappointed by the head: it started out guns-a-blazing w/ a three finger head but quickly dissipated leaving a few clumps of foam on top. Tasted a lot of roasted malt and there was a pleasant hop finish. This was my first American Porter and although I like the clear color distinction between Porter and Stout, I miss the more Stout-like mouthfeel of its British cousin.

 600 characters

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

Pours a dark brown that I can only describe as looking thin. Minimal tan head momentarily on the top of the beer after the pour. Spotty tan film along the top after the head dissipates.

Smell has aromas of roasted coffee, bakers chocolate and dark cocoa with some earthy almost woody undertones.

Taste follows the nose with an initial blend of roasted coffee, roasted malts, dark cocoa and bitter chocolate. Not much sweetness, pleasantly bitter in a bitter bakers chocolate way. The cocoa coats the back of your throat as it goes down providing a dry finish. I didn't get the woody undertones from the smell in the taste, but that amy just be me. There was however a definite earthy tone to the flavors that provided a nice complexity.

Feel was thin, perhaps closer to an English porter than some American porters on the porter scale. Drinkable, smooth, dry. Very nice.

Overall a very good porter. Not the best, not even in Michigan, but a really solid offering. If you don't like sweetness in your beers, this could be the porter for you.

 1,049 characters

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

If you have read any porter review, most will apply to this excellent beer from Bell's. It has a lovely dark color, thin eggshell head (yet with good lacing) and a dark roasted flavor with a bit of dryness at the end. I have noticed that some English porters have a touch of sour, like St. Peter's which is a blend of old and new porters.

From what I understand, English pubs stored their beer in barrels in the cellar, and when they brought freshly brewed porter, they simply dumped it into the barrel with the older beer that had a bit of a sour tang. This led to porter brewers mixing "aged" and new beer to get that authentic taste, which is occasionally done today.

It is probably my imagination, but some of the brown porters, like Bell's, Odell's and Samuel Smith Taddy, seem to have a bit of that character, though less than St. Peter's. This porter from Bell's is one of about five porters that I rotate into my fridge and enjoy regularly.

 957 characters

Photo of BeernOnThe4thOfJuly
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Very dark brown, but not black. Very little head. Does appear to have a relatively high level of carbonation. Lightly sweet, chocolatey nose. Flavor is primarily of coffee. Easy drinking, but mouthfeel is a bit watery. Good, but would like a more malty backbone.

 262 characters

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

The beer pours out into a Duvel glass a dark, dark brown with a 1 1/4" dark tan head that slowly recedes to leave foam and legs for lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. There is an irregular island of foam over most of the beer. Sipping creates lots of scattered small patches and legs of lacing.

The aromas include dark chocolate and roasted coffee. In addition, there seems to be a slight earthy character from the hops.

The flavors pretty much follow from the nose, with the coffee being more prominent that the chocolate. The flavor profile is smoothed out a bit by just enough sweetness to control any bitterness introduced by the roasted malt and the hops without concealing them completely.

The mouthfeel is on the light side of medium bodied and nicely smooth with the moderate, persistent carbonation. The finish begins as the sweetness starts to fade from the scene with the coffee and dark chocolate in tow. Before too long theres only a touch of bitter dryness in the back of the throat.

As I'd expect from Bell's this is a well made porter that I'll be happy to have again. It also seems to me that this would made a nice companion to go with backyard grill food such as burgers or steak.

 1,219 characters

Photo of Tone
4.2/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color. Good retention and great lacing. Smells of strong sweet malt, slight roasted malt, wood, slight smoke, slight chocolate, slight fruit, and slight hops. Fits the style of an American Porter. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, strong sweet malt, slight chocolate, hint of hops, hint of raspberries, and slight alcohol. Overall, well balanced with the roasted bitterness just cutting the sweetness, decent appearance and aroma, and a good body.

 560 characters

Photo of jaypaul522
4.41/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark with average head. The smell is malt, with some coffee and maybe caramel. Taste is good, not too complex, and satisfying. Hints of chocolate in the aftertaste. The feel is medium bodied. Overall a good porter.

 220 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark brown, thin 1/6" lighter brown head on it. Aroma was of earthen malt, bitter c hops, mild cocoa presence.

Taste was that of a hoppy porter with more brown malt than chocolate malt. Not overly thick, alcohol in that nice and close to sessiony range. Coffee like flavors from the malt, same with some nuttiness. Carbonation on point. This is a solid beer that is consistent and reliable every time I've had it.

 420 characters

Photo of musicsherlock
4.05/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 01/06/16
Reviewed 03/22/16

Pours a deep, dark brown not quite black that allows no light to pass. A 1" just off white head that fades to a film with good lacing.

Smells of mild roasted malt, cold black coffee

A nice thick malt that coats the tongue but doesn't overstay it's welcome. Roasted malt matching the smell. A bit more hops than it's English cousin without becoming a Cascadian Stout. Dark chocolate notes.

Good carbonation but not too much. Slightly sticky or creamy but not cloying.

Overall I imagine this being a fraternal twin to the English Porter from back in the day. Close enough but with the modern palette in mind. The sum greater than it's parts.

 680 characters

Photo of SABERG
3.58/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle dated 1/06/2016 into the modified pint glass.
A - An aggressive pour yields , 2" mocha loose knit cap riding a very dark intriguing body.
Gentle carbonation relentlessly chasing the surface. Lacing clings creating a body of evidence.
S - Toasted malts, not roasted, a bit of cocoa powder, ash, oyster shell minus the salinity, and dried tobacco.
T - A nice blend of raisin, 50% chocolate, anise, cherry wood smoke and toasted sesame.
M - Body is English style, a bit dry, nice carbonation, with a quick clean up. Nothing robust here, just a tightly executed dry porter.
O - The aromatics are the high point, the body is welterweight, and the finish is quick. Easy drinking porter, mates well with food. A fine offering from a creative Brewery.

 765 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.83/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A tasty brew, as much in the brown ale range as a porter for me, lighter in color with some Indian red shades and raisin looking brown at the core, no darker. Head is fizzy and quite dark as well. Chocolate malt is there in the nose, and with what seems like some English malt, maris otter and medium crystal perhaps. Some bready yeast there too, which I always like in these styles for depth, but I was let down a bit to not have it transfer do well from the nose to the flavor, it's not really there. Nice nutty and toasty qualities the in flavor, I dig nutty in porter with the darker grain. Cocoa and almond notes late. Smooth in feel, medium in body, light in residuals, and quite actively car boned, definitely above the style norm, really pops on the palate. Everyone always raves about the whacky stuff bells does, but I for one am a fan of their most basic styles, this one included. It's a little something different as they go, and it's wide availability makes it easy to locate with a little effort. I enjoyed this thoroughly!

 1,038 characters

Photo of jrschaef
3.36/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured out of 12 oz bottle. A nice deep dark look and and roasted porter smell, however the taste and feel did not live up to the pour. Very bland and uninspiring in the taste department proved ultimately disappointing. Not worth trying again

 245 characters

Photo of KomodoDragon
4.33/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Half inch choppy head, mild activity

Smells of cocoa, tobacco, ashes

Smooth roasted, burnt malts. Some coffee, bit of nuttiness. Less sweet than most porters - but some hints of semi-sweet chocolate appears. Highly drinkable, Piney aftertaste. Dense from flavor, not alcohol, but well balanced with toasted malts and a smooth finish. Enjoyable to sip.

Bells produced a full flavored American porter with loads of interesting discoveries inside. Probably my favorite porter.

 482 characters

Photo of Crubbsy
3.88/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Very dark brown, approaching black. Opaque. A somewhat small light tan head formed after pouring, and about 1/8 inch head remains in the glass.

Smell: The first thing that came to mind was the unforgettable smell of combusted gunpowder and bore cleaner (like at a shooting range). Brought great memories to mind. Once I got past that, I got mostly straight-forward roasty malt notes.

Taste: First is the roasted malt flavors, which are pretty strong. Then the roasty flavors turn into a bitterness, which is rounded out by a fairly sweet finish.

Mouthfeel: Pretty good weight to this one. Might be because I've been drinking some lighter-bodied beers lately. Liked the little bit of chewy heft that this one held.

Overall: Not a terribly special porter. Kind of a straight-forward safe-bet porter. Not bad, but not a stellar offering either.

 923 characters

Photo of Czequershuus
4.28/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a clear brown-black with a smallish but lasting head. The aroma presents dark chococlate, smoke, and cinnamon. The flavor leads with very gentle smoke, as well a chocolate, maple, rasin, and cinnamon. The mouthfeel is neither thick nor thin, but very smooth and drinkable. Overall this is a super pleasant porter with a simple but deep flavor.

 359 characters

Photo of BillHodson
2.7/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Out of a bottle into a 12oz. glass.
My daughter bought this for me to help me on the Michigan Beer Cap display she got me for Christmas. I've had other Bell's products, and have not been impressed. This, to me, is an average porter; nothing to rave or write home about.

 272 characters

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

Pours a nutty brown color, develops into a coffee brown with 90% opacity leaving just enough transparency to let light highlight the edges of the silky body. Head is beige and 3 fingers, recedes slowly and leaves mild lace.

Aroma is like Stover chocolates with the white cream inside, spiced barley, some cherry notes, brown bread, rice, silk chocolate, ash.

Taste is both burnt and chocolaty at the same time. Dark cocoa malts behind that, with a sharp coffee-like hop bite behind that. Feel thins out towards the end. As it warms a bit of ash comes out.

Feel is well-carbonated and nicely condensed with creaminess throughout. A mild semi-dryness at the end.

Overall it's not quite in the same league as my favorites (Deschutes, Founders, Central Waters) - reaching towards it but barely touching. I'd have it again - it's a decent porter but not really fantastic.

 874 characters

Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
3.98/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown body, fluffy creamy light tan head, sparse lace. Aroma is wonderful, lots of raw cacao bean, pulpy wood, mild hop bitterness. Flavor has more hop bitterness, acidity and some mild earthiness, dark malt (dark, not toasted/roasted) and chocolate has taken a step down. Slightly sweet, well balanced by bitterness. Medium body, love that fluffy head.
Great presentation, including the nose, hops and their bitterness had too much sway on the flavor for my tastes. Otherwise a great, expressive, balanced beer.

 517 characters

Photo of NateDyk47
4.02/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L- black, thin tan lacing
S- dark chocolate malt
T- dark chocolate, espresso, smoky flavor... hint of bitterness at the end.
F- medium-bodied and lightly carbonated. very smooth.

Another good beer by Bell's. Will definitely buy again.

 236 characters

Photo of psycHOPathy
3.26/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Tan head that gets a little mashed potatoey after a second. Oil black body

Burnt coffee, chocolate, vanilla, malts, cherry pits. Smells sweeter as it warms

Chocolate, coffee, smoke, malts underneath. More complex at the very front, but follows up pretty woody and bitter. The sort of beer you only want to drink with the front of your mouth

Slick, coats the mouth. Very light carbonation

Not outstanding. Though when I drink a porter I basically just want a chocolate milkshake, so,

 486 characters

Photo of HamdenHector
3.6/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: dark brown - cola colored with ruby accents at the edges; with a fairly aggressive pour, a 3 finger light brown head that receded to a thick collar; OK lacing;

S: roasted grain with dark chocolate in the background;

T: follows the nose from start to finish; mostly dark chocolate at the end; mild bitterness on the finish;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation;

O: not all that complex, but nice flavor and enjoyable to drink;

 434 characters

Photo of q33jeff
3.99/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle to pint glass, shared with the wife, she cooking for Turkey day. Look is Dark brown, nice tan head. Large bubbles. Aroma is toasted barley, bread, brown sugar, Taste is cocoa, fig, raisin. Feel is light, a little silky. Nice porter. Bells does their dark beers like champions.
Bottle (03/27/15) to snifter.
Excellent porter, even after about 21 months. Impressive stamina.

 406 characters

Bell's Porter from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.88 out of 5 based on 2,898 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.