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

very good
1,061 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: 1,061 | Ratings: 2,914
Photo of HardTarget
3.18/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle Inspection: Bell's Porter. Code (8146) packaged on September 20, 2007 as per the website, sampled March, 6, 2008

Aroma: Soft nougat aroma with some cocoa and black bread elements.

Appearance: Opaque black with a solid ¾ finger head of tan that gives up bands of lace.

Flavor: Great roasted coffee malt beginning goes a bit burnt in the finish. It's like the sweetness wears off just leaving ash behind. Kind of wish there were a few more hops to finish out the taste, or a bit more malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation, medium body

Overall Impression: A little heavy handed with the roasted grains, or a little too light with the hops or base malt. Either way, a bit over roasted. Still, a flavorful beer that I didn't mind drinking (I'm not a porter fan). Worth a try.

 792 characters

Photo of klewis
3.18/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a very dark brown with a tan, fizzy head that quickly subsides to a light ring around the glass.

S: Relatively weak aromas of chocalate and cappachino.

T: Flavors of chocalate-covered espresso beans highlighted with a modest earthiness. The flavor is nice, but as the smell, is somewhat light.

M: Highly carbonated and quite thin. Not impressed here.

D: This is a very non-obtrusive porter that goes down easy and might be a good introduction to darker (or perhaps more flavorful) beers for the uninitiated. For me, I'll go with Fuller's London or GL Edmund Fitz next time.

 595 characters

Photo of jjanega08
3.18/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A= Been a while since I had a porter. Pours a deep brown/ black color with a nice off white but not quite mocha head that is a nice three fingers high and lasts throughout the drink leaving nice lacing on the glass.

S= Smells really nice and biscuty. Roasty is another nice word to use. A little chocolate smell in there as well.

T= Tastes just like the smell. A little lighter on the roast than a typical stout tastes and a little less buscuity than an brown ale. Little to no hop flavor in it and just solid taste for the style.

M= A little higher in carbonation and still a creamy finish to it.

D= Pretty good. While the porter is one of my favorite styles this one is pretty average. Not bad by any means but there are a lot of porters that I would rather have. Bell's never lets down and this is no exception but this porter is just too basic. Summit's Great Northern Porter is still my go to for the style.

 917 characters

Photo of warmstorage
3.2/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle, no evident dating, bottle code of 8390.

Appearance: deep brown to light black, opaque, almost zero medium brown head leaves light dispersed lacing.

Aroma: toast, roast and some light chocolate. Limited, and not pronounced.

Taste: Distinct roast, some very light stonefruit, some hints at smoke, and some hints at, ummm, flavor.

Mouth: Slightly tingly, notable carbonation, moderate body. Sadly, it's perhaps the highlight of this beer.

Overall: Meh. I'd drink it again, but only if someone else was buying. Like some other Bell's products, a deeply disappointing year-around standard offering from a brewery capable of vastly more.

 658 characters

Photo of websherpa
3.2/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark dark brown beer. No transperency in the middle but prune like color on all edges. Modest light tan head, almost off white. Mild lacing. All in all pretty typical. Nothing to jump and down about, but nothing alarming at this point.

Smell: What I'm getting is a beer that is just on the malty side of balanced. I'm smooth and sweet mixture of caramel chocolate and dark fruit malts. The hops answer with a muted citric element. What comes to mind is dried fruit in candy.

Taste: I'm not impressed with this beer. The nose had the volume set to 6 or 7 and I'm getting 2 or 3. There is nothing off putting about this beers flavor, it just doesn't really deliver anything either. I will say it tastes even better balanced than it smells although the individual notes seem to melt into more generic sweet vs. bitter elements. You can work at it and pick them out, put they lack the richness and clarity that was in the nose.

Mouthfeel: This beer is just too thin and bubbly for me. I feel like the huge carbonation on this beer just got in the way of the flavors that were there. All the flavors I was getting on the nose were chewy flavors and I think a thicker beer would have done them some justice. I wasn't looking for pea soup on this but more body would be appreciated.

Drinkability: This beer is best consumed after it's sat a while, not only to warm up but also to flatten out. The chocolate starts to come through more as both aspects coax the flavor out. The after taste on this is lacking and it's not a sipper by any means. The beer isn't bad but I won't be going out of my way to get any in the near future. I'm glad to have tried it. I'm glad to have tried it and got a different look at the porter.

 1,731 characters

Photo of jmalex
3.22/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Yes! Another porter! It's my favorite style so I can be a pretty harsh critic. Does it pass the test?

APPEARANCE: Pours thin with no head and a thin collar and few patches of bubbles. Color is black with amber brown highlights. Hardly picture perfect.

SMELL: The smell is nutty with indications of roasted and burnt malt and some diacetyl normally found in the style. Not too intense, but certainly there. No hop aroma at all.

TASTE: Starts out roasty and toasty and this flavor pretty much dominates the whole time. A little caramel is present, but not much. The finish is empty with the roastiness dropping out somewhat, but no other flavors are detected. One-dimensional and straightforward, but what's there tastes good.

MOUTHFEEL: Thin and watery. This is a disappointment, unfortunately. Any sort of body would improve this beer immensely. Carbonation is also pretty low.

DRINKABILITY: Low alcohol and thin body make this beer easy to drink, but there are certainly better porters out there. Average at best.

Bell's has impressed me with everything so far, but here's as close to a miss as they probably could get. A nice beer, but nothing to write home about. With so many better options, I don't see myself buying this again, but while I've got it, I'll enjoy it.

 1,289 characters

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bell's- Porter

On tap at Isaac Newton's- Newtown, PA

Appearance- dark brown/ black with a 1 finger thick tan head.
Smell- roasted coffee beans and BBQ sauce?!
Taste- Smokey malt with a big BBQ sauce flavor. Sweet with hints of brown sugar and molasses.
Mouthfeel- Sweet at first but mellowing out and becoming a solid smokey slighty ashen flavored beer.

Overall- An OK porter that, for me, was all over the place. The look, taste, and feel were all inconsistant. Not bad though!! I'd definitely drink again!

 519 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of Hogtownharry: Poured a pitch black porter with a medium foamy head with good retention and lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with some very subtle coffee notes is interesting but a bit weak. Taste is a mix between bitter roasted malt with some subtle sweet chocolate note. Body is a bit thin IMHO. Definitely not the best offer from this otherwise fine brewer.

 375 characters

Photo of BeerBuilder
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Deep brown in color with a light brown head. The aroma is sour with roast malt aromas, and chocolate notes. The flavor is a burnt roast malt, with chocolate and coffee flavors. The hop bitterness is present as well as bitterness from the roast grains. The finish is sweet and tart. The tartness I gather comes from the yeast used. Overall some good flavors and aromas, but the tartness kills this beer for me.

 409 characters

Photo of Roman5150
3.23/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

bottle into tulip

appearance: dark black, not pitch black though, not much head retention

smell: subtle coffee, biscuity bready malt, not too much aroma

taste: follows the nose, not a whole lot of flavor. slight coffee and roasted malt flavors, very minor dark chocolate but not really a whole lot going on here, pretty watery for a porter.

mouthfeel: decent amount of carbonation, very thin feel

overall: did a blind test with Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald and Founders Porter, this was my least favorite and the lightest of the bunch. A decent porter, but just lacking the flavor and chocolately kick I expect from a porter. One of my least favorite beers from Bells.

 674 characters

Photo of LacquerHead
3.24/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This had no transparency; it had a black brownish color with a relatively light tan head.

The aroma was on the lighter side. It had a typical robust smell. There weren't any stand-out aromas.

The taste was okay. Like the aroma, the taste was on the lighter side for porters. There was the expected robust malt flavor. At first it kind of reminded me of a roasted malted root beer. For the most part there were faint ghost flavors showing up now and again, always in the far back ground. Most porters come alive as they warm up, but this one didn't really do that.

M/F: well carbonated but not too distracting.

D: easy to drink. It had a slight sipping quality.

Conclusion: it was a borderline average porter. It was a little thin on taste for a porter. For a craft brewery, this was well below par. This was the kind of beer someone could have on any day for any occasion. Nothing really memorable.I probably wouldn't purchase this again. It was too thin and there are better porters for the same price range.

 1,017 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 RonaldTheriot
3.27/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bell's Porter has a thick, creamy, beige head, a dark brown appearance, and heavy lacing left on the glass. The aroma is of semi-sweet, roasted malt, and dark bread, and the flavor is of cream, some coffee, roasted malt, a touch of char, and bread crust. Bitterness is not high, here. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Bell's Porter finishes mostly dry. This is good, but a bit dull.


 389 characters

Photo of jar2574
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Great pour, big tan head over black beer that will show tiny bits of ruby color when held up to light. Good lacing and head retention. Nice.

Smell is subdued roasted malts. Taste is roasted malts too, but unfortunately there is a little bit of a watery aftertaste, which I found odd. Didn't expect the finish to be so plain. On the tongue there is some smokiness. Some acidic bitterness to the roasted malts.

Mouthfeel isn't as creamy as I'd like in a porter - too watery.

I love Bell's. This is a fine beer. But good, not great, which is less than I expect from this brewery.

 580 characters

Photo of wac9
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

well i like this beer pours great in glass , a little swett tasting but the way it rolls around in your mouth is very pleasent so enjoy great color great taste doesnt blow you away but there a taste in there that make you come back for more enloy this beer the one guy compares this beer to the heavy hitter of edmund and and founder this is not them but a very enjoy triple a beerdrink and enjoy

 396 characters

Photo of swizzlenuts
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The nose on the beer is quite robust with toasted malts with a slight bit of chocolate. The beer is poured with a centimeter head and is pretty much all black, except near the bottom. There really isn't much flavour in this beer, it has bit of roastiness, but mainly watered down. Way too much carbonation as well. Thin mouthfeel and I guess it's drinkable because there isn't any flavour.

 389 characters

Photo of kegger22
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Nice dark coca-cola color. Good carbonation, showed a decent head that didn't last long. I could taste coffee and a little bit of chocolate, but it felt watery to me. Overall, it was a respectable porter and I could drink a half dozen of them, but will look for better instead.

 277 characters

Photo of CaptainIPA
3.28/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Presented in a brown, 12 oz. bottle with cryptic batch code: 8253. Poured into a Smithwick's pint glass.

A: Pours an opaque anthracite color with a frothy and pitted, two-finger head with good retention.

S: Honey, roasted malt, bitter chocolate, vanilla and licorice.

T: Dark, roasted malt upfront with notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla and licorice. Toasted caramel snap on the back end. Finishes dry with a sweet tang. Not exactly robust.

M: Smooth and heavily carbonated. Rather thin-bodied and somewhat watered-down for the style.

D: Its light-bodied character and subtle flavor profile make it very easy to drink.

 625 characters

Photo of putnam
3.29/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Great natural look but it smells like a sack of government grain that has been rained on for two or three seasons. The taste gives nice, clearly defined cocoa and coffee. Dry. An echo of metal and rotting grain on the palate. This was probably my first brand of Porter. The question is: Has KBC quality changed or have my tastes? Probably both. I can't imagine ever having been entranced by such mediocrity.

 407 characters

Photo of Erish
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I poured this 12 oz. bottle into a large wine glass. Brewed on November 22, 2010.

A: dark brown, the tan head falls very quickly into a scant cap with very little lacing.

S: roasted malt, coffee, cocoa, earthy hops, some woody notes, a faint medicinal off-note.

T: the earthy/roasted notes mingle with the malt up front, there is a bit of coffee in the middle, and the finish is faintly malty and woody.

M: light to medium bodied, lightly creamy texture, moderate carbonation, the finish is a bit earthy.

D: Not the worst porter I've had, but not even close to the best. A bit of a disappointment from Bell's.

 614 characters

Photo of busternuggz
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

There were 666 reviews of this beer so I had to review it to save us all from Satan. You're welcome.
Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Nearly opaque dark brown with a thin tan head.
Nice chocolaty scent somewhere between brownies and cocoa beans and a sort of general sweet creamy maltiness. Pretty faint overall though.
Drier taste than expected, subtle cocoa and a wee touch of toffee or caramel on the end, pretty nice roasty/bitter finish. Aftertaste gets a bit too bitter before it fades.
A little too carbonated for a porter I think. Comes on kind of fizzy, then there's a creamy texture sweet spot before it ends a little thin. Gets creamier as it warms up some.
The bitter aftertaste lowers the drinkability for me, but it's smooth enough.
A fairly average porter, not very rich or remarkable. Smells pretty nice, that's probably the best part.

 864 characters

Photo of Hautacam
3.3/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Very dark, very bubbly like a Coca Cola.... little off white head.
Smells yeasty , metallic with some toast and hint of dried fruit.
Tastes slightly sweet ...mostly toasted malt, a bit of metal, some caramel, citrus , dark a cola ( as mentioned by others) and a hint of chalk. No alcohol detected. I'm not getting any coffee.
The mouthfeel was very light in body ; the carbonation high.
Pretty easy drinking...low ABV....not the greatest porter, but worth a try.

 477 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.32/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I know I've already reviewed this; I just haven't typed up my notes. Anyway, here's an impression:

Whoppers-redolent malted milk balls give this an almost brown ale-like bend, lifting it out of square porter territory. Unconventional but not experimental or inspired. A bit too sweet, though not severely imbalanced. Taking the focus away from the chocolate/dark malts wasn't a wise choice, but it kind of plays in this enjoyable drinkable but not amazing stab at a porter.

Competent fare from Bell's, but the malted milk ball flavour dominance isn't ideal.


 572 characters

Photo of Jeffo
3.32/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Mom and dad brought this back from Pennsylvania on their recent trip. Thanks guys!

From a bottle into a snifter.

APPEARANCE: Pours dark brown and sits a very dark brown in the glass. Relatively clear. Pour yields a one finger, off-white head that quickly fades to a wisp and ring. A ring remains until the end but leaves no real lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Roasted and caramel malt, with hints of raisins, brown sugar, and touches of chocolate. Nice nose for the style.

TASTE: Some roasted and dark malts and minute caramel notes. A touch of chocolate, but relatively minute flavors. A clean finish, with minimal aftertaste. Mostly dark malts and caramel flavors. Good stuff, though a little muted.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Creamy smooth on the palate, goes down smooth and finishes somewhat dry on the palate. Nice feel for the style.

OVERALL: Enjoyable and definitely drinkable, but pretty average for the style. One I'd have a few of at the pub, but nothing overly snazzy. A solid beer from a solid brewery. Thanks again for bringing this one home guys.

 1,089 characters

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

Bell's Porter from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.88 out of 5 based on 2,914 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.