Leaves of Grass Series IV: To A Locomotive In Winter
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

Leaves of Grass Series IV: To A Locomotive In WinterLeaves of Grass Series IV: To A Locomotive In Winter
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Porter - Smoked
3.95 | pDev: 8.35%
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Leaves of Grass Series IV: To A Locomotive In WinterLeaves of Grass Series IV: To A Locomotive In Winter
Notes: The fourth of 7 beers celebrating a literary classic, and one of our favorites, Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. German smoked malt, chocolate malt and roasted malt work in harmony with carefully chosen hops for a smooth, smokey take on a classic style.
Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 80 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of tigg924
tigg924 from Massachusetts

4.34/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours opaque, jet black in color with 1/4 inch head. Taste is smoked malt and chocolate milk. Medium bodied, sweet and roasty, with moderate carbonation. Excellent roasted porter. Age smoothed this out. A joy to drink.

Dec 28, 2020
Photo of Ahypercube
Ahypercube from California

4.32/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

So I was just reviewing "Salut au Monde!" the other day and getting kinda bummed that I never found number 5 and that although I picked this up back in December, the last few got consumed at a party and I never got to review it. Then, lo and behold, I was looking through the singles at a small liquor store, and what do you know, they had three bottles of each of these!

Beautiful. Poured into a goblet, it has a dark brown body. Not totally opaque, as light penetrates up to an inch and a half through the liquid, revealing a dark coffee color. A finger of tan head leaves a wavy line of lacing around the glass, like little puffs of steam trailing behind the smokestack of a locomotive in winter.

Roasty aromas of smoked malt, lending hints of cacao, coffee and unburnt tobacco, but mostly just some really hearty, lightly-charred bread notes, reminiscent of pretzels.

The taste follows the nose perfectly. Smoke, pretzels and a hint of cacao. Very similar to La Cumbre's Malpais Stout, but lighter in both body and flavor.

The feel on this one is medium-light, with a smooth creamy middle and a slight dry charcoal finish. Excellent. If anything, it could use just a touch more body.

So glad I got to review this, and even more excited to try "Song of the Open Road" next. Cheers!

May 02, 2020
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ludachris from Canada (ON)

4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A cola brown turns black as the beer amasses in the glass. Dark indeed. Its head is light in weight, wasting no time collapsing back into the beer.

Dense, meaty smoke is reminiscent of caramelized, salty ham. Pork and burning wood give off the impression of peat and a real sense of coziness. A light coffee roast and faint suggestions of dark fruit are rimmed on the edges.

Sweet and savory. The bridge between the two is complimentary and seamless. The muscle-y, meaty, German smoke of the nose has been puffed out and rounded into a softer, more delicate version of itself and integrated into the bigger picture of the beer. Vanilla, oak, and dark chocolate quickly follow suit, leading into a soft, sticky finish with a pinch of roast.

Light, luscious, silky, and creamy. The feel is what ties the elements of meat and smoke with vanilla and chocolate. As dark and as heavy as these flavors are, it still is presented as beyond drinkable.

What an absolute treat. The aroma has me picturing an early 1900's boxer - thick moustache, tree trunks for biceps, and an intimidating stare, thanks to the healthy dose of smoked malt. The taste on the other hand is a neatly wrapped flat black paper package with smooth edges, and a pleasurable softness. I took my time to appreciate it and that exercise was well worth it.

Apr 21, 2020
Photo of CTHomer
CTHomer from Connecticut

3.7/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: opaque; cola brown in color; 2 finger finely pored medium brown head that receded to a skim cap; nice lacing;

S: smoke, deeply roasted grain, and milk chocolate;

T: savory smoke - like smoked meat;

M: medium bodied; moderate carbonation; moderately dry finish;

O: no porter character in the flavor;

Apr 17, 2020
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BeerDawgs from Georgia

3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 12oz bottle with a bottled on date of 11.13.19

L - Dark brown with 1 finger of tan head.

S - Smoked roasted malt

T - Roasted malts, chocolate, smoke

F - Creamy mouth feel, medium body

O - A good smoked porter

Mar 08, 2020
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

4.26/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a tan smaller fizzy head with lower to med retention, low legs and low lacing, very dark brown color

Nose brings nice smoke, little campfire smoke but mostly smooth woody smoke, roasted malts, little dark choc fudgey note,

Taste brings more smoke, smooth campfire smoke and smokey roasted malts, little sweet fruity apple or cherry wood like, dark chocolate, little fudgey, dark roast, creamy with a little lactose milk chocolate like, med bitterness, drier finish, med to higher bitterness and lingering mild smoke

Mouth is med to fuller bod, rich creamy with med creamy carb

Overall nice smokey porter, good malt characters, nice level of smoke where it's definitely there but not overbearing

Mar 07, 2020
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek from New York

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This one pours a dark-ish black color, with a big white fluffy head, and lots of lacing.

This smells like roasted malt, a medium amount of smoke, pine, and dark chocolate.

I feel like I'm one of the very few people who actually liked smoked beers. This works pretty well, as the smoke is well balanced and integrated with a solidly chocolatey and roasty base. There's a touch of bready sweetness too, and a slightly herbal/piney bitterness on the back end.

This is medium bodied, and very creamy, with a good drinkability to it.

I haven't had any of the other entries in this series, but this is an impressive little porter. It had just the right amount of smoke to it.

Feb 26, 2020
Photo of dd53grif
dd53grif from Michigan

3.84/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a foamy head that lasts quite a while. Smoky aroma of roasted malt. You can taste the smoky flavor but there is a bit of sweetness that turns bitter as it sits in the mouth.

Feb 22, 2020
Photo of Vetbidder
Vetbidder from Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to my neighbor Sam for this one. Let’s give er a pour. Very dark brown with a decent tan head I’m getting a smoky scent from the bottle upon pour. Behind that I get some chocolate. The smokiness comes through on the flavor too. Sort of an iffy flavor on the finish with some muddled mild bitterness. Decent amount of carbonation with a thicker feel. This is ok but I wouldn’t revisit. Maybe just not my style.

Feb 22, 2020
Photo of FBarber
FBarber from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brownish black color. Thick two to three finger head collapses pretty quickly leaving just a thin layer of bubbly foam on top of the beer.

Aroma is pungent with strong notes of smoked malts, chocolate, oak, charred wood, and some earthy hops.

Taste follows the nose with notes of smoked malts, chocolate, bready malts, charred wood with earthy hops coming through on the back end. The smoke, which dominates the nose, is expertly balanced in the flavor profile. Hops provide some bitterness on the back end that lingers on the palate.

Feel is medium bodied, smooth, drinkable, with a gentle carbonation. Somewhat drier on the finish.

Overall, this is a pretty middle of the road smoked porter - the smoke is there, but not overbearing. I personally found it to strike just the right note for my tastes. An outstanding beer from Bells, that I hope makes future appearances.

Feb 02, 2020
Photo of Mindcrime1000
Mindcrime1000 from South Dakota

3.96/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

Pours dark and nearly opaque brown with hints of red highlighting. The head is cola/rootbeer khaki. It retains well and the brew has good lacing and legs.

The smoke is very present and pronounced on the nose. They threaten to blot out the other aromas, but hints of chocolate and toasted grain are there as well.

The brew hits the tip of the tongue with toasted, roasted, and charred malt flavors (barley mostly) with hints of coffee and chocolate in midstream. And did I mention smoke? Definitely there, although it eludes definition on the flavor front. Fairly neutral smoke flavor. The brew finishes with a mixture of coffee and mild hop bitterness.

The mouthfeel on this brew is nice. Certainly beyond medium bodied, it still doesn't feel heavy. Nice carbonation and finish.

The smoke flavor is somewhat vague, but the brew is well balanced, flavorful, and a great delivery on a tough style to nail.

Feb 01, 2020
Photo of TreyIsWilson
TreyIsWilson from Michigan

3.96/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a very dark brown with a two finger creamy tan head. Nice amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is charred wood, roasted malts and earthy hops.

T - There taste is heavy charred wood, roasted malts, chocolate and light earthy hops.

M - Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a nice soft finish.

O - Solid smoked porter.

Jan 21, 2020
Photo of neenerzig
neenerzig from Ohio

4.35/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured out of a 12 oz bottle into one of my pint glasses, this beer pours a very dark brown color with a dark amber/ruby hue when held up to the light. Has a nice, fluffy looking tan head that's about an inch thick when first poured. head eventually settles to a thick film layer of foam on the beer's surface along with a thick ring lining the inside of the glass at the beer's surface. Good lacing here too. Aromas of smokey, bready malts along with notes of chocolate and wood along with some earthy hops. The flavor profile is pretty much exactly the same, with flavors of smokey, bready malts and notes of chocolate and wood along with some earthy hops. A very nice flavor profile overall. Has a mostly crisp, yet smooth, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. has a clean finish with a somewhat dry and roasty aftertaste. I really am enjoying this beer all around.


Jan 20, 2020
Photo of mvanaskie13
mvanaskie13 from Pennsylvania

4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a shaker pint: color is dark brown, amber edges, head is tan with fine bubbles, head presents 1/2 inch thick and then dissipates to a solid top with nice lacing on the glass sides.

Aroma is beechwood type smoke character, maybe some peat like notes of earth and grass, then quick balance of chocolate roasted malt, light toast, and light caramel malt.

Taste amps up the smoke flavor with similar beechwood like smoke, light peat earthiness, then malt to balance with notes of chcocolate, raisin, toast, earth.

Mouthfeel is crisp with moderate carbonation, lingering drying smokiness and slight sweet fullness.

Overall an excellent smoked beer, pleasant malt character to balance the smoked beechwood and light peat wood notes, malt attempts to balance the smokiness and does so quite well.

Jan 20, 2020
Photo of jjamadorphd
jjamadorphd from Florida

3.52/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I was intrigued as I studied Walt Whitman in high school and college, this beer ain't at the quality of Walt's poems, but it's still solid enough...

Great looking beer with lacing, and a decent scent and taste of smoked flavor, though it doesn't really work entirely well. Both the scent and flavor have this mettalic tang to it that I just couldn't overlook from top to bottom in the pint glass. It detracted without being awful, and the watery mouthfeel just added to the slight disappointment I had over this. Mind you, it's light and crisp as well on the tongue but definitely watery. Overall, it's solid enough. I'll have to keep an eye out for other in the series and see where it takes me...

Jan 18, 2020
Photo of Alieniloquium
Alieniloquium from Florida

4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle. Pours black with a thin khaki collar. Smells of strong smoked malt. A little meaty. Some deep roasted malt comes through. Tastes of strong roasted malts here too. Lightly sweet chocolate malt. Then a strong roasted malt back end with roasty bitterness. Medium body. Extremely flavorful without being heavy, sluggish, or sweet. Excellent.

Jan 16, 2020
Photo of twage04
twage04 from North Carolina

4.55/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a dark black, normal carbonation. A hint of roast and smoke on the nose. Taste is rich malt/roast/toast with just enough smoke to gel in the background. Really liked this beer, excellent incorporation of smoked malts with a good enough porter to make a balanced fun beer.

Jan 13, 2020
Photo of garymuchow
garymuchow from Minnesota

4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've enjoyed this series both as a way to get me to read Leaves of Grass, but also as a good example of many styles of beer. My thanks and credit to the brewers at Bells for this fine series.
This one again hits as another fine example of style. The smoke is done tastefully on a solid base porter.
A nice sweet smoke to the aroma over a solid dark malt based with some roast. Highlights are brown with a little orange amber. Head was smallish on this pour, but others had a more dense head (I think this one is still too cold).
I think the smoke is getting bolder as this one ages. Still blended nicely and like the aroma has a sweetness to the smoke. Apparent drying on the finish but enough richness to prevent too much. Nice soft and full feel for a beer this size. A satisfying beer that is rich enough to force a bit of a slowdown in drinking. Should go well with any food generally matching smoked porters.

Jan 12, 2020
Photo of Giggy
Giggy from Michigan

4.16/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thoroughly enjoyed it. 16oz. pour on draft. Nice hint of smoke, chocolate, and malt. Medium body. Would have been awesome with a little bit higher ABV. This is definitely the best of the series.

Jan 06, 2020
Photo of Beaver13
Beaver13 from Colorado

3.48/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, bottled 11/13/19. Pours dark brown black with a medium creamy brown head that retains fairly well and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is smoky leather with some roasted malts and floral notes.

The flavor is slightly sweet roast patent malt with earthy smokiness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with slightly sharp carbonation.

Overall, a decent smoked beer.

Dec 31, 2019
Photo of q33jeff
q33jeff from New Jersey

3.89/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 4


bottle to snifter.

LOOK: cola black-brown. fading wispy off white head.
AROMA: smoke, leather, tobacco, barley/grains. Very nice aromatics. strong smokeyness and pungent, but smooth enough not to make you cough.
TASTE: Charcoal, ash. Some irish-stout-like dry malt.
FEEL: a tad flat. medium body. nothing special in this category.

interesting smoked porter. aroma is fantastic.


Dec 31, 2019
Photo of HorseheadsHophead
HorseheadsHophead from New York

3.62/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Black with dark brown highlights, and a tan head with a good retention and some specks of lacing.

Smells moderately smoky. Notes of applewood smoke and ham, and maybe a hint of roasted malt.

A bit of dark chocolate, burnt toast, and coffee; earth hops, and then a mild smokiness. Hints of ham. Pretty light and thin.

Dec 30, 2019
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barnzy78 from Illinois

4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle, PKG 11/13/2019. Dark brown ale with a frothy tan head. Snoky aroma with grain, brown sugar, and earthy hops. Smoked malt dominates the palate along with some background caramel, toasted grain, chocolate, fig, brown sugar, and earthy/spicy hops. Medium-to-full body, moderate carbonation, smoke lingers through the somewhat bitter finish. Very good if you like a heavy dose of smoked malt in your beer. I drank 5 of the 6 beers in the pack and grew to appreciate it more each time.

Dec 29, 2019
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Franziskaner from Missouri

4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black in color with moderate light penetration. There’s a half inch of creamy beige on top. The aroma is of smoke, dark malt, and black licorice. The mouth is dry and lightly oily.

Dec 24, 2019
Photo of superspak
superspak from Ohio

4.13/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 11/13/2019. Pours opaque dark brown/black color with a 2 finger fairly dense and rocky light khaki head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, oyster, peat smoke, leather, tobacco, brine, roasted nuts, toasted biscuit, and dark bread; with lighter notes of dark fruit, herbal, wood, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/smokey earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/black/roast/bready/smoked malts, and light earthy hop/fruity yeast notes; with big strength. Taste of big milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, oyster, peat smoke, leather, tobacco, brine, roasted nuts, toasted biscuit, and dark bread; with lighter notes of dark fruit, herbal, wood, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/smokey earthiness. Light herbal, wood, grass, pepper, roast, charred bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of milk/dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, oyster, peat smoke, leather, tobacco, brine, roasted nuts, toasted biscuit, dark bread, dark fruit, herbal, wood, grass, pepper, and yeast/roast/smokey earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Awesome complexity, robustness, and balance dark/black/roast/bready/smoked malts, and light earthy hop/fruity yeast flavors; with an awesome roast/hop bitter/sweet balance; and no cloying, acrid, astringent flavors after the finish. Lightly increasing dryness from lingering hop/char bitterness. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, creamy/bready/grainy, fairly sticky/chalky, and lightly resinous/saline mouthfeel that is great. Minimal warming alcohol for 6%. Overall this is an awesome American smoked porter. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance dark/black/roast/bready/smoked malts, and light earthy hop/fruity yeast flavors; very smooth and easy to drink with the modestly bitter/drying finish; nicely soft and not overly bitter/charred. Awesome balance of rich malts and peat smoke complexity; with solid earthy hops and restrained fruity yeast. Light residual sweetness from lingering dryness. A really enjoyable offering, and impressive spot on style example as expected of the brewery. A lot of peat and brine smokey notes, but not overwhelming.

Dec 24, 2019
Leaves of Grass Series IV: To A Locomotive In Winter from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 80 ratings