I suppose I’ve always been fascinated by stouts. I even remember as a kid, long before I was even interested in trying beer, being mesmerized by those Guinness commercials: jet black beer, with rich mahogany cascading head. It looked like motor oil and one would have to assume it tasted like charcoal. I remember years later actually trying Guinness and being a bit disappointed at how muted the flavors were. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout, on the other hand, seems to deliver on all of the things that one expects from a stout.
Appearance: For starters it pours jet black, filtering out all light that would try to get through. The head is a rich looking mahogany … give the glass a little shake and you will see a nicely bubbly viscosity. The head dissipates after a few minutes.
Aroma: Simple here. Surprisingly muted nose. It is slightly sweet, paired with a hint of roasted smokiness.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is full bodied and rich and lightly carbonated, everything that you would expect from the style.
Taste: This is where most of the action is at in this brew. Its rich mouthfeel is equally matched by a rich, roasted, almost smoky experience on the palate. In fact the flavor of Kalamazoo Stout almost resides on the back of your palate. I noticed that if I took some extended breaks between sips that a bitter roasted flavor persevered on the back of my tongue, an experience akin to smoking a cigar, except drinking a Kalamazoo stout doesn’t get me shunned by my wife. The presence of the brewer’s licorice is ever so slight. My wife hates licorice and didn’t seem to notice it was there. The real win here is that they resisted the temptation to make it too sweet. It is dry and roasty through and through, balanced out by a slight dark chocolate sweetness.
Overall: Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout is an example par excellence of what a Stout should be. It certainly is not a gateway stout as it takes all the things that a stout should be and runs with them. From its thick black appearance and mouth feel to its rich and roasted flavor profile Kalamazoo Stout is a completely enjoyable, slow sipper. Sit down with a book and enjoy one for the long haul as the flavor only becomes more enjoyable with a little warming.