Bell’s Porter – Bell’s Brewery, Inc. – Kalamazoo

Bell's Porter

Bell’s American Style Porter from Bell’s Brewery, Inc.  – Kalamazoo

My Portland Timbers made the playoffs, so I needed some beer to watch the conference semi-finals. I narrowed it down to three choices: a case of PBR, an Oregon brew, or something from Michigan that I can loosely relate to the Timbers in a blog entry. PBR was out first, but only because it wasn’t on sale. Next was Oregon, which almost won out of sheer nostalgia and price. I decided to browse the aisle once more before resigning myself to comfort and tradition. It was then that a yellow sales tag called to me. I read it and thought, “hmmm. Porter? Like Caleb Porter? Works for me!”

Nerd time:

The beer pours nicely and produces a proper, porter head. When I went in for the sniff, though, I got precious little. It wasn’t until I stuck my nose into the beer that I got the standard whiff  of roasted malts a little bitter coffee. I mean that literally, by the way. I accidentally dipped my nose in it hunting for a smell. Recommendation: drink this beer, do not snort it. It burns.

The gulp was smooth, sweet and malty. Incredibly easy to drink. Only as it’s sliding down your throat do you get a little bit of hop and coffee. There was probably some dark chocolate in there too, but the malt dominates it for the most part. That’s a characteristic of Porters I’m always amused at. It’s as if it waits until right when before you swallow to go “oh right, by the way, I’m rich and dark!”

The whens, the whats and the whys:

Porter. Caleb Porter! Get it?!

I also wanted something smooth to drink, as soccer games usually leads to much nervous sipping. The Timbers won in convincing fashion, so the beer gets bonus points for that. A porter filled the role well. It was heavy enough to space out across a game, but light enough where I didn’t have to think too much while I drank.

Now let me preface the rest of this by saying that porters are usually not one of my first choices. I respect the style, and “get” why it’s good, but they always seem to be hanging in a middle ground between stouts and a bocks. I also guess I’m a bit of an extremist, because when I want something dark I usually reach for a Stout. Probably explains why I’ve put on some weight since I turned 21…

That being said, this porter is a good example of the style. It’s a clean and simple porter with that sweet, flat, malty taste without too much bitter involved. Maybe I’m getting older and my taste buds have taken too many IPA and stout assaults, but these smooth malt types are growing on me a bit more. While I may not buy it again unless there’s a sale that’s hard to pass up, I’d probably get me a pint of it during some happy hour in the future.

If you want something from Michigan, and you want a porter, you won’t really go wrong with Bell’s. It’s fine out of the bottle, but the fun of dark beers is to drink it from something translucent. Bring it to a small get together with some non-craft beer drinkers. You can revel in their “oh god, what is that stuff?” reactions while staying relatively un-silly with its 5% alcohol content.

Or you can bring it to a party of Seattle fans and start belting out “Build a Bon Fire” while getting relatively silly with its 5% alcohol content. Either way works out fine. RCTID!

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