First impressions: WOW! Smoooooooooth. A very good porter!
This beer is in the class of American Porters. American porters are pretty much the same as the English counterparts with a little innovation to mask or work with the burnt flavours of the dark roasted malts. Some may add chocolate or coffee to do this as well as other adjuncts. On average these are a balanced beer and not too hoppy, but creativity is OK with this style. These can be session beers drank one after the other.
Bell's is definitely a session porter!
I just read a review by AmitC that was spot on. He rated the beer at 4 out of 5 on a beer that was only 6 weeks old. I don't know how I did it, but my beer was produced well over a year ago and my review is identical to his except that mine has more complexity than his with notes of vanilla and a milky creaminess.
The beer is contained in a crimp top bottle and gets points for homebrew friendliness!
It pours an opaque brown black and is very clear with a thing but creamy tan/brown head that fades to a nice ring and Friar Tuck kind of center cap with exceptional polka dot lacing pattern. Really nice.
The aroma is of roasted malts, vanilla, and mellow yeast. Pretty straight forward. This beer has been aged for a year and smells really smooth.
The taste is just as smooth as the aroma. Chocolate malts are foremost apparent with caramel and milk chocolate leading to vanilla cream midway through the sip. The sip finishes mildly dry with burnt malt and mild hops. It's pretty balanced!
The mouthfeel is moderate and just right. The carbonation is light to moderate and lends a nice creamy feel to the drink until the dry finish that lets you wanting more. Perfect for a session porter!
I'm going to give this beer a 4.25 out of 5 (switching to the more accepted scale tonight) as this is going to be one of my new personal favorites and I think this beer is approaching a world class status. I am very happy with this beer and would recommend it to even a novice beer drinker afraid to move on to dark beers as it is THAT pleasant.
Cheers! Remember, life is too short to be drinking that crappy beer!