Pearl Anniversary

Brewery and Country of Origin: Bell's Brewery Incorportated of 8938 Krum Ave., Galesburg, Michigan, USA

Date Reviewed: 1-23-15

The city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, with its high concentration of local craft breweries, is known for its fun array of beer festivals and brewery related events. Perhaps its best known brewery, Bell's, is adding a unique event to this year's Kalamazoo beer festival schedule. Two things that make this particular beer festival special are that it marks the 30th anniversary of Bell's brewing operations beginning in 1985 (the brewery was first established two years earlier as a home brewing supply shop), and that the festival is being hosted by the brewery. Officially named the 30th Anniversary Funvitational Beer Festival, the event is scheduled for September 12, 2015, and will take place at Homer Stryker Field (coincidentally, the home field of a collegiate summer league baseball team, The Kalamazoo Growlers, whose name is an homage to the city's brewing tradition and the type of beer vessel). Normally, beer festivals (with at least 50 breweries participating) are sponsored by breweries and hosted by unrelated organizations for the sake of showcasing the breweries' product to people like us here at this website. But the Funvitational is exactly what it is: the Bell's Brewery has set up the festival itself and has already created an invitation list of about 100 separate breweries. According to Laura Bell, the brewery's VP, every brewery in the immediate Kalamazoo area has been invited. Aside from that, many of the breweries which have received an invite don't even distribute to the state of Michigan. That allows festival goers the opportunity to try several beers from breweries they may have never heard of. The event will cost guests $45 and each entry comes with 12 four ounce samples, a commemorative glass, and food.
Date Sampled: 11-27-14 At: 5726 Williamsburg Drive NW, Norcross, GA, 30093, USA
Beer Style: American Porter
Alcohol by Volume: 5.60%
Serving Type: Growler, 16 oz Tumbler Glass
Rating: 3.67


Bell's Porter pours smoothly with a medium low amount of carbonation action, producing a very thin quarter inch tall foam head with a medium high density, a tan color, and a low retention rate. This beer has a clear and filtered appeareance with a very dark reddish brown color. There is no shine, and only a small amount of glow in only bright light, a low amount of effervescent effect, and no visible sediment. There is a medium amount of lacing on the glass.


The aroma of this beer starts off with an immediate presence of fairly strong coffee and dark roasted, burnt malt that is accompanied by a whiff of dull, subtle hoppy bitter notes that are weak, but present nonetheless. The malt heavy aroma of this porter is highlighted with some strong espresso notes that finish somewhat bitter and roasted. Not too much sweetness throughout, no fruity notes, and no alcoholic tinge. This beer has a belwo average strength aroma overall.


This is a medium full bodied brew with a low amount of carbonation, a medium weight, and an above average viscosity, which makes this a heavier feeling beer that is better sipped than chugged, as is every good beer. This also means that this beer is better equipped for the colder months of winter, so we wouldn't recommend this for the Girls Gone Wild island in July. This beer offers only a moderate amount of crispness at the end of a dull, yet lingering somewhat dry finish which contains a low, but detectable amount of alcohol warming. This beer has a smooth feel overall.


Is indicated by the aroma of this dark beer, the flavor of this beeer is heavy on the dark roasted malt side with a good amount of dark chocolate and bittersweet coffee notes. This beer's flavor profile is held up by a sweet, cookie like biscuity undertone and a somewhat nutty secondary. This beer's flavor profile is only somewhat out of balance, as there is a dull, yet present inclusion of hops which helps enunciate a more bitter, lingering aftertaste at a dry finish which contains no alcohol or metallic taste.

Our Take

Generally speaking, this is a very good porter, especially if you can get your hands on it in growler or keg form. On the face of it, this dark and somewhat heavy feeling beer hits all of the right trademark notes of what makes a good American style porter, except for two areas: the real presence of fresh hops and a more crisp, dry finish. This beer's rather weak aroma was also a hit against what could have been a higher score. Still, anyone within the area of Bell's Brewery's distribution should give this beer a try, unless you aren't looking for something on the heavier or maltier side. We'd also only send out a recommendation to try this if either your beer drinking habits are not entirely dictated by the temperature outside, or it is in fact, at least pretty cool outside. As with any real porter, this is a heavier beer which is better in limited quantities, despite an average ABV. This beer's fully fledged bittersweet roasted malt character makes it a good pairing option for beef stew, dark chocolate, oysters, mellow cheese, and Thin Mints Girl Scout Coookies.