Named for its velvety smooth, creamy texture, this incredibly rich stout is brewed with 10 different specialty roasted malts chosen to impart notes of rich mocha and espresso. Dark and sweet tones intermingle with a soft, roasty finish.


Bell’s Brewery underwent a recent packaging and graphic design update, notably transforming the label of Special Double Cream Stout. The previous winter-themed design, reminiscent of a leafless tree branch, has been replaced by a more fitting spiral of barley on a brown background. While the old design exuded a surreal winter feel, the new one aligns better with the stout or porter aesthetic, catering to the casual consumer.


Upon pouring, an exuberant head with impressive retention forms, accompanied by a mesmerizing reverse cascade of bubbles. However, a closer inspection reveals a notable amount of yeast sediment at the bottle’s bottom, adding a chalky Marmite flavor when introduced to the beer. The aroma, initially marked by black olive and tootsie roll, leans towards a savory profile with cinnamon, black pepper, and saltwater dominating, leaving it far from the anticipated cream stout fragrance.


The flavor experience kicks off with an unexpectedly intense bitterness, defying the expectations of a sweet stout. Surprisingly thin for its style, the body imparts an alcohol presence that feels more in line with a 5% ABV beer, despite the label stating 6.1%. The bitterness, seemingly not hop-derived, stems from a substantial amount of roasted malts and potentially roasted unmalted grains, offering an earthy bitterness akin to burnt toast or pumpernickel bread. This, coupled with the lack of sugar, results in a high apparent bitterness on the palate.


The thin body and minimal sugar content, combined with malt-derived bitterness and moderate hop content, contribute to a high apparent bitterness on the palate. While initially super bitter, the beer evolves positively as it warms, reaching its peak at room temperature. The roasted malt takes center stage, devoid of yeast, alcohol, sugar, or hops interference. The subsequent nose delights with subtle amaretto and Godiva liquor notes, rewarding those who invest the time to let the beer aerate.


This beer’s simplicity makes it an excellent educational tool to appreciate the nuances of roasted malt without distractions. It successfully delivers the beloved characteristics of stout/porter without the interference of distracting sugar or high alcohol content. Despite its virtues, a major qualm lies in its naming and style attribution, which may mislead consumers. Contrary to expectations, it does not fit the sweet stout, cream stout, or double stout categories. Personal opinions aside, the absence of lactose makes it a noteworthy choice for lactose-intolerant and casual beer consumers alike. A renaming to “Bell’s Special Winter Stout” might better align with its true essence.