Bell’s

BELL’S BREWERY

Bell’s Brewery was established in 1985 by Larry Bell in Kalamazoo, MI.  They continue to brew at the original Kalamazoo location and now also brew in their newer Comstock location. They have a brewpub in Downtown Kalamazoo called Eccentric Cafe where you can sample their beers.  Their more popular beers include Oberon and Kalamazoo Stout.

www.bellsbeer.com

Year-Round/Seasonals:

Limited/Specialty:

AMBER ALE: 93 Points

Perfect Balance

This Amber Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles and has a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Amber Ale deftly balances a mixture of toasted grain & light caramel notes with a range of floral, citrus and herbal hop notes, capped by a clean bitterness.”

My Description: The flavors in this beer are so nicely balanced that nothing is overpowering or sharp, which produces a beer that is buttery smooth and easy drinking. It has a nice sized, light tan colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a noticeable amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming with notes of caramel malt, raw grains, hops, and a touch of earthiness. It is light/medium in body with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. It is malty upfront with some toasty notes and some caramel notes which transitions into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter and ultra crisp. There is also some citrus notes as well floating around in the beer. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with smoked ribs, wood grilled chicken, or blue cheese burgers.

ABV: 5.8%  Color: Orange/Amber  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 3/10

BELL’S LAGER BEER: 87 Points

Lager of the Lakes

This Bohemian Style Pilsner is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles with a shelf life of six months.

Brewer’s Description: “Nicely balanced, Bell’s Lager Beer focuses on the flavors developed in the brew house, matching a crisp bitterness & distinctive herbal hop aromas to a simple yet firm malt backbone.”

My Description: This is an enjoyable lager that has a good malt body and a refreshing finish. However, it is not as clean and smooth as other Bohemian Pilsners. The head is also sub-par; initially it was big but quickly faded away after two minutes. The aroma has pleasant notes of fresh grains and spicy hops, however there is also this awkward funky smell that turned me off slightly but not enough to turn me away completely. The beer is roughly light/medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a dry finish. Upfront, sweet malt dominates the palate accompanied by some hop flavors. This quickly transitions into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter with flavor notes of raw grains. This lager is pretty straightforward, I just wish it was cleaned up a bit. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with smoked sausage, chicken burritos, or burgers.

ABV: 5.0% Color: Gold Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

BEST BROWN ALE: 94 Points

The Best? Perhaps.

This Brown Ale is released seasonally in the Autumn/Winter months in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “A smooth, toasty brown ale,Best Brown Ale is a mainstay in our fall & winter lineup. With hints of caramel and cocoa, the malt body has the depth to stand up to cool weather, but does not come across as heavy. This balancing act is aided by the generous use of American hops.”

My Description: Every aspect of this beer works together beautifully to produce an ale that is satisfying, delicious, and perfect for the season. It has a decent, light beige colored head that fades rather quickly but holds the rest of the way producing some lacing. The aroma is pleasing and welcoming with clean notes of toasted malts accompanied by some roastiness. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. This beer has a great balance of flavors with a creamy texture and a smooth body. First, there are notes of roasted malts and caramel which transition beautifully into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter. Occasionally the beer will taste almost like toasted bread. Best Brown is perfect for the season when you need to warm up a bit. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with lamb chops, baked ham, or stuffing.

ABV: 5.8% Color: Brown Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

CHERRY STOUT: 85 Points

Strong Tart Notes

Strong Tart Notes

This Stout is released seasonally between September and May in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “This unique ale begins its life as a powerful and richly sweet stout to which Michigan tart cherries are added. The resulting black brew is complex, sweet and tart with a distinct cherry finish. It will improve with cellaring.”

My Description: It begins with a good sized, dark beige colored head with a good retention level and it leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of chocolate, roasted malts, and a hint of cherry. Cherry Stout is medium/full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. This beer is interesting in that the cherry tastes great and the roasted notes too but they seem to somewhat clash when blended together in this ale, perhaps because there is just too much tart for this stout. Chocolate notes and some bitterness add to the flavor profile nicely and the alcohol is beautifully hidden. This is a good beer every now and then but it is hard to have more than one bottle and a time. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with chocolate desserts, strong cheeses, or roasted duck.

ABV: 7%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 3/10

CHRISTMAS ALE: 78 Points

Christmas Sucks!!

This Christmas Ale is released in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “The basic inspiration for Bell’s Christmas Ale was to create a sessionable holiday beer, using locally grown malt, which would stand apart from the array of spiced winter warmers that are typically introduced this time of year.”

My Description: I have no problem with wanting your beer to stand out among the rest, but this beer stands out in a negative light. It doesn’t taste like anything Christmas related, the flavors are bland and faint, and this beer is definitely not one to warm you up on those cold Christmas nights. It has a nice and fluffy, light beige colored head with a good retention level and a decent amount of lacing. The aroma is on the sweet side with faint notes of bread and caramel. It is medium bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. The beer has too faint of flavors. There is some toffee notes and a touch of pine hops, but not much else; this leads into an aftertaste is slightly bitter. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, grilled pork chops, or glazed turkey.

ABV: 5.5% Color: Hazy Orange/Amber Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

CONSECRATOR: 92 Points

Dedicate yourself to this

Dedicate yourself to this

This Doppelbock is released seasonally on Fat Tuesday in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Reddish brown in color with a mild hop profile, Consecrator Doppelbock is a well balanced, full bodied lager with hints of caramel and molasses in its smooth, malty finish. As with our other lager brands, Consecrator undergoes a lengthy lagering period. Unlike the 6 week profile of the other two brands, Consecrator experiences a full three months in the fermenting vessel, giving it an exceptionally smooth character.”

My Description: This is a delicious Doppelbock that displays a great array of dark fruit notes and the alcohol is beautifully hidden. It begins with a decent, beige colored head that fades rather quickly and leaves behind a spotty amount of lacing. The aroma smells great and is very welcoming with notes of raisins, figs, caramel malt, herbal hops, and tobacco. Consecrator is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. However, the beer does feel kind of thin preventing this bock from having that liquid bread characteristic that this style is known for but that is a minor letdown because the flavor profile is still excellent. Toasted malt and some caramel notes give way to notes of herbal hops, dried plums, raisins, and a touch of chocolate. The aftertaste is minimally bitter keeping this lager more on the sweet side. Bell’s Doppelbock is smooth, clean, and highly enjoyable. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with smoked sausage, baked pretzels, or grilled lamb chops.

ABV: 8%  Color: Deep Red/Brown  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2/10

EXPEDITION STOUT: 95 Points

Don’t drive on this expedition

This Russian Imperial Stout is released in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with an unlimited shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.”

My Description: Complex is the perfect adjective to describe the flavor profile of this stout; not only does it have a lot going on initially, but as the beer warms up, new flavor notes are introduced that compliment the rest of the flavors nicely. The head was enormous and dense with a dark beige color. The head lasted forever and produced an abundant amount of lacing. The aroma is welcoming and enjoyable with notes of roasted malt, chocolate, dark fruits, roasted coffee, and a touch of alcohol. It is full bodied and creamy with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. Upon first sip, one will notice how strong and robust the flavors are. It is semi-sweet upfront with notes of roasted malts, coffee, chocolate, and dark fruits like raisins and dried prunes. The aftertaste balances it out nicely with moderate bitterness level. This beer will definitely warm you up and the alcohol taste is slightly noticeable, which I enjoyed. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with roasted lamb chops, grilled steak, or tiramisu.

ABV: 10.5% Color: Black Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 4.5/10

HELL HATH NO FURY: 88 Points

like a woman's scorn

like a woman scorned

This Belgian Strong Dark Ale is released seasonally in Mid Autumn in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Originally conceived along the lines of a Belgian Dubbel, Hell Hath No Fury… Ale morphed during development into something entirely different. Blending a pair of Belgian abbey-style yeasts into a recipe more akin to a roasty stout, Hell Hath No Fury… Ale offers up warm, roasted notes of coffee & dark chocolate together with the fruity & clove-like aromas.”

My Description: This is an intriguing hybrid of styles that isn’t amazing but it is worth drinking on that cool Autumn night. It begins with a decent sized, beige colored head that fades quickly and leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is interesting and slightly complex with notes of dark fruits, sweet malt, Belgian yeast, and a touch of roasted spices. This ale is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile follows the nose nicely but is more complex. There are flavor notes of figs, molasses, toasted bread, and mild spices. There is also an earthy note accompanied by some minor roasted malt flavors. The aftertaste is slightly bitter with an interesting smoky presence. The alcohol is nicely hidden and this makes for a good sipper. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with grilled lamb chops, Chilean Sea Bass, or roasted duck.

ABV: 7.7%  Color: Dark Brown  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2/10

HOPSLAM: 100 Points

Definitely a hop slam

Definitely a hop slam

This Imperial IPA is released in the winter months usually starting in January in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.”

My Description: If this doesn’t do it for you then nothing will when it comes to Imperial IPA’s. This is one of the greatest examples of this style on the market and it actually makes me look forward to winter. It has an average, light beige colored head that lasts forever and produces a great amount of lacing. The aroma is nothing short of a Citrus/Floral Hop bomb that smells fresh and clean. The aroma is simply amazing for any hop lover. It is roughly medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Hopslam is very smooth with a semi-creamy texture and the alcohol is beautifully hidden. There is some malty sweetness upfront that is accompanied by a minor hint of honey but mainly the beer is hop forward with a heavenly citrus hop flavor that floats throughout the beer. The aftertaste is moderately bitter and remarkably clean that will linger for some time. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with blue cheese burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, or a spicy pizza.

ABV: 10%  Color: Orange  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 6.5/10

JAVA STOUT: 90 Points

For the coffee lover

For the coffee lover

This Coffee Stout is released seasonally in the Winter months in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Java Stout uses a custom blend of coffee beans, roasted locally for us by Water Street Coffee Joint, to generate its intense flavor. Possessing an unmistakable aromatic punch,Java Stout has long been one of our most popular stouts.”

My Description: It’s easy to see how this is one of the more popular Bell’s seasonal offerings. It is easy drinking with delicious flavors and the alcohol presence is beautifully hidden. It starts with a huge, dark beige colored head with a great retention level and it leaves behind an amazing amount of lacing. The aroma smells clean and welcoming with notes of roasted malt, coffee, and a touch of chocolate. Java Stout is fuller bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The texture is very smooth and creamy. It is immediately apparent that fresh coffee dominates the flavor profile, which is accompanied by notes of roasted malt and a touch of tobacco. The aftertaste is moderately bitter, however there is this sense of sweetness that lingers for a few seconds. It is a best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with steaks, BBQ pork chops, or tiramisu.

ABV: 7.5%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 4.5/10

KALAMAZOO STOUT: 87 Points

Kalamazoo Stout

This stout is available year-round and has a shelf life of six months. Available in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Kalamazoo Stout represents stouts in the Bell’s year-round roster, offering a blend of dark chocolate and coffee flavors with just a hint of brewer’s licorice. One of our oldest recipes, it balances a significant hop presence against the roast malt body.”

My Description: This is a nice Stout that is brewed with licorice and you can pick up on that licorice if you search for it. The head is really nice; it is beige in color that is around 1 inch thick and produces a really nice lacing. The aroma is filled with a dry roasted coffee scent with a minor licorice addition; it is pleasant and inviting. You will notice how smooth and easy feeling this stout is as soon as you drink it. It has a roasted coffee taste with some licorice flavor that leads into a dry and bitter aftertaste. A nicely done stout that is full bodied and enjoyable.

ABV: 6.0% Color: Black Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

MIDWESTERN PALE ALE: 88 Points

Great Everyday Pale Ale

This American Pale Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Brewed with barley from our farm in central Michigan, Midwestern Pale Ale stands apart from the model of completely hop-dominated pale ales, offering a noticeable degree of malt body to counter the hop bitterness. A blend of floral & herbal hop notes provide the aromatic & flavor highlights, alongside the distinctive contribution of our house ale yeast. A crisp bitterness finishes the experience without being harsh.”

My Description: This is a nicely done pale ale with clean flavors and a crisp, refreshing finish. However, I will have to disagree with the brewer’s description about the beer having a good balance between malt and hop bitterness; this beer is definitely more on the bitter side. It has a nice sized, off-white colored head that retains decently and produces a good amount of lacing. The aroma is simple enough with notes of grains mixed with a floral hop note and a touch of hop spice. It is roughly light/medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Upfront, there are flavor notes of floral and citrus hops accompanied by a welcoming malt addition. This transitions into a smooth and enjoyable aftertaste that is moderately bitter. Overall, the beer is very smooth and great for everyday. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with burgers, BBQ chicken, or ribs.

ABV: 5.2% Color: Hazy Gold Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 5/10

OARSMAN ALE: 85 Points

Refreshing boat beer? Sure

This Berliner Weiss Style beer is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Oarsman Ale uses a classic German brewing technique to impart a light, refreshing tartness. The grain bill includes a healthy portion of wheat, while citrusy hops lend bright notes to the aroma. Rather than being the dominant flavor note, the tartness in Oarsman takes on more of a palate-cleansing role, making it perfect for pairing with food.”

My Description: The low alcohol content is designed to make this beer sessionable and the good flavors and crisp finish makes this beer enjoyable, but only for those who enjoy the tart and slightly sour addition to their beers. It has an average sized, white colored head that fades pretty quick leaving a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma is rather dry smelling with notes of raw grains, a touch of hops, and some yeastiness. It is lighter bodied with a slightly higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. There is a present, yet subtle sourness throughout the beer that also tastes tarty. The flavors in this beer include some wheat malt notes, lemon, and a hint of spiciness in the finish. The beer is smooth and refreshing and good representation of the style. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled sausage, light salads, or Old Bay seasoned shrimp.

ABV: 4.0% Color: Hazy Straw Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 1.5/10

OATSMOBILE: 92 Points

Flavorful and easy drinking

Flavorful and easy drinking

This Pale Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Aromatic. Approachable. Unique. Intriguing. Happy-go-lucky. Full-bodied. And we’re not just talking about the horse. This hop-forward session Pale Ale uses a blend of classic and modern Pacific Northwest hops, including Mosaic, Equinox and Glacier, for a pungent blend of peach, mango and tropical aromas. The signature ingredient – oats – are what makes Oatsmobile Ale stand apart, and gives it a body that you don’t see in most other session Pale Ales.”

My Description: This ale does have a surprisingly denser mouthfeel than most pale ales, especially at this low ABV. This could easily become a go to beer. It begins with a good sized, white colored head with an excellent retention level that leaves behind a great amount of lacing. The aroma is inviting with notes of stone fruits, woodsy hops, and some citrus hops. Oatsmobile is medium/full bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile shows a nice balance between the malty backbone and delicious hop notes. Citrus hops, woodsy hops, and a touch of tropical notes intertwine with notes of crackers and pale malts. The aftertaste is moderately low in bitterness with lingering resiny hop notes. This beer is a great session beer with lots of flavors and a good body. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with veggie pizza, Thai noodles, or fried chicken salads.

ABV: 4.3%  Color: Copper  Sweetness: 2/10  Bitterness: 4/10

OBERON: 90 Points

The Legend

This American Wheat Ale is released seasonally in the summer in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Bell’s Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell’s signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer.”

My Description: Oberon is a crisp, refreshing, tasty, and easy drinking beer making it a great choice in those hot summer months. It has an average sized, white colored head with a good retention level and a good amount of lacing. The aroma is pleasant and welcoming. It smells of fresh grains and grass, there are also notes of lemon and a touch of hops. It is roughly medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a semi-dry finish. There are flavors of wheat malt, some citrus notes, a touch of spice, and an apparent sweetness. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, giving balance to the overall flavor profile. This beer is best served at cooler temperatures, as it warms up it seems to lose its charm. It is best served around 40°F and pairs well with light salads, grilled shrimp, or a cheeseburger.

ABV: 5.8%  Color: Hazy Gold  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2.5/10

PALE ALE: 84 Points

Good Session Pale Ale

This Pale Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles with a shelf life of 6 months.

Brewer’s Description: “Pale Ale stands apart from the model of completely hop-dominated pale ales, offering a noticeable degree of malt body to counter the hop bitterness. A blend of floral & herbal hop notes provide the aromatic & flavor highlights, alongside the distinctive contribution of our house ale yeast. A crisp bitterness finishes the experience without being harsh.”

My Description: There was nothing to make this beer stand out among other Pale Ale’s, which is just fine because it doesn’t do anything wrong either. Picking up a six pack of this ale to watch the game with sounds ideal, as it is refreshing, crisp, and goes down easy. It has a good sized, off-white colored head that fades to a film that holds the rest of the way producing a good amount of lacing. The aroma smells fresh and clean with notes of grains, floral hops, and a touch of citrus hops. It is roughly medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. There are malt flavor notes in this beer that are accompanied by notes of citrus hops. As the beer warms up, a lemon flavor becomes more apparent in the beer. The aftertaste is slightly bitter and lingers for only a few seconds. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with burgers, cheese sticks, or pizza.

ABV: 5.2% Color: Hazy Dark Gold Sweetness: 2.5/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

PORTER: 91 Points

Nicely Done

This Porter is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Hints of dark chocolate and freshly roasted coffee provide the focus, while hops remain in the background. Not as full-bodied as a stout,Porter bridges the gap between malty brown ales and our more heavily roasted stouts.”

My Description: This is a nice representation of a porter that is balanced, smooth, and easy drinking. It has a big and fluffy, beige colored head with a great retention level and produces a good amount of lacing. The aroma is strong and potent with the fragrance of coffee, which is accompanied by notes of chocolate and roasted malts. It is medium bodied with a slightly lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The beer is rather robust with flavor notes of roasted malts, coffee, and a touch of chocolate. The aftertaste is slightly bitter but does not linger much. There is also this sharp sweetness that pops through, this balances the beer out but it felt almost intrusive at times. Nonetheless, this is a good beer that is tasty and enjoyable. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with fish & chips, BBQ chicken pizza, or dry-rubbed ribs.

ABV: 5.6% Color: Black Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 3/10

SMITTEN: 93 Points

Smitten are we?

Smitten are we?

This Golden Rye Pale Ale is available as a Spring seasonal in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “With wonderfully bitter citrus notes, resinous hop flavors and earthy overtones, this interesting take on the American Pale Ale doesn’t leave a lot of room to wonder if you’ll love it.”

My Description: I was smitten with this beer as soon as I took the first sip. I love the addition of rye in this beer, it gives it just a hint of spice that is welcoming and satisfying. It has a big and dense, light beige colored head with a great retention level and real nice lacing. The aroma is strong with notes of wood and citrus hops accompanied by notes of earth and grain. It is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Hop flavors dominate the profile with a clean citrus hop note accompanied by a floral hop note. There is a tasty malt background with a touch of spice. The aftertaste is moderately bitter but not sharp or harsh. Great brew! It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with grilled Seabass, burgers, or buffalo wings.

ABV: 6%  Color: Hazy Orange/Bronze  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 6/10

SPECIAL DOUBLE CREAM STOUT: 92 Points

Who likes a creamy texture?

This cream stout is released seasonally in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Special Double Cream Stout derives its name from its smooth, creamy texture, not the ingredients. Completely dairy-free, this stout blends ten different specialty malts to yield a remarkable depth of flavor. With only a touch of burnt notes, Special Double Cream Stout focuses on the softer, cocoa & espresso-like aspects of roasted malt.”

My Description: There is definitely a sense of creaminess throughout the beer which one must enjoy in order to appreciate this stout because it has that milk-like texture that could turn you away. It has a large and dense, dark beige colored head with a great retention level that lasts the whole way and leaves behind a substantial amount of lacing. The aroma is strong with notes of roasted malt and coffee. There is also a hint of something burnt which I can’t figure out, maybe burnt grains. It is roughly medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. This stout is very smooth and nicely balanced. Upfront it is semi-sweet with some roasted malt notes and a touch of coffee. This quickly transitions into an aftertaste that is slightly bitter and lingers a bit. It is best served around 50°F and pairs nicely with burgers, fish & chips, or Scotch eggs.

ABV: 6.1% Color: Black Sweetness: 3/10 Bitterness: 3.5/10

THE ORACLE: 100 Points

Bells Oracle

The medium to the hops gods

This Imperial IPA is released seasonally in late Summer in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Our take on the West Coast-style Double India Pale Ale, The Oracle places hop intensity first & foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt & balance. The fireworks start with the floral aromatic punch of two separate dry-hop sessions with Amarillo and NZ Pacific Jade. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise.”

My Description: This is exactly what a double IPA is all about; massive hop notes, aggressively bitter, strong, and highly drinkable. Bell’s has created a hop masterpiece to hold me down until Hopslam is released. It begins with a large, white colored head with an excellent retention level and an excellent amount of lacing. The aroma is dank and inviting with strong hops notes of citrus, floral, and some fruits like apricots. The Oracle is medium bodied with a moderate carbonation level and a dry finish. Smooth and delicious, the flavor profile delivers on all fronts. The alcohol is beautifully hidden and there is the slightest addition of malt notes that builds the foundation. The hops taste fresh and are very potent with notes of pine hops, some citrus hops, and a hint of tropical hops. The aftertaste is highly bitter and lingers forever. This should be a sought after IIPA for any hop lover. It is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with spicy Thai noodles, goat cheese, or jerk chicken.

ABV: 10%  Color: Hazy Orange  Sweetness: 1.5/10  Bitterness: 8.5/10

THIRD COAST BEER: 86 Points

It’s a bitter coast

This American Blonde Ale is available year-round in 12 oz. bottles with a shelf life of six months.

Brewer’s Description: “Assertively hopped, Third Coast Beer offers a crisp, dry bitterness with a mixture of floral & herbal aromas.”

My Description: This makes a great everyday beer, assuming you enjoy bitter beers because the brewer’s description was not an exaggeration. It has a good sized, white colored head that holds the whole way producing a few rings of lacing along the way. The aroma is basically hop forward with notes of floral and woodsy hops; there is also a hint of malt as well. It is light/medium in body with a moderately high carbonation level and a dry, crisp finish. Overall, the beer was refreshing with flavor notes of woodsy hops, malted grains, and a hint of lemon/citrus. The aftertaste is moderately bitter with a slight sharpness in the back of the throat. It is best served around 40°F and pairs nicely with fried chicken salads, ribs, or burgers.

ABV: 4.8% Color: Hazy Straw Sweetness: 2/10 Bitterness: 5.5/10

THIRD COAST OLD ALE: 98 Points

A Bell’s Masterpiece

This American Barleywine is released in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with an unlimited shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Third Coast Old Ale focuses on malt, offering notes of burnt caramel & other earthy malt flavors. Designed with vintage aging in mind, the malt aspect is matched to a heavy complement of hops. Sharply bitter at first, this will fold into the malt character over time and balance out the maltiness.”

My Description: This is a great representation of an American Barleywine, I was not expecting it to be as delicious as it was. (As with all Barleywines, aging the beer with mellow the flavors and make it syrupy smooth.) It has an average sized, dark tan colored head that fades but holds most of the way producing a good amount of lacing. The aroma is complex and inviting with notes of caramel and toffee, sweet malt, molasses, and dark fruits like cherries and raisins. It is a full bodied beer with a moderate carbonation level and a creamy, velvety texture. The flavor profile is nothing short of heaven; it has a strong, but not overpowering, sweet caramel malt backbone accompanied by notes of dark fruits like cherries, plums, and raisins along with a touch of tobacco. This transitions beautifully into an aftertaste that is very smooth and moderately bitter bringing a satisfying balance. The alcohol taste is almost non-existent, but you will feel its welcoming presence. This is best served around 55-60°F and pairs nicely with grilled lamb chops, honey glazed baked ham, or your favorite steak.

ABV: 10.2% Color: Brown/Mahogany Sweetness: 3.5/10 Bitterness: 4/10

TWO HEARTED ALE: 93 Points

Bell’s Two Hearted

 This IPA is both malty and hoppy; which is why it’s called Two Hearted. This beer is available year-round and has a shelf life of six months. This is sold in 12 oz. six packs or 5-Liter mini kegs.

Brewer’s Description:  “Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.”

My Description:  This beer’s characteristics match the brewer’s description perfectly which shows the quality of this beer.  You don’t have to play the guessing game like you do with other beers; what you see is what you get.  This ale starts off with a foamy white head that lasts the whole way and produces really nice lacing.  The aroma is a mixture of hops and sweet malt which is accompanied by a floral and fruity scent that is both pleasant and unusual.  It has a very crisp and refreshing taste with a medium body that is easy drinking.  Initially, you will pick up on floral-like flavors that are sweet with a little kick of bitterness and no intrusive alcohol taste.  This will open up to a more bitter aftertaste that is still mild however.  It is best explained as a balanced beer that delivers strong notes of sweet and bitter flavors, which is exciting to your taste buds because they are probably not used to this style of IPA.

ABV: 7%  Color: Light Copper  Sweetness:  3.5/10  Bitterness:  6/10

WHEAT LOVE ALE: 93 Points

Love the Wheat

Love the Wheat

This Wheatwine is released seasonally between October and February in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Bell’s Wheat Project (2005) is an experimental foray into the development of complex flavors in beer. The Project comprises five new ales, four in series and one specialty strong product. The first four, Wheat 2, Wheat 4, Wheat 6 and Wheat eight are all made using 55% Wheat (either wholly or mostly malted) and 45% Barley malt. The barley malt makeup is exactly the same in each of the four and consists of three different malts. The total amount of grain in each of the four is also exactly the same, so each of them should have a virtually identical original gravity. The type and amount of hops in each of the four is exactly the same. And the processing through the brewhouse and fermentation is also exactly the same. The changing factors between the ales are the composition of the 55% of wheat used and the type and number of yeast strains used. In Wheat 2 the 55% of wheat is made up of two different kinds of wheat malt, and this ale is made with two different yeasts. Wheat 4 is made with four different wheats and four yeasts. Wheat six and eight made with six and eight wheats and yeasts respectively. The final product, Bell’s Wheat Love Ale, is made with the eight yeasts of Wheat eight and is a strong, but relatively light colored, wheatwine.”

My Description: The idea for this beer is terrific and Bells delivers. The different types of wheat and yeast combine to form an ale that is intriguing, satisfying, and memorable. It begins with a huge, white colored head even with a delicate pour. The head lasts forever but leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma smells great and is very interesting because the inclusion of many different yeasts are contributing scents typical of German Hefe’s, American Wheat, and Belgian Wits. There are notes of wheat malt, floral, bubblegum, berries, and yeast spices among others. Wheat Love is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is just as complex and the aroma. A tasty wheat malt backbone holds the many yeast notes including: spices, earthiness, bananas, and hints of berry fruit. There is also some sweetness in the beer and the aftertaste is minimally bitter. The alcohol is slightly apparent and adds depth. This is a great sipper and best served around 50°F.

ABV: 8%  Color: Gold  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 2/10

WINTER WHITE ALE: 90 Points

Always a white winter in Michigan

This Belgian Inspired Ale is released in the winter months in 12 oz. bottles with a six month shelf life.

Brewer’s Description: “Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Bell’s Winter White Ale offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices.”

My Description: This is a tasty and easy drinking take on a winter ale; it’s maintains the spice notes which one comes expect but it’s not as strong and warming as others. It has a decent, white colored head that fades rather quickly and leaves behind a minimal amount of lacing. The aroma smells great with notes of sweet malt, cloves and other spices, some citrus, and a hint of coriander. It is medium bodied with a higher carbonation level and a crisp finish. It is sweet upfront with notes of wheat, lemon/citrus, coriander, and bubblegum. This aftertaste is smooth with notes of cloves and spices which linger for a while. This enjoyable beer is best served around 45°F and pairs nicely with baked ham, pumpkin pie, or roasted duck.

ABV: 5%  Color: Hazy Lemon/Orange  Sweetness: 3/10  Bitterness: 1.5/10

30th ANNIVERSARY: 97 Points

Great achievement

Great achievement

This Imperial Stout is a one time release in 12 oz. bottles.

Brewer’s Description: “Flavors of dark chocolate and fruit meld to create a full-bodied, roasty stout. A fair amount of Polaris hops lend a brightness and a nice character that will help carry the beer in its early stages making it incredibly drinkable and interesting. Malt characteristics will continue to develop over time, so that beer drinkers who choose to cellar it can enjoy the beer for years to come. This big, strong celebratory beer (11% ABV) will be released in September coinciding with our 30th anniversary celebration.”

My Description: This is one chewy stout that is dense and flavorful. It begins with a decent sized, dark beige colored head that fades to a film that holds most of the way leaving behind some spotty lacing. The aroma is welcoming with deep dark fruit notes along with some caramel malt and a touch of sweet chocolate. 30 Ann. is full bodied with a lower carbonation level and a dry finish. The flavor profile is slightly complex with dark fruit undertones accompanied by hints of licorice, espresso, and a touch of alcohol. Smoky notes can be detected along with some roasted malts. The aftertaste is moderately low in bitterness bringing great balance to this otherwise sweeter stout. Overall, this is great Imperial Stout that is best sipped to enjoy all the developing flavors. It is best served around 55°F and pairs nicely with grilled steak, tiramisu, or strong cheeses.

ABV: 11%  Color: Black  Sweetness: 2.5/10  Bitterness: 3.5/10