Posts Tagged ‘Bell’s Brewery’

12 Beers of X-Mas: Bell’s Winter White

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

From Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan, I’m tasting the Winter White Ale. This is a wheat beer in the style of a true Belgian witbier, made spicy not by the addition of spices but rather by a dominant yeast strain.

Bell's Winter White AleThe Winter White pours a solidly hazy golden straw color. The bone white head looks creamy but falls away quickly. The nose is generously spicy with cloves, a hint of citric orange, and a rich toasty malt character.

The taste follows similarly, with a significant but not sharp clove flavor backed by biscuity maltiness. A bit of an herbal hop bitterness balances the malt quite well. The malt sweetness fades just a bit quicker than the yeast spiciness and the hops, leaving a tantalizing tingle on the tongue.

This beer is dangerously drinkable. Remarkably balanced, with an understated complexity and clean refreshing character that leaves you asking for another sip. It pairs well with spicy food. With a little more substance to the head and the flavor this would be the perfect beer.

+Bell’s Winter White Ale

4.0 (3-8-7-5-17)

Bell’s Consecrator Dopplebock

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

This afternoon I am trying the Consecrator Dopplebock from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This 8% beer is another newly available in Iowa thanks to the recent legislative change.

This copper-colored lager has a creamy tan head that slowly fades away. The nose is light but complicated. 2010-03-27-consecratorThere is a general malty sweet aroma of caramel and dark fruit. This is accented by a sharp spiciness from the hops and hints of alcohol.

Consecrator has a thick malty flavor with a serious hop balance. The malt is caramel sweet with toast and brown sugar. There is a flavor that borders on smokiness, reminiscent of rye. The sweetness is balanced by an earthy hop bitterness. Noble and grassy hop flavors are significant but subtle, if only due to the strength of the other flavors. The palate is strong enough to carry the flavors, but perhaps a bit thick, coating the mouth just a little long.

An impressive beer. Balanced in every respect, with many intriguing flavors.

++Bell’s Consecrator Dopplebock

4.4 (4-8-9-4-19)

Oktoberfest: Domestics

Friday, October 30th, 2009

2009-10-30-lhThe month of October is almost over, and Munich’s Theresienwiese has been empty for weeks. Perhaps it’s about time for me to move on from my festbier stint. But before I do I must try a few domestic Oktoberfests. After all, they say the highest-selling festbier is not Bavarian, but American (Sam Adams). I won’t be trying that one tonight, but I do have a few good selections from Left Hand of Longmont, Colorado, Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan, and August Schell out of New Ulm, Minnesota.

The Left Hand Oktoberfest pours an orange-amber with a little creamy straw head. The nose is very thin.2009-10-30-bells A bit of herbal hops and the faintest hint of malt are overpowered by a strange vegetal character and cider aroma. A smooth malty flavor makes up for this. Rich toast character is backed up by a residual sweetness that is perhaps a little too strong, leaving a bit of a cloying sensation.

Bell’s Octoberfest is a yellower goldenrod with the same amount of white head. It also has a light aroma, with a good noble hop character and some toast. This same balance is reflected in the flavor, featuring a rich herbal and notably bitter hop profile accompanied by a clean malt taste. Just a bit of mouthcoating despite active carbonation.

The Schell Octoberfest is a gamboge color with a bit of bone-white head. A sweet, mildly malty nose almost escapes taint from the cider aroma.2009-10-30-schell A sweet, mildly malty flavor almost escapes taint from the DMS corn taste. The high level of residual sweetness and lack of bitterness throw the balance all out of whack.

+/-Bell’s Octoberfest

3.4 (3-7-6-4-14)

+/-Left Hand Oktoberfest

3.0 (3-5-7-3-12)

+/-Schell Octoberfest

2.6 (3-6-5-2-10)

Bell’s Oberon

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

OberonThe summer ale of Bell’s Brewery in Comstock, Michigan claims to have “the color and scent of a summer afternoon”. If any style can make a claim to this it would be an American wheat like Oberon.

Oberon is a golden poppy color with a generous haze. The head is bone white and creamy, leaves a great lacing, but falls a bit too quickly. The nose is delicate. All you get is hints of various aromas: hints of toast, hints of orange, hints of orange blossom. A gentle floral fruitiness.

The taste is somewhat more assertive, yet still mild. Great malt notes of toast and a bit of caramel. A perfectly balancing hop bitterness keeps this beer refreshing. The hops don’t stop there, though, contributing a spicy and fruity character that rounds out the flavor.

Light, balanced, refreshing, and flavorful. A great summer beer.

+Bell’s Oberon Ale

3.9 (4-7-8-5-15)

Bell’s Expedition Stout

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Bell's Expedition StoutFrom Bell’s Brewery up in Kalamazoo, Michigan I’m having a bottle of the Expedition Stout, their imperial. As I understand it this is basically twice the recipe for their Kalamazoo Stout, so it will be interesting to see how it compares with my rating of that beer.

The Expedition Stout has a pillow of thick, frothy bronze head atop a nearly pitch black beer. Holding it up to the light I see it has a tinge of a deep dark caramel or amber. This beer is richly aromatic, with the smell of dark roast coffee beans and mocha. Just a hint of sweetness on the nose, as dark chocolate. A sweet alcoholic complexity as well, like brandy. Just a bit of raisiny fruit.

The taste is rich, full and sweet, but neither cloying nor overpowering. Plenty of dark chocolate and caramel flavor, with a background of well-done toast. As it sits on the tongue the alcohol comes out just a bit: delicately hinting at strength, like brandy. The caramel recedes and in its place is strong black coffee, a dark South American roast. Remarkably thick, this stout is somehow still playful.

More action every time I set down the glass, the Expedition leaves a strong lacing. Wow this is good. I wish my roommate hadn’t just lit that cigarette, but it pretty much overpowers the smell drifting in my door anyway.

++Bell’s Expedition Stout

4.3 (5-8-9-4-17)

12 Beers of X-Mas: Bell’s Christmas Ale

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas my beer fridge gave to me a Bell’s Christmas Ale. This offering from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan uses all Michigan-grown barley and lots of Michigan-grown hops. It’s said to be brewed as a scotch ale, an amber-colored malty and earthy style.

The Christmas Ale is an opal persimmon. The head, the color of wheat, is pillowy and lingering. The aroma is lightly fruity and cidery. I barely notice a bit of dark malt as well. A small but persistent sharpness indicates alcohol.

The flavor is prominently bitter. Though overall it is not more bitter than many regular pale ales, the bitterness is earthy and flat and almost numbs the tip of my tongue. The palate starts out intense as well, and it is cloyingly sweet. On the middle of the tongue i note a spiced flavor: a combination of ginger and pepper. The earthy hops contribute, and some caramel and brown malt flavor as well. A decent Christmas beer, though I’m not sure it’s very Scottish.

+/-Bell’s Christmas Ale

3.2 (4-7-6-2-13)

Stout Week: Kalamazoo and Shakespeare

Monday, November 24th, 2008

In England, stout was originally a term for strong porters according to Ron Pattinson. In the U.S., it has come to be defined as a distinct style. Stout is one of the darkest styles, with beers ranging from dark brown to obsidian black. Roasted malt flavor and aroma are key, often as coffee and chocolate character. American ones sometimes are loaded with citrus hoppiness as well.

First off is Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout. The bottle proclaims this is a “stout brewed with brewers’ licorice” which I take to mean roasted malt. The Kalamazoo Stout gives a decent frothy copper head, but it doesn’t last long. That’s probably because it is not too strongly carbonated. The aroma is very faint, but what is there reminds me of dark roast coffee, dark chocolate, and caramel.

The flavor is quite mild as well. There is a certain roasty bitterness, much like coffee. Slightly sweet , hardly carbonated, and made with tons of dark malts, this beer still manages to be playful and light on the way down. A great example of a classic style.

Next up will be Rogue Shakespeare Stout. This pours a dark brown that can only be called bistre. Immediately there is almost no head and it fades fast from there, but what I can see is ochre. The aroma is quite prominently citric, with some roast character breaking through.

The flavor is actually somewhat unpleasant. The orange, citric hop flavors are fighting with the roasted malt. Roast bitterness does not mix well with fruity flavor. Here is what this flavor reminds me of: this morning, lacking a better vessel to hold OJ on my way to work, I put it in my old travel coffee mug. The palate is quite thin, almost frothy. The unpleasant bitterness lingers… unpleasantly. I should have drank this colder.

+Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout

RateBeer: 3.6 (3-7-7-4-15)

+/-Rogue Shakespeare Stout

RateBeer: 2.7 (2-7-4-3-11)

Two Hearted Ale

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Note that unlike every other beer made by Bell’s Brewery (other than those labeled Kalamazoo), this beer is not Bell’s Two Hearted, but rather simply Two Hearted Ale. It is an IPA brewed to 7% alcohol, but delicate enough to be sessionable.

Two Hearted pours a thoroughly opal gamboge, an almost mustard yellow color. The head is thick but lacy, straw-colored, and lasts quite a while, forming a mushroom in the center. The hop aroma is strong enough that you don’t even need to lean in. Supremely floral, strong rose and orange blossoms predominate. Some grapefruit shines through as well.

While the flavor is unmistakably bitter, it is not as intense as many American IPAs. Floral hop flavor, light citric fruitiness, and a faint tartness make up the immediate impression. The bitterness comes afterward with the liveliness of the carbonation and a slight sweetness to balance.

++Two Hearted Ale

RateBeer: 4.0 (4-8-8-3-17)

Hop Fest!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Last night Trevor and I sampled a few hoppy beers. We were too tired to get to the fourth (Goose Island Imperial IPA) but I’ll rate it eventually.

First off, Bell’s Hopslam, an Imperial IPA made with honey. I’m told this ages better than any other hoppy beer. We won’t really know because the bottle I have is from January of this year.

It pours a beautiful orange-tinted gold, lightly hazy. The head is creamy, lasts forever, and laces brilliantly. The aroma is strongly of fruit: peaches, orange blossoms, and grapefruit. It is a thick, somewhat sweet nose.

Immediately you get a strong floral, slightly fruity hop flavor. I note roses, orange blossoms, and apricots. The bitterness slowly grows to overpower the delicate flavor, and lingers. This beer is ever so slightly cloying, which actually balances the lingering bitterness. However, these long aftertastes do not get in the way of another sip. That’s dangerous at 10% alcohol.

Next up: Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton, an Imperial IPA aged in oak barrels. At first this seems like it must be more authentic to the history of India pale ale. Note that while Ballantine’s infamous IPA was aged in uncoated oak barrels such as the ones used at Dogfish Head, IPAs actually shipped to India were probably sent in pitched barrels to prevent any influence from the wood. Just saying…

On to drinking it. Burton, an almost clear copper, pours a good straw head. It has a light sweet aroma, somewhat herbal hoppy. There is also a significant caramel note and a little biscuit. I can also detect a bit of alcohol on the nose. Ethanol itself is not volatile, so you cannot smell it. A beer smelling boozy indicates the presence of fusel alcohols, a byproduct of warm, high alcohol fermentation. It is fusels that cause really painful hangovers.

Right at first you notice both a prominent bitterness and a strong sweetness. This beer is thick, and its sweetness is cloying, probably from the use of a large percentage of caramel malt. The oak certainly also adds sweetness and vanilla. The hop flavor is herbal and grassy.

I think perhaps the oak and the hops are competing too much in this beer. The hop flavor is too earthy. They would be better off using a lighter, more delicate flavor hop.

Last we have a bottle from the Tyranena “Brewers Gone Wild” series. This is Hop Whore, their Imperial IPA.

The appearance of this beer is not entirely appetizing. While it is a wonderful copper red color, there are some little chunkies floating and the head is somewhat soapy. The nose is great, though. A strong fruity hop aroma, peaches and some grapes.

Quick sharp hop bitterness, a little fruity and a little sweet. Notes of hop spiciness, reminiscent of cilantro. While it is pretty bitter, this fades and it lingers balanced. Very drinkable.

++Bell’s Hopslam

RateBeer: 4.0 (4-8-8-3-17)

+Dogfish Head Burton Baton

RateBeer: 3.2 (3-7-6-2-14)

+Tyranena Hop Whore

RateBeer: 3.2 (1-7-7-3-14)