Beer No. 64 – Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale
It starts, as it usually doesn’t, with something special. What the hell are these little pollen dusts doing in my glass, and why are they turning me on? Am I drinking beer today or chicken stock from a Michelin starred kitchen?
These Rye Beers have put me on full tilt. Like Emmy Rossum, I can’t stop thinking about them.
So I let this brew with the IPA nose sit for a few weeks before granting myself the privilege of tasting it. The moment had to be right, as it is now. A near Spring day, momma bear and little b napping, and little ol’ me with nothing to do except relax with a pint that smells like cantaloupe, coriander and pine.
It’s not my favorite in this style, no. But it is a decent effort, highlighted by a refreshing weight. It’s rare to find a cool-your-mouth brew with enough body that you have to be reminded to swallow. Maybe I’m overreacting to last night. Or maybe not. I think it really does have that balance.
When the lips meet the glass there’s also rye bread (more obviously than with others in this style), bitter honey, dried leaves and mostly there roundness that’s sullied only by the absence of a citrus, ideally tangerine, note.
Beeradvocate Rating: 85
ratebeer Rating: 87
Hayward Abbey Rating: 85
Beer No. 27 – Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
Every beer judged solely on its merits. But do you have to admit this is the ugliest label you’ve ever seen? Like some half-eaten fish floating in an e. coli laced Michigan swamplake.
STYLE: American IPA
LOOK: Hazy, thin pennies, a wee bit watery. I’m not sure it’s strong enough to hold a meaningful head, even if it wanted to.
NOSE: Fruity sourdough and buttered popcorn. More fruit than hops, more malt than expected. Very decent.
MOUTH: Fickle beer, maybe deceptive. The start, it’s real nice. Sugared grapefruit and almond cake. But that gives way, a little too soon. Acerbic, canned paint, hand soap. Drink this one quickly.
Beeradvocate Rating: 95
Hayward Abbey Rating: 83
Beer No. 9 – Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout
I’ve recently learned that “black licorice” is redundant, in the formal, I’m smarter than you and went to college “in Boston” kind of way. Highfalutin types will simply say this brew is kissed with licorice. And about that, and maybe only that, they’re right.
STYLE: American Stout
LOOK: Purpley black with a brown leather head. Rich consistency planted firmly below a frothy three-finger topper.
NOSE: Moon pies and thick malt. There’s something just sweet I can’t put my finger on. Maybe plum, maybe not. A little mysterious. I like it.
MOUTH: Licorice, smokey, charcoal. Phenols as it warms, more than expected for a 6% beer. A little too burnt on the back end, and despite its drinkability, maybe lacking a little complexity. The flaws, they aren’t prominent, but they keep this otherwise quaffable pint a few points from exceptional.
Beeradvocate Rating: 91
Hayward Abbey Rating: 87