bell brewery


Three black Bell’s a'tolling

Alongside Bell’s wonderful Two Hearted, lisaseifer and lesseifer sent me a trio of the Michigan brewery’s stouts as part of our transatlantic beer trade. I’d seen pictures and read posts about all three from the craft beer community on here and Instagram and was suitably excited to try them all, particularly Expedition Stout which had taken on a somewhat mythical status in my sometimes worryingly over active mind.  

So, where to start? How about Kalamazoo Stout (6.0% abv), brewed with brewers licorice y'say? Well now that sounds like fun, tastes pretty damned good as well. This stuff is really roasty, far more roasty than I expected in fact. Great news! Undertones of black treacle, licorice (bet y'didn’t see that coming), toffee, and vanilla support the bold French roast coffee and toasted cacao nib flavours. It starts off medium sweet but finishes bitter and charred. A great start!

Next up was Java Stout (7.5% abv), stout and coffee is a marriage made in heaven. Kinda like stout and chocolate, or stout and licorice, or stout and vanilla, ooh or stout and vanilla ice cream, or stout and chocolate ice cream, or… *ahem* This stuff packs an entire metric fuckton of coffee into every bottle (trufax) and the rich, roasty flavours of that coffee join cocoa, more coffee, caramel, even more coffee, and some coffee to deliver a decadent, sumptuous beer that kinda resembles a cold brew coffee (yeah no shit) topped off with malted milk and dusted with cocoa powder. Yup it’s that good.

The legendary Expedition Stout (10.5% abv) rounded things off, and what a way to end! It’s a wonderfully thick and smooth brew loaded with all the luxurious dark roast malt flavours I coulda hoped for. Coffee and dark chocolate mix with rich stewed fruits, there’s raisins, figs, cherries, and dates all gettin’ in on the action. Hints of vanilla, liquorice and molasses join in and there’s a very mild hop bitterness that helps take the edge off the initial sweetness, though it’s still sweeter than an old school (or new example of an old school, if that makes sense) English style impy. Anyhoo, it’s a truly fantastic beer, up there with my very favourite American imperial stouts. 

And so my all to brief dalliance with Bell’s Brewery ends, they’ve certainly made a fine impression on me and I hope that someday soon they’ll find themselves in a position to begin distributing at least some of their delicious beers to this side of the pond. Thank’s again to Lisa and Les, these really have been wall to wall awesome! You sure know how to pick ‘em.

Bell’s, Two Hearted Ale 7.0% abv

I’ve wanted to try this highly thought of Centennial single hopped IPA from Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery for some time. Unfortunately their wares don’t make it to this side of the pond so I was reduced to daydreaming about the multitude of potential deliciousness I’d never get to sample, then one day the totally awesome lisaseifer and lesseifer sent me a selection of their stuff via high speed carrier goose and woohoo! Two Hearted was finally mine!

It didn’t disappoint. Bold and resinous with orange led citrus flavours, the grapefruit following close behind, hints of peach, mango, whole pine boughs, and a lovely, strong biscuity malt backbone that provides sweetness in the middle and a great balance before a dry finish with a relatively low bitterness. It’s well carbed, light/medium bodied, and a pleasure to swill around y’mouth. 

So yeah I really enjoyed it, even at 14 years or so since its release it managed to stand out from the hilariously overcrowded IPA crowd to deliver an immensely satisfying gob full or three. I’ll miss it. Cheers!