I opened the first two Bell’s bottles on a nice night in the Tasting Room. I ordered myself the Chef’s Local Tasting which at that time was on the regular dinner menu. I enjoyed a delectable soup and salad combination which consisted of Jonagold Apples, Watermelon Radishes, toasted pecans, house made Sourdough Bread, and a Romanesco Cauliflower Soup, and to wash it all down, a delicious and refreshing Bell’s Amber. To follow was my dessert, a Bell’s Best Brown, and wonderful conversation with a dear friend.
If you read my last blog, I wasn’t all that thrilled at the time to drink my way through the six Bell’s beers on our list. I guess I was just more excited to try the ones from Breweries that I wasn’t all that familiar with, like Brewery Vivant, and Tri-City. Bell’s had slowly became a customary item to me. How quickly I forgot about the year I spent in Detroit pining for six pack of Oberon on what Kalamazoo-ins call “Oberon Day.” But what I love about writing this blog, and taking this ride on my beer adventure, is that I keep surprising myself. What I found was a greater respect and a greater knowledge of Bell’s beers and I am happy to say that I enjoyed all six that Webster’s Prime had to offer me.
The Amber I had enjoyed many times before, and I knew it was one of those easy to drink beers. It has a cloudy and golden-amber appearance. The Amber is extremely floral, with slight notes of hops and carbonation. But what I really like about the Amber is that it is a well balanced beer. It is one of Bell’s year-round brands that sits right in the middle between malt and hop intensity. This is an easy one to enjoy!
Bell’s Best Brown is a step up on that malt, hop intensity scale that I mentioned. It is a seasonal brand for Bell’s, that has more hop and malt intensity than the Amber does. It is dark brown in color and possesses a nutty/ malty aroma. This Ale was light and easy to drink with hints of cocoa and caramel. It is nice and balanced, do not let the color of this one steer you away, it is not a heavy beer by any means.
Now, I’ll admit I did not actually drink the next four brews in the Webster’s Prime Tasting Room. Sometimes a restaurant girl needs a little break from the hustle and bustle of the busy season. So I ran down to Drake Party Center and built myself a six pack, took the bottles home, and had a Bell’s experience on the couch. (Beers mentioned are on the Webster’s Prime beer list!!)
I started with the Bell’s Oarsman Ale, a year round beer for the brewery, and an astringent, refreshing brew that would be of great reward after a 5k or while sitting on the pontoon boat on a hot afternoon. It has an apple cider fruitiness, tart with hints of lemon and lemongrass. This is a traditional sour wheat ale, using traditional mash methods. It is cloudy and yellow in appearance, citrus on the nose, and sour to your taste buds. I am extremely sensitive to sour, it makes my upper lip sweat, so this beer was difficult for me, but it would be really nice for someone less sensitive to sour. Maybe I’m slightly allergic to lactic and citric acid? It is a session (clean finish, high drink-ability)/wheat beer with use of citrus hops and bright notes; you really get that sour on the sides of your tongue. With its light carbonation this would be a great chugging beer on a hot day.
Next I enjoyed the Winter White Ale, a great wheat/witbeir/Belgian style ale. This is a winter seasonal for Bell’s that is cloudy orange in color and has sweet wheat, citrus on the nose with slight malt coming across. It has that “bready” type quality that I love. With its full mouth feel it reminded me of a Belgian White Ale. It has lemon, orange, banana, and clove aroma and taste. Very easy to drink, and highly recommended for those looking for a lighter beer during the winter months.
Then I was on to the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, this is an Indian Pale Ale (American-Style) with American malts and hops and a nice crisp finish. It has a floral hop aroma, but a subtle hop flavor on the tongue. This one is not overly hoppy; it has the perfect light hop background with grapefruit forward. Very easy to drink, clean, slight dryness on the finish that leaves you wanting another sip. It also possesses a slight “booziness,” with grassy hops and a malt finish. VERY, VERY GOOD! Want to amp it up? Try a Hopslam next, if you like the Two-Hearted.
Lastly, I was ready for the grand finale, the Kalamazoo Stout. A wonderful American stout, brewed with brewers licorice. It is a full-bodied beer with flavors of roast and dark chocolate. It is very dark in color, almost black, with a roasted coffee and chocolate aroma and finish. Some mild hop presence and a roasted malty full body. Nice creamy mouth feel, some caramel notes, hints of molasses, and anise. Delicious!
All in all I have to say that Bell’s makes some great beers. They are easy to drink, they have vivid full aromas, and they are extremely well balanced. I’m looking forward to our upcoming workshop at Bell’s and their Chef’s Table at Zazios Restaurant in Kalamazoo. I have attended a Bell’s Chef Table dinner at Zazios once before, but I am so excited to attend another, a year later, during Kalamazoo Beer Week. Pumped to try their Kal-Haven Ale, and their Midwestern Pale Ale, in addition to their Hell Hath No Fury, and Black Note.
Speaking of Kalamazoo Beer Week, please join Webster’s for our “Meet the Brewers” events Monday, January 14th through Wednesday, January 16th, and Friday, January 18th. Monday we will have Founders, Tuesday Arbor, Wednesday Arcadia, and Friday Perrin Brewing Company (a newbie from Grand Rapids.) On Thursday, January 17th please join us for a New Holland After Party featuring musical artist, Megan Dooley! The party kicks off around 8:00pm; look forward to seeing you there!
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and please have a wonderful NYE!