Okay, make that Christmas Week Bell’s, since I reviewed Bell’s Christmas Ale in the previous post. However there’s a lot of goodness for the holidays, and for all year.
From Comstock, MI, this IPA is their #1 seller. It’s pale amber in the glass with a medium bright off white head. A pretty citrus hop aroma comes with flowers. The mouthfeel is soft and slightly foamy. The flavor delivers great balanced fruit notes with cracker and crystal malt and restrained bitterness. Caramel offsets the nice hop bite. The hops hold the finish for a long time. Most satisfactory! 7% ABV
Guess what? It’s amber. This comes with a brief off white head and a mild nose. On the palate you get a rich malt flavor of bread and caramel with just enough hops. Beautifully balanced with nice effervescence and medium mouth feel. The finish continues the balance of hops and malt. 5.8% ABV
A dubbel style, this pours opaque dark brown with a brief tan/sand head. Very light nose with hints of chocolate and malt and a breath of spice. Flavor is smoky grain and malt…not really a whole lot of flavor. Let me let this warm up a bit. 7.7% ABV
This is a wheat beer, hazy pale gold in the glass with a medium white head. The nose is yeasty and hoppy before estery. The flavor has mild stone fruit and a great restrained hop bite. The finish is lingering malt, stone fruit and hops. 5.8% ABV
Pours golden with a moderate lemon chiffon head. The grapefruit nose comes with a touch of yeasty apricot esters over a crisp dry malt. The flavor delivers big citrus hops and grainy malt flavors with tart grapefruit, carrying right through the long finish as more malt emerges. Hops and malt play with each other for quite a while. This is rich sipping ale, but you had better like grapefruit, and you had better like hops…as I do. 10% ABV.
Lager (of the Lakes)
Straw-colored with a generous white head, the nose features classic cracker malt and noble hops. It’s a great pure dry lager with solid malt flavor. The finish has a nice hop bite. 5.0% ABV
Pours chestnut brown with a medium persistent tan head. Leads with a rich warm-bread malty nose with subtle underlying hops. The flavor is as welcoming as a good pub, toasty, roasty and caramel-y malts which linger in a straightforward finish, nothing fancy, just really good brown ale. 5.8% ABV
Mango Habanero Oberon Ale
Creamy apricot in the glass with a brief white head and a gentle mango and malt aroma. The flavor starts with mango malt immediately overtaken by hot pepper. The finish carries that hot spice for a long time. This is a pepper ale more than an ale with pepper, but restrained, not a Ghost Face Killah. I can drink a pint of this, but not two. 6.0% ABV
Imperial Stout pouring inky black with a deep brown head. The aroma is of malt and roast grain and more malt with something almost meaty about it. This would certainly go well with roasted or grilled meat. There is a liqueur note as well. Silky mouthfeel of molasses and dark malts with a roastiness that only grows stronger on the finish. According to the label “Brewed to celebrate 30 years of inspired brewing, this big, bold stout honors all that has gotten us to this point–hard work, authenticity and our commitment to quality. Whether you choose to celebrate now or later, here’s to the next 30 years.” Clearly they suggest that aging is an option, and these rich flavors at 11.0% ABV would certainly age well, but I’m a greedy bastard with no cellar space, so I choose now. Excellent!