This is purely a beer post, FYI.

Last time I wrote about an event at a local bar/restaurant featuring what is probably my favorite brewery – Bell’s Brewery in Michigan (http://www.bellsbeer.com/). I’ve not yet had a beer made by them that I didn’t like, which says a lot; I’m hard-pressed to think of another brewery for which this is true, mostly because every brewer makes a lager, and I really don’t like lagers that much. (Mild understatement, there.) Bell’s makes a regular lager too, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t say that I don’t like it. 🙂

On Wednesday Bell’s came to this bar/restaurant and put four of their special brews on tap, offering pints of some, snifters of others, and 6-ounce tasting flights of all four beers for people like me who couldn’t choose just one. Here’s what that looked like:

I think I’ve died and gone to beer heaven. (Thanks to Jill for taking this and sending it to me!)

Imagine these beers as compass points. In the West, we have – wait, what? A lager?! – yes, a lager: Q Falls Special Lager. According to the Bell’s website, “Quinannan Falls possesses the crisp, dry bitterness you’d expect from a German pilsner, but the use of highly aromatic hops from the Pacific Northwest in both the kettle & dry-hop evokes the fragrant pine forests that inspired this beer.”  (I LOVE beer tasting notes, by the way. So hilariously almost-pretentious.) I didn’t get any pine forest taste, but I have to confess: for a lager, this was pretty good. Like, almost good enough for me to order a pint of it. That’s high praise for a lager coming from me; what I don’t like about lagers is their aftertaste, usually, and this beer had none of the horse-pee (sorry Mom) overtones that I detect in most lagers. Right away, I knew we were off to a good start. (p.s. the ABV on this one was 6.5%. That’s damn good for a lager. Or is it 6.3% as I see on the paper? Either way, not bad.)

In the North, we have the Kalamazoo Hopsoulution Ale, which clocks in at 8.2% ABV. Again, from the website, it “falls roughly into the Double India Pale Ale category, incorporating several modern hop varietals from the Pacific Northwest with classic noble hops from Germany to present a blend of fruity, citrus, and resinous pine aromas. A mild caramel malt character and dry finish provide the counterpoint to these hop notes.” OK, sure. You could have told me that this had the blood of unicorns in it, and I’d have believed you: it was amazing. Like, better-than-Hopslam (…!) (!!) amazing. Beers that tell me they present fruity notes worry me since they can come off too strong, but that was not a factor here; I could taste the fruit, but it got taken over by the caramel that then got taken over by that dry finish. Oh my goodness was this ever drinkable. I ordered a pint for myself after I was done with the flight, and nursed the heck out of that glass. I feel heretical saying this, but I really think I liked this better than the Hopslam.

Over in the East we have The Oracle DIPA, which ran out of its tap in just over 90 minutes. It’s a 10%ABV double IPA, which, the website says, “places hop intensity first & foremost, making only the slightest concession to malt & balance. The fireworks start with the aromatic punch of dry-hop sessions with hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest. Resinous, citrusy hop flavors mixed with aggressive bitterness from a massive kettle addition deliver on that aromatic promise.” What that means is that this had a much more aggressive hop taste than the Hopsoulution; the hoppiness wasn’t bad by any means, but juuuust teetered on the edge of too strong for me. And I like hoppy beers. It was good, but not my favorite; I was surprised to read that this sold out but the Hopsoulution didn’t, which makes me think the Hopsoulution is really just underrated.

Down South we have the big daddy – the Hopslam, fulfiller of wishes and maker of happy times, which ran out of its tap in a little over an hour. This beer is released once a year, and it’s the kind of beer that causes people to leave work suddenly (you know, for “lunch” at 10am) and line up outside to get just one six-pack. This is a little absurd, but if you’ve had Hopslam you understand the demand; it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had, hands-down. The website says this: “Starting with six different hop varietals added to the brew kettle & culminating with a massive dry-hop addition of Simcoe hops, Bell’s Hopslam Ale possesses the most complex hopping schedule in the Bell’s repertoire. Selected specifically because of their aromatic qualities, these Pacific Northwest varieties contribute a pungent blend of grapefruit, stone fruit, and floral notes. A generous malt bill and a solid dollop of honey provide just enough body to keep the balance in check, resulting in a remarkably drinkable rendition of the Double India Pale Ale style.”  “Remarkably drinkable” is right – if you’re not careful, this stuff will get you schnookered right quick (it’s 10% ABV, which is essentially two beers in one bottle, which means a six-pack is more like a twelve-pack. See, I can still do basic math!). But I can’t see why you’d even want to drink it quickly; this is a beer for savoring and sharing, and is just fantastic. I’ve not yet gotten a six-pack of it because it sold out of pretty much everywhere here when it got shipped a couple of weeks ago, but I have two orders confirmed for the next shipment’s arrival later this month. Yes, this beer is that good. And yes, I confess to being a beer snob, but I do not apologize for it.

So that’s that for the Bell’s Bust-Out event, which I think should happen every year. (And my birthday’s coming up soon, if anyone wants to find some bottles of Hopsoulution and mail them to me. :))


2 Responses to Yum.

  1. bearrunner says:

    I would rather be running 6 miles and drinking some of those beers… I am a fan of Ales, I never use to be but lately I have been wanting them more and more… I like the dark ones the most. Sounds like a great night!!


  2. kmt4n says:

    It was a great night, but I am glad I only had to do 3 miles the next day; those beers were strong, and I crashed early after getting home and drinking a ton of water. I’ve yet to mix running with beer… don’t think I will, but I’ll definitely continue to enjoy the beer after the running. Cheers to you too!

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