Friday morning and nowhere to go but get the newspaper and, the penultimate highlight of the day, buy some beer for review. This day I was in no mood for the dark, gloominess of the Four Seasons, so I made my way to the beloved Morris Beer Store to see what new beers they had on the shelf.
Inside the MBS, it was empty. Today there was no bustle in the hedgerow. I laid the previous week’s printouts on the counter and made my way to the old familiar place. I had two things in mind: I wanted some sort of supplement to my regular house beer and also a review beer. A short scan across the top beer shelf had my eyes focused on a brand of beer from a brewery we’ve visited in the past. This brewery had a familiar ring to it and a story from a friend at work.
My buddy from work is an avid Disc Golf player. He goes out every day for a round of 18 holes. He’s been to tournaments in different states and has won, on occasions, enough money to pay for his trips and then some. At one of his tournaments, the sponsor was Bell’s Brewery out of Comstock, Michigan. The one thing my friend learned at the tournament was this: Bell’s does not make a bad beer.
With that in mind, I was standing in front of a sixpack of Bell’s Best Brown Ale. I’ve had Bell’s before, but not this beer. I decided to put that no bad beer myth to the test. I chose it for this week’s review. As the house beer supplement, I picked up a sampler pack of Magic Hat beers; 4 styles, 3 of each. At the counter, Gail’s cute, blonde daughter gladly took my $9.99 for the Bell’s sixer and money for the Magic Hat supplement. I was off to refrigerate.
Saturday was another day of work at the old warehouse. It would be a short day, maybe only 5 or 6 hours. I went in at 11 and was home by 5:30, but my greasy clothes needed some extra attention when wash day came around.
#1 son was in for a visit and the time flew by as we all talked and laughed for a long while. After a meal of delivered pizza, I begged off and retired to the Manly Garage for some concentrated beer drinking. I grabbed the first Bell’s and poured.
Trying something different, a flat pour. No tilting of the glass. The head came right up, about three fingers’ worth. The liquid was rather dark, the head was thick and creamy with a beige color and the carbonation was moderate with a mixture of all sized bubbles. The aroma had a nice, sweet, malty tinge to it and it made my mouth water. I smelled it again.
The taste was quite a surprise. It was a tad sweet in the front, quite malty and had a big dose of caramel and some dark, roasty flavors in the middle. This beer seemed at first to be a cross between an ale and a dark porter or a light stout. A scent of hops sprang forward in the nose at the beginning of the sip and then manifested at the end of the swallow.
The hoppiness had me a little disappointed at first. Why add the wang to an otherwise tasty beer? Although the hops didn’t choke me death, it got me to thinking about bitterness and my own personal tastes.
Normally, I’d say that good tasting beer has an average IBU (International Bitterness Unit) of about 20 or so. When a beer gets above 25 IBUs, It’s starts getting that hoppy, bitterness one tastes at the swallow. I’d say that this Bell’s Best Brown pushes about 30 IBUs or more, but I may be wrong on the numbers.
As the sips went on, the beers went down. The delicious sweetness and overall maltiness of the beverage was first and foremost in this drinking experience. The whack of the hops at the end was taken in stride and actually made it for a novel taste treat. Overall, this was a well-put-together beer. Hops be damned! This was another good tasting beer from Bell’s.
Bell’s Best Brown Ale is a beer you should drink with those friends who appreciate good tasting beer for beer’s sake. The diversity of this beer’s ingredients begs a discussion. Wine and cheese parties? Pfft! Have some Bell’s Best with a good Mexican dinner or Chinese food with friends. Chips and dip? Yeah.
If you’d like to spread out your taste buds a bit, by all means, pick up some Bell’s Best Brown Ale. Stick with it to the end. I assure you, you’ll love it. This is not a bad beer. At all.
This hop taste keeps repeating itself on my tastebuds in different forms for each of these reviews. And with each review, I learn more about the taste of beer and how it’s brewed. Each style, each brand of beer is another take on the four ingredients that make up beer. Water, malt, barley (grain) and hops. Each recipe is more of one, or less of another. I’m learning to appreciate the more hoppy beers and not let my stuck-on-the-sweet taste buds rule my choices when it comes to buying beer. I seem to be inadvertently inuring myself towards those hoppy IPAs that I’ve avoided for so long. These good tasting but bitter beers are pushing me over the edge.
Taste: B > Diverse. Nuts and bolts of all sizes in a bottle.
Smoothness: B- > Sweet, malt and and a slap at the end.
Drinkability: B > Hooked from the start.
Bang for the buck: C > Worth the experience of diversity.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sip) It’s heavy. Dry. (sip) It’s kinda heavy and kinda drying. (sip) I’m not getting any… (sip) Ugh, oh, yeah. It gets worse. (Beer, like marriage, has it’s heavy and drying times.)