The second leg of my Friday beer run once again took me to the Four Seasons Beer Store and my hopes were high. One night earlier this week, I was talking with a buddy at work who found the Top 100 Beers on BeerAdvocate. He noted that #37 was one that was readily available in our area. He had had it, loved it and urged me to try it as soon as possible.
The beer was Bell’s (“Bell’s doesn’t make a bad beer.”) Two Hearted Ale. It was classified as an American IPA and I remembered seeing it at the Four Seasons before. And there I was at the FS, scanning the craft shelf for Two Hearted Ale.
After a mere 15 seconds or so, I spotted it in the Bell’s section which was lower down. On a hunch, I strode over to their side cooler where they keep many craft beers nicely chilled. Bingo! Bell’s Two Hearted Ale had a niche right there in the cooler. I grabbed a cold one and checked for the bottled-on date. The only number that presented itself was “10025.” I’ll have to look that one up later.
I grabbed the sixer of Bell’s and proceeded to the register where Barry greeted me by name. I gave him a printout from last week’s review and we chit-chatted briefly about the old beer and the new one at hand. “This is an excellent beer.” “That’s what I heard,” I replied. Ten bucks lighter and with my loot in the requisite black plastic FS bag, I made my way back to my truck and tried to negotiate turning left out of the parking lot into lunch-hour traffic. I stashed the already cold sixer in the beer fridge with plans to write about it on Saturday night. I had plenty of time to look for info on this beer and that mysterious bottled-on date.
Saturday afternoon afforded me the time to do some digging into the beer which would be consumed in due time. Sure enough, BeerAdvocate ranks this beer as #37 on their Top 100 Beers list. Even RateBeer gives this beer 100 in overall ratings in the usual link(s) at the end of this tirade.
As a fluke, I Googled Bell’s bottled on date and the first choice was Bell’s FAQs. I blipped over there and discovered that they have a “Batch Finder.” I typed in the number and was presented with the fact that my beer was no more than three weeks old. That is so nice.
Beer time finally rolled around on Saturday and I had to take up residence in the Manly Garage with #2 son who was working on his son’s mini 4-wheeler. When I showed up, seats were exchanged, music was turned down and I set my mind to do two things at once: converse with the company and write about beer. It’s usually the case when this happens.
I grabbed the first THA and poured it into the RB recommended shaker glass. I gotta bunch of these.
The beer poured with a nice orange-amber color, reminiscent of last night’s choice. The carbonation consisted entirely of micro-bubbles in a medium population. The head came up nice and thick and creamy standing up at about a two finger’s width. The aroma initially had the fragrance of hops but quickly took on a very nice citrus scent. I hope the taste is equally as beguiling.
The first sip hit filling up my yap with the hop tastes that expected with quite a bit of malt body following close behind. A very slight hint of sweetness was detected at the front. I couldn’t wait for my taste buds to get going.
As my tongue got going, the tastes deepened. The hoppiness settled back, the malts stepped up and the sweetness became more subdued. The melding of the malt and the hops was quite incredible. No grapefruit taste here, but something very unique was happening to my tasters. Each sip became fuller and fuller until it all settled out in an array of wonderfulness and splendor. How odd that the bitterness of these hops mate so well with the chosen malts to create this great taste.
Every so often during sips, the hops would raise up while during other sips the malts would predominate. Even the foam head went through a metamorphosis where, immediately after the pour, the head had a yellowish tint at first and then, as it settled down, changed to an off white color. The beer was damn near magic.
By the third beer, my mouth was in heaven and the glass had a nice lacing, reminding me of the rings on a tree. I thought to myself what a stupe I was a few years ago to despise this IPA style of beer. Back then, in my naivete, I didn’t know what to look for in the taste. Now that I have a little more knowledge about beer and my tongue is slowly maturing (?) I’m really appreciating this style of highly hopped beer. How the hops and the malts play off each other to deliver a bittersweet taste is just short of divine. I figure that this beer is one of those recipes that well thought out and well tested.
This Two Hearted Ale is a quality beer. Great ingredients masterfully blended for a most unique drinking experience. The brewers have more than likely taken their time to mold and then tweak the recipe to make this most excellent beer. I urge you to try this beer whenever you can. It just may wind up on your list of go-to beers forever.
Taste: A+ > Unbelievably, mysteriously delicious.
Smoothness: A > Sweet nectar from a thorny fruit.
Drinkability: A- > Lucky Charms in a bottle. Magically delicious.
Bang for the buck: A > Worth every penny.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) Smells sweet. Smells kinda sweet. (sip) Wow there’s a tang. (sip) It starts out kinda bitter but then it gets… can’t put a finger on it. (sip) I’m getting a lot of citrus, a lot of grapefruity tang. It’s not bad. (Seems like she gets it, but just can’t put it into words.)
Inside Bell’s Brewery