Tonight’s beer candidate was new shipment just in at Route 6 Liquors in Channahon. It was a beer from Bell’s out of Kalamazoo, Michigan called Hell Hath No Fury. It was a Belgian inspired dark ale according to the label and Belgians are my bailiwick in case you don’t know. I’ve always believed that Bell’s does not make a bad beer, and tonight we’ll see if that still holds water. I wondered if this Bell’s beer could come close to what Ommegang and Unibroue made.
Originally conceived along the lines of a Belgian Dubbel, Hell Hath No Fury … Ale morphed during development into something entirely different. Brewed with Belgian abbey-style yeast, Hell Hath No Fury … Ale is more akin to a roasty stout, offering warm, roasted notes of coffee & dark chocolate with fruity and clove-like aromas.
I tried to wrap my head around the possible taste of a roasted malt dubbel. I was confused. What did I have here? I didn’t know if I had stout with dark plum and red fruity overtones or a dubbel with subtle roasty flavors. I had the thought that this might be one of those cockamamie beer recipe bastardizations that just may take the craft beer community by storm, similar to those cloudy, juicy, chewy New England IPAs. But this beer may be at the other end of the spectrum.
I may be overthinking this a bit. Why not we just get down to business and find out right away.
The beer poured with a very dark brown color, similar to a light stout or porter. The foam rose up a mere quarter inch. Light would not pass through the liquid. The aroma was very slight, I couldn’t place what little I took in.
The first sip was quite a surprise. The beer tasted neither like a dubbel nor like a stout, but had characteristics of each. There was a good mouthfeel and once inside the mouth, many flavors came forth. Roasted malt, a little coffee, a bit of chocolate and perhaps some dark red fruit. It was a mish-mash of styles in one glass.
The typical flavors of a Belgian dubbel are overwhelmed by the roastiness and the mocha of the malts until they are forgotten. It was quite unexpected. I must say that the back label description is dead nuts on what I was tasting.
With notes of coffee and chocolate, Hell Hath is more akin to a roasty stout, but fermented with Belgian abbey style yeast. The dark ale gives you either sympathy for the devil or courage to face him.
There ya have it. A stouty wort fermented with Belgian yeast. A Frankenbeer. Or at least a redheaded stepchild beer.
Why would a brewer do this? Who knows. Breweries experiment all the time, and this particular beer made it to the marketplace. I think it’s White Labs that has a tasting room with maybe 28 beers, all with the same grain bill only each one fermented with a different yeast. The difference in tastes, they say, is amazing.
This Hell Hath beer may have been the answer to a bet, the result of a drunken celebration, an error during the brewing process or the answer to a small community of Belgian stout drinkers. Regardless, some consumers will feel disappointed, or even cheated on what they thought the beer that they bought would taste like. The Belgian dubbel fanatics like myself may feel left out.
The beer is a decent stout with plenty of body and smooth roastiness throughout. But to call it a Belgian inspired dark ale could be considered to be misleading.
Another aspect of this beer that may put you off of Bell’s beers for a while is the price. It’s probably 4 or 5 bucks more expensive than a beer of similar style.
While the beer tastes pretty damn good as a lightweight stout, I personally can’t recommend buying this beer due to the misleading nature of the label and the unusually high cost. But if you have money to burn, by all means go for it.
Bell’s still does not make a bad beer. Maybe just bad marketing decisions.
Style: Stout with Belgian overtones.
Taste: Nice, easy drinking roasted malt beverage.
Smoothness: Good, nary a bite.
Bang for the buck: Pfft!
Amount paid: $15.99 for a sixpack of 12-ounce bottles.
Get it again? Nope.
Brewer’s website (1900/1/1 works for age verif.)
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: That is really dark. (sniff) Smells like old coffee. (sip) Oh… I do not like that. It’s almost medicinal. Aftertaste… Ew.. water! (Hey, come back. Try drinking from the other side of the glass.)