If you read my recent Michigan report, you will know I went to Bells but was so stuffed, I could only handle one pint of Two Hearted. Disappointing but I bought a bottle of everything else I could get in the shop.
Long time readers will know that it was Bells Oberon that got me in to craft beer in the first place back in 2005. I still love Oberon and of course Two Hearted but these were the only Bells beers I have had up until this summer.
Kalamazoo stout is so called because that's where the brewery is originally from and the new one is only a few minutes drive down the road from Kalamazoo so is probably still part of the Kalamazoo metropolitan area. A suburb perhaps? At 6%, this is no dry Irish stout and it's not pretending to be.The aroma is one of vanilla ice cream, cherry and coffee. Interesting, all three might make a damn good ice cream flavour. The flavour is intense, that's the best word I can use to describe it. We start off with a lemon sherbet before quickly turning in to a strong espresso with some hot (cold) chocolate for good measure. Slightly more bitter than I was expecting considering the desert like aroma. It was lovely but I have one minor gripe and that is, and this is a common problem with American stouts, it's too damn fizzy. Stouts should not be as gassy as a lager. At least that's something that a little time and a slight shake/swirl can remedy.
Next up is their lager beer, so this one I was expecting to be gassy and it certainly looked it. It's crisp and refreshing as a good lager should be. It appears to be unfiltered but that could also be chill haze as I did not notice any yeast. As lagers go, it's full of flavour such as cereals, citrus and grassy hops. The beer is hopped with only saaz hops in a purely Bohemian style. As lagers go, it's lovely and very easy to drink.
Third coast beer is next. Firstly, I have no idea why western Michigan uses the term third coast and it's not even a very popular saying. My wife (from MI) has never mentioned it but come to think of it, I never asked her about it either, anyway enough digressing. The beer is a golden ale that's clearly unfiltered. It has a lager like crispness with some lovely citrus hops and a spicy finish. Not mind blowing but certainly I thought it was a lovely beer.
Staying with the third coast name is the old ale. This 10.2% monster put me in mind of Fullers vintage ale. On the nose was prunes and various other dark fruits before toffee and caramel came through. It tasted pretty much how it smelled. There was a strong warming booziness to it but not an alcohol burn. It was almost perfect, almost. Again like so many US beers, it's just too fizzy for the style.
On to the Porter now and this was probably my least favourite of all the Bells beers I've had. Too fizzy, too thin and while it did have a nice enough flavour, I just could not get past the thin and gassy body. It's not a bad beer, just not a very good one.
One last Bells beer, which I seem to have either forgotten to take a picture of, or somehow deleted it is Exhibition Stout. A monstrous 10.5% imperial stout that has a monstrously big taste. I imagine I could stand a spoon in the glass it was so thick and chewy. It tasted of wood and vanilla though it's not barrel aged to my knowledge. There is a slight alcohol burn but it's not overpowering and certainly does not strike me as 10.5%. A strong caramel driven malt body. Sweet at first, packed full of various dark fruits and cocoa but it then becomes very bitter, strikingly so. It's a beer of extremes and I loved it. Only slight gripe? It's too fizzy of course.
I drank a lot of the lovely Dale's Pale Ale while in the US this time but I also picked up another beer from Oscar Blues that I had not had before. Old Chub, it might have been named after me except for the Scotch part of course. I'm also not that old, I only just turned 33 last week. This is an 8% beer in a can that's so easy to drink, I was knocking them back like it was a Dale's, and that's 6.5% which I was knocking back like a 4% session ale or lager. Have to say, Oscar Blues make some very moreish beers and I have only had the two of them. A pity I never got to visit the brewery. Old Chub is full on caramel malt and almost tastes like it was oak aged. Other than that, I have no more notes as the beer never stayed long enough in my mouth to properly taste it. Dangerous stuff indeed.
I had Kona Longboard lager in Colorado, it was in the fridge and I was encouraged to try it. It was, well not terrible but not very good either. I picked up some of their Fire Rock pale ale to try though. It was not interesting in any way. It was a boring session pale ale but it was nice enough. I may be overly harsh because I had been drinking far more interesting beers that day so this one stood out because it did not in any way stand out if you take my meaning.
Crooked Tree IPA is a bit of a dark horse... ha like what I did there, because the brewery is called.... oh never mind. It's from Michigan and it's a well balanced IPA with a hint of lemon and green tea. Nice beer, very nice beer actually.
That's only some of the beers I had while over. Many of them I could not takes notes or pictures, I was on holiday after all and I could not be arsed being an anorak with every beer I tried.