Don’t expect us to post several tasting reviews a week, but we’re back because today, August 2, 2012, is IPA day. We can’t celebrate it without reviewing an IPA, so today we’ll tell you about Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ale. In our last post June told you she’s a native Nashvillian. I’m not. I love Nashville and have been here almost 20 years, but I’m a Michigander. I grew up in the western part of the state, near the shores of Lake Michigan. So it’s no surprise I feel an affinity to the fine beers coming out of Bell’s.
Bell’s Brewery was started by Larry Bell originally as a homebrew store in 1983 in Kalamazoo, MI. It produced its first beers in 1985. They currently sell beer in 18 states, DC and Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, Tennessee isn’t one of those states. Fortunately, we live 38 miles from the Kentucky state line. I road trip to Bowling Green regularly to stock up on my favorite Michigan beers from Bell’s, Founders and New Holland.
Bell’s own description of Two Hearted
“Bell’s Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell’s house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale .”
- Aroma: This beer is hopped exclusively with Centennial hops and it’s obvious in the aroma. The wonderful fragrances jump out and hit you in the face. We pick up a lot of floral and citrus as expected from the hops, and a slight hint of pine also.
- Appearance: Rich golden color, appropriate to the style. Pours an off-white head and has good head retention.
- Flavor: You get all the flavor you smelled in the aroma, but no bitterness you might have expected from an IPA. A slight sweetness comes through, probably from the yeast.
- Mouthfeel: Has a medium body and a medium carbonation. A crisp, clean finishing beer.
- Overall: At 7% ABV (alcohol by volume) no would would mistake this as a session beer. However, it’s unmistakably a top-notch American IPA.
You know a beer is one of your favorites when you can remember the very first time you ever tried it. I first tasted Bell’s Two Hearted Ale when we were in Michigan last summer for Kendall’s high school reunion. I’m not sure how I ended up with an IPA because up until this point, I’d never tried one that I liked. I know I sound a bit like a broken record when I say “I didn’t think I’d like it then I tried it and I did!”, but that’s happened many times. It’s not always the case. Sometimes I try something thinking that I won’t like it, and I’m right, I don’t. And more than once I’ve tried something thinking I WILL like it, but I don’t. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale surprised me because I have tried IPAs but always found them too hoppy and bitter. Not this one! The hops are intense but not bitter, and it’s got a bit of fruitiness. I’ve found that hoppy beers can be a bit of an acquired taste and I like them much more now than I did in the past, but this one is a great start if you’ve never tried an IPA.
I’m trying not to be biased, but this is my favorite IPA. It’s hoppy but not bitter. Bell’s uses a process called “dry hopping” where hops are placed in the fermenting tanks. This process pull the flavors and aromas from the hop without the bitterness you get when you boil them. This is a delicious beer. My stocks are depleted, luckily I’m heading to Ohio soon so I’ll restock. If you’re a person who thinks you’ll never like IPAs, give Two Hearted a try. This is one IPA that just might change your mind.
(Tasting was done at home, poured from a bottle into a Spiegelau lager glass. The Two Heated was purchased in a Bowling Green, KY at Wino’s Depot.)