Wednesday, March 9, 2011

461. Bell’s Lager Beer

Bell’s is back. Again. That Bell’s just keeps coming round and around. After all, as the saying goes, when you ring it, school is certainly in session. And with sixteen different Bell’s beers under our belts, knowledge has been dropped. Our curriculum includes Batch 10000, 25th Anniversary Ale, The Oracle, Oarsman, Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury Ale, Batch 9000, Hopslam, Cherry Stout, Sparkling Ale, Winter White, Christmas Ale, Third Coast, Oberon, Octoberfest, and Two Hearted. I’d offer to stick around and help clean the mash tun, but that would just make me sound like a suck-up, and I can’t keep my rep by being no suck-up, can I?

Pouring a clear golden straw, Bell’s Lager has a white head than puts in a brief appearance before disappearing to a scant ring. It does, however, have the courtesy to at least leave some marginal lacing on the glass—consider it the beer foam equivalent of the “Hey, I ain’t here, but don’t you forget about me, you hear?” comment you tangentially get from that one annoying relative who never really fully goes away like you secretly hope they will. The nose is sweet malt and graininess with just a touch of corn, along with a light Noble hop bitterness that somehow always strikes me as a slight soapiness. Now, while I understand that a sweet corn soapiness might sound somewhat unappealing—after all, I doubt the idea for a sweet corn handsoap is currently being rushed into production—the nose is actually rather pleasant and, might I add, lager-like. Flavors start sweet and lightly bready, but also crisp. The middle dries out and the bitterness comes to the front, while the finish is clean and crisp with a lingering hop bitterness; while the bitterness is a bit high for traditional lager levels, it does work with the clean finish to close and round the beer effectively. As I proceeded through the beer, there was an ever so slight taste of lingering licorice on the palate as well. A bit of graininess emerges in the middle to accompany the bitterness, and there is also a slight return of the sweetness in the finish. The body does have a bit of substance to it, although the carbonation, along with the bitterness, lightens and cleans the finish. Bell’s Lager falls on the sweeter side of the lager spectrum, although the hop bitterness does give it the dry crispness found in drier, cleaner lagers. Overall, this beer is a solid winner. Both Elli and I have been enjoying the lagers of late—I think I feel a lager kick coming on. Stranger things have happened.

From the bottle: “As refreshing as a morning swim in a Great Lake, this brew is crafted with Pils and Munich malts. The pronounced hop character of this golden lager sparks thoughts of sandy beaches and rocky islands.”

From the Bell’s website: “Nicely balanced, Bell’s Lager Beer focuses on the flavors developed in the brew house, matching a crisp bitterness & distinctive herbal hop aromas to a simple yet firm backbone built from Pils & Munich malts. Following in the tradition of Bohemian-style pilsners, this beer spends a full six weeks maturing in the fermentation vessels. This extended conditioning period refines the overall flavor, highlighting the contributions of the malts & hops.”

ABV: 5.0%
OG: 1.050
Batch Number: 10006


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