Name: Bell’s Brewery
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Available in DC Market: Yes
What you need to know: With pioneering founder Larry Bell at the helm, Bell’s has pushed the limits of American craft brewing since opening its doors in 1985. They were the first Michigan brewery to serve beer by the glass and have helped put that state high on the “Why don’t I live there??” list. Even with 20+ beers in distribution and many more served at their Eccentric Cafe, you’d be hard-pressed to find a dud in the bunch. Two Hearted is one of the finest examples of the straight-ahead American IPA on market, and Hopslam provokes the kind of rampant fanaticism usually reserved for European soccer clubs. I’m partial to Kalamazoo Stout, which is perhaps the best vehicle for licorice ever invented.
Beer #1: The Wild One (Sour Brown / 6.6%)
Notes: A welcome reprieve from the hop monsters and malt bombs. For their American wild, Bell’s ferments and ages multiple base batches in separate wooden barrels; after the little creepy crawlies do their work, the batches are blended to taste, resulting in a tart, vinous, effervescent affair with vanilla and (surprise!) oak notes. Hoist a glass of this copper beauty midway through the night – it’ll scrub your taste buds clean and leave you ready and raring to go.
Beer Advocate: 89 (48 reviews)
Rate Beer: 98 overall, 83 style (119 ratings)
Beer #2: Smoked Vienna Lager (Vienna Lager / 5.9%)
Notes: Don’t go into this one expecting a rauchbier; with its judicious blend of German and smoked malts, the Smoked Vienna Lager is more ‘campfire-adjacent’. As with other Vienna lagers, you’ll encounter an appealingly golden-amber quaff, bready, biscuity malt character, and utmost drinkability, but with the slightest whisper of smoke. As you can imagine, it begs to be paired with food.
Beer Advocate: N/A (2 reviews)
Rate Beer: 56 overall, 31 style (18 ratings)
Summary: Last year, we were a bit underwhelmed with Bell’s SAVOR offerings (amber and cherry stout), especially given their skill, range, and pedigree. This year, we couldn’t be happier – we’re getting two super interesting styles that really show what Bell’s can do.
This profile is a part of the DCBEER.COM SAVOR Brewery Profile series. For more information, follow the link to see profiles of all 2012 SAVOR participants.
Beer Review Disclaimer: The beer reviews found on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer do not represent the opinions of this site. We provide these in the hope that they will serve as a resource showing what some craft beer fans have thought of the beers. These reviews can be a helpful guideline, but are not the be-all end-all about a beer’s strengths or weaknesses.