A brand new beer from Bell’s. A wheatwine, no less, you don’t see that every day. I’m tired from work and class tonight and just watching a bit of classic Breaking Bad, so I can’t be bothered to set up the camera. Let’s do an old-school text review.
Pours hazy yellow/orange, billowy white head. A bit like a hefeweizen, but at 8% it’s a bit big for a hefe. Then again, it’s a bit small for a wheatwine/barleywine.
Aroma pulls even closer to a hefe. Quite estery, hints of banana. Maybe some bubblegum. Flavor follows the nose, tons of ester and a nice dose of alcohol, though no booze. Sweet.
Overall I’d definitely call this something like an Imperial Hefeweizen rather than a wheatwine, although that’s just pendantic semantics. The back label mentions “the Wheat series,” implying that this is the first of many beers like this. It’s not phenomenal, but it’s decent. I’d drink it again, maybe on tap. Pretty standard special-ish releease for Bell’s these days.
I’m about a week late on this episode, and I apologize. I started back to complete my undergraduate degree last week, and that’s definitely affected the amount of time I have to natter on about beer on the internet. This podcast is a priority for me, but doing well in the classes I’m paying a small fortune for is a higher priority, so the schedule may suffer a bit going forward until I can get things back in order.
Anyway, we’ve decided to switch up the format a little bit. Previously we’ve done what we’ve been drinking first, and sometimes it felt like we had to squeeze a bunch of topics in at the end of the episode. So we’ve decided to try putting the more informal chat into a separate podcast so that those people who want to hear that stuff can still hear it, but those looking for the news and commentary can get it without having to wade through the rest.
For this episode, it’ll be two separate files, but we may end up adjusting that as time goes on. You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments, questions, and suggestions.
Check us out on iTunes!
0:00 to 1:42 Introductions and general comments. We’ve changed up our format a bit here so fans of the show should definitely listen to this bit.
1:42 to 8:45What we’re drinking right now. Ryan’s drinking the Firestone Walker Wookie Jack Black IPA, and I’m doing a Bell’s Consecrator Dopplebock. Ryan also makes passing mention of the Lost Abbey Track #5 release, and I talk about Bell’s lagers in general.
8:45 to 18:17 Revisiting prior topics covered on the podcast. First, responding to our friend Jamison’s (http://www.youtube.com/Tantrum777) criticism of the way we handled terroir.
18:17 to 29:00 Session Beer! Firestone Walker believes that session beer should be local beer, and we agree. I also take back some stuff I’ve said about session beer in the past and discuss some comments from other beer writers on the concept.
29:00 to 32:17 Michigan Brewing Company has had its brewery locked by their landlord — apparently they weren’t paying their rent on time. Is Celis White a cursed beer recipe?
32:17 to 36:43 Bell’s possibly being sold? What’s up with Larry Bell wanting to get rid of the brewery? I think it’s really just a restructuring, although Budweiser’s been wanting to buy the brewery for a number of years now.
36:43 to 40:20 Grand Rapids ties in the Beer City USA poll with Asheville, NC. Does this mean anything?
40:20 to Sam Tierny, brewer at Firestone Walker, wrote a piece about beer competitions. Do these kinds of beer competitions mean anything? How about homebrew competitions? What’s the value of awarding medals to beers?
No time codes here, but we talk about Imperial Pilsners and Imperial Witbiers, how many hops really go into Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA, twelve ounce versus twenty-two ounce bottles, and Ryan makes an impassioned plea for more people to do bottle shares. And more, of course — it’s a fun time.
I’ve had Bell’s Expedition quite a bit, but I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to try a bottle this fresh. Last year I did a vertical tasting between a 2010 and a 2008 bottle, and the fresh bottle was significantly hoppier. How is the fresh bottle?
Pours rich black, velvety, with a thin brown head that dissipates quickly. Lots of booze in the aroma, more than expected. Otherwise sweet, dark fruits, some plums and raisins, with a nice velvet roasty character. Hints of earthy hops but muted. Tastes smooth, clean, with only the slightest hint of a burn on the back end. Fruit notes that are present on the nose are not so much on the flavor, with a rich roasty dryness and, yes, a significant hop bite on the finish. The booziness starts to fade as you get deeper into the beer — you’d hardly believe this was 10.5%.
This year’s batch of Expedition was somewhat delayed due to problems getting the ABV in line with the label. I was worried that this would mean the finished product would be uneven or underattentuated, but this is pretty much exactly as I remember it. The alcohol could be a bit more hidden, but otherwise I’m a big fan of Expedition and will be drinking quite a bit of it this year.
Beyond the Pour grade: A-
I got off work early today, so I figured, what the hell — let’s do a quick beer review!
It’s Oktoberfest season, not necessarily my favorite time of year beer-wise but it’s nice to have a season devoted to brown malty lagers. I don’t like doing video reviews of these because so many of them are very similar, lots of malt with a bit of yeastiness and maybe some earthy hops with a clean malt finish. But text reviews are quick and easy and I figure I might as well do a few of them this year as I get around to them.
Pours a bit lighter than expected, whether that’s my memory playing tricks with me or if the beer is really a bit lighter than last year I can’t say. Kind of a pale brown/orange or dark roasty yellow color. A twinge lighter than copper. Head is minimal and dissipates immediately. Smells grainy, sweet, slightly cardboardy. Somewhat “off,” in that nondescript way. Maybe a hint of chocolate and some earthiness.
Aroma’s a bit off, but flavor’s pretty solid. No graininess present, instead with some sweet caramel and fruity notes, a bit like a dopplebock. Somewhat creamy on the mouthfeel with a carbonation bite on the finish. Leaves a hint of breadiness on the aftertaste. Very smooth. I’ve got to say I was expecting this to be a disappointment based on aroma but it really made up for it in flavor. Not my favorite Oktoberfest/Marzen to be sure, but pretty solid, especially from an American micro.
Beyond the Pour grade: B
I’m in the midst of a bunch of review projects and besides that I’ve already done a video review of Bell’s Oracle (an aged and a fresh bottle vertical, no less!) but when the newest batch came out I figured it was worth doing a quick text review.
Pours dark orange, very transparent, with a fair amount of carbonation coming from the bottom of the glass and a thick white head. Head dissipates fairly quickly, but leaves significant lacing. Aroma is mostly pine, very verdant almost like a Christmas tree (which gives me a homebrew idea: a big piney black IPA with Christmas spices marketed as a winter warmer). Some hints of grapefruit and pineapple but buried deep. Hints of sweet malt.
Taste is much more heavy on the grapefruit, with a nice bitter abrasive finish and a very dry aftertaste. Tons of bittering hops in this one, but with a nice flavor addition towards the end. The alcohol is ridiculously well hidden. As the beer warms the grapefruit sweetness becomes more prominent, almost sticky.
I’ve long been of the opinion that this is better than Hopslam, and getting a super-fresh bottle just makes me more certain of it. I’m absolutely looking forward to drinking the other five bottles very soon.