Food, Beer, and Travel

a dump from the mind of Jon Piper

Posts Tagged ‘Bell’s Brewery’

Bell’s Expedition Stout – 2007 & 2008

Posted by jwpiper on June 29, 2009

It’s a warm summer night (but the coolest all week), and I’ve got a taste for something rich, sweet, and complex. I’ve been wanting to do a side-by-side of some cellared Expedition with a fresher batch. The batches selected are 8183 and 8864, which Bell’s has so responsibly provided a webpage to decode: they were bottled on September 25, 2007 and December 8, 2008, about 21 and 7 months ago, respectively. Poured at cellar temp.

2008 Expedition Stout

Appearance
5
Pitch black and thick – not Dark Lord thick, but very heavy and viscous. The head is a light mocha color and pours to several cm over a 6 oz pour. It sticks around leaving a haze on top of the black liquid beneath.
Smell
4
As expected, a deep roasted flavor with hints of coffee. More raw and boozy. Elements of grassy hops, when sniffed after it’s older brother.
Taste
4
The roasted malts are so strong – without much booze and definite warmth. The hop finish is still present and a bit grassy as in the aroma. This truly is a complex beer which still hasn’t 100% come together yet. This just seems so raw and disjoint when next to the 2007. A real detriment to this beer since it is usually so delicious in its own right. Makes me hesitate to every do a real, side-by-side RIS tasting.
Mouthfeel
4.5
Exemplary thick smoothness with just enough carbonation prickle to clean it up in the finish. Not chewy or heavy.
Drinkability
4
Come on – in truth this is a sipper. But a delicious one. It might be tough to get through two of these.
Overall
4.25
A fine beverage. I would’ve listed it as on of my top beers, but having its year older counterpart is making this one a bit harder to enjoy. It may have ruined me to fresh Expedition!
Price
$2.50/12oz.

2007 Expedition Stout

Appearance
4.5
A darker, mocha colored head. The pour produces less than 1 cm of head which pretty quickly disappears leaving just a ring around the glass and a few islands here and there.
Smell
4.5
Richer and maltier with caramel and chocolate and devoid of any hint of the fresh grass. Some dark fruit aromas appear as well.
Taste
4.5
Wow, so rich and dark. Chocolate and roasted goodness. Sweeter, but not overly sweet and with a well balanced bitterness on finish. Some warmth with no booze. This has become a very special beer. The finish seems to last forever.
Mouthfeel
5
It has gotten thicker, smoother, and is just a bit creamy.
Drinkability
4.5
I could drink a couple of these with no real problem. Extremely tasty and complex – it entices me to keep sipping.
Overall
4.55
This beer, I think, still has a little while before it peaks. Its storage has been non-ideal (in a kitchen cabinet where temperatures vary quite a bit over the course of the year). I think I’ll be cellaring pretty much every bottle of this I buy for at least a year.
Price
$2.50/12oz.
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Hopslam

Posted by jwpiper on January 26, 2009

Bell’s Hopslam is one of the best big IPA’s offered by a brewer east of the Mississippi. I remember it as a rare treat last year, and while I’m pained by the price increase, I’ve got to pick up at least a sixer this year. Poured into a snifter at about 50 degrees. Since my last experience with this beer, I’ve had Pliny the Elder and Dreadnaught IPA. It’ll be interesting to see how this stacks up.
Appearance
4
Golden with orange tinge. 3cm off-white head.
Smell
4.5
Lots of citrus on the nose and some pine. Not as much floral notes as many west coasters, but very nice. Well, perhaps it is floral… But not in the same way. Light, bright, citrus fruits. Sweet grass.
Taste
4.5
Coats the palate nicely. Some malt backbone and a bit of a grainy taste, but the citrus hops dominate with a little bitterness at the end. Much less than expected. There is sweetness, even beyond what’s suggested from the malts. Not a super clean flavor as with Pliny the Elder, but still very nice.
Mouthfeel
4
A bit sticky. Medium-bodied. Well-carbonated with medium-sized bubbles.
Drinkability
4.5
This is rather drinkable. Very inviting hop profile, but the lack of a clean palate limits its refreshing qualities. The sweetness and lack of a bitter bite make it even more drinkable.
Overall
4.35
An impressive brew. I think I like it more than the Dreadnaught IPA from Three Floyds, but there is likely to be a side-by-side (maybe with Buckeye ’76) in the future. Plenty of interesting hop character, but I think the slight over-reliance on sweetness detracts from the beer – makes it a bit too accessible at the expense of excellence. Nonetheless, it is a great beer.
Price
$18/6pk ($3/12oz). A very good value for such a good hoppy beer. The price is made a bit painful by the fact that it was $2-3 less last year and that for the same price per ounce, you could have a Pliny the Elder if you lived in California. Alas I do not… but I’ll be there soon enough to curtail purchasing too many more of these.

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