Here is my review of another beer from the Bell’s planet series, this is one Jupiter (The Bringer of Jollity), a brown ale. I did drink and write my notes for this beer when it was fresh, I am just behind on my reviews, just wanted to make it clear I wasn’t reviewing a shelf turd. Jupiter is a big imperial brown ale which like the rest of the planet series is inspired by Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite “The Planets”. Jupiter comes in at 8% ABV.
Nose: Chocolate, malt sweetness, brown sugar, a little coffee and espresso. Primarily dominated by chocolate in the nose and you can definitely sense some heat from the alcohol in the nose.
Appearance: Very dark brown, almost black with a 1 finger head that dissipates quickly. Some lacing as you drink, nothing crazy. The labels of these beers look really nice when they are all lined up.
Taste/Mouth: Mellow brown ale flavors. Chocolate comes over from the nose, mostly milk chocolate flavors. Again some espresso and coffee notes popping up with some malt sweetness and caramel/toffee flavors in there as well. Very mild hop bitterness and really no alcohol present in the flavor of this beer surprisingly at 8%. On the back end you get some nutty and brown sugar flavors as well.
Price/Availability: Around $3 for a 12oz bottle and is a one off brew part of the planet series.
Overall: A very solid beer. Not mind blowing and certainly not a style I often seek out but usually enjoy when I drink. The best beer in the series I had up until this point for sure as the others I had were drain pours. I would drink this again if given the opportunity but would probably not seek it out.
Doing my best to grab all the Planet series beers from Bells. This is the third beer in the series I believe. Mercury the Winged Messenger comes in at 4.8% and doesn’t list its IBU.
Appearance: Small head, little to no lacing and a lot of floating debris in the beer. Straw yellow pale in color.
Nose: Yeasty, fruity, some banana and clove notes. White grape, spicy farmhouse notes as well. Smells a lot like a Czech Pils to me.
Taste/Mouth: Tastes like a bad Hefe honestly. Earthy and musty yeast flavors, spicy phenols, grape and kind of skunky like a Czech beer. Really weird and definitely not what I expected from this beer. Don’t like the finish either, leaves a very strange flavor in your mouth.
Price/Availability: One time only for the planet series and around $2.50 for a single 12oz bottle.
Overall: Another letdown from this series. This was more drinkable than Venus but that is not saying much as that beer was just an instant drain pour. This is a pretty big miss from Bells and another miss in a series I had high expectations for. I only drank about half of it before I poured this one as well.
I unfortunately missed the first installment of this series which was Mars (The Bringer of War), a Double IPA. I did manage to snag this at the Binnys downtown about two months ago at this point since as usual I am behind on turning my notes into reviews. Bell’s is currently in the process of releasing a series of beers that’s paying homage to the Planet series by Gustav Holst. Venus is a Blonde Ale brewed with honey, apricot, cardamom and vanilla. Venus comes in at 7.5% ABV and doesn’t list an IBU.
Appearance: Slightly hazy with lots of floating particles from the various additions in this beer, most likely from the apricots. 1/2 finger head deep gold/light copper color.
Nose: Lot of apricot right up front with some lemon and citrus fruits as well. Smells a little sour but really mostly just apricot juice. You get the Cardamom in the nose as well and just a little bit of vanilla and malt. Not really all that pleasant to smell.
Taste/Mouth: It’s pretty bitter and sour tasting, not like a bitter IPA or sour like a Flemish beer instead its very off. Really dominating taste of apricot juice hard to pull out very many other flavors it is so overwhelming. Not really very enjoyable at all. Medium carbonation and medium mouthfeel with a very weird and un-enjoyable finish. I suppose some of the honey and vanilla are noticeable at points during the tasting, especially more when it began to warm up a bit. Regardless the combination of flavors is not good.
Price/Availability: Around $3 for the 12oz bottle and it is for one time only during Bell’s Planet Series.
Overall: Pretty hard to drink this beer, as a matter of fact I drain poured the majority of it. I like the idea of the series and despite this one being a major miss I will purchase other Planets as they become available. I guess since Venus looks like an apricot they felt they should dump apricot juice into the beer dedicated to it, not sure why vanilla, honey and cardamom were decidedly brought into this mess though. Sorry guys, love plenty of your other offerings but this one was a big time miss.
Getting toward the end of the Beer Camp Across America pack now, after this only three more to go. In this review I have Maillard’s Odyssey the Sierra collab with Bells Brewery from Michigan, an imperial dark ale. Bell’s is a brewery certainly known for their dark beers such as their porter, Kalamazoo stout, Java stout and Expedition stout to name a few. I was excited to try this one since I enjoy all of the beers aforementioned and I had heard mostly good things about this beer as opposed to some of the others in the pack. Maillard’s Odyssey comes in at 8.5% ABV and 40 IBUs.
Appearance: Pitch black beer with no light piercing through. About a 1/2 – 1 finger brown head. Really amazing lacing on this beer as well. Loved everything about the appearance of this one.
Nose: Huge amounts of coffee. Chocolate, toffee, caramel and lots of roasted malt as well. Pretty much nailed the aromas for this one on the label descriptions. Really enjoyable beer to take in, spent a lot of time enjoying the nose of this beer.
Taste/Mouth: Really nice coffee and roasty flavors and some nice chocolate flavors as well. You get a little caramel. Most flavors carrying over from the nose of this beer. Nice thick body lending to a full mouthfeel which finishes with a nice roasty dry burnt molasses flavor. Really interesting and complex beer with lots of layers to it. Warmed up well.
Price/Availability: One time only, unfortunately.
Overall: Bell’s nails their collab with Sierra by producing without a doubt one of the best beers in the pack, probably in my top 3. Very complex and rich beer would love to have it again.
Finally getting around to posting my review of Bell’s classic American IPA Two Hearted Ale. This is a beer I frequently purchase because in NY I pretty much know it is always gonna be fresh because of how popular and sought after it is. Bell’s has also recently began canning this beer (this and Oberon are the first two) as part of their new canning initiative. I think it is important to note this beer is exclusively hopped with only centennial hops. This is certainly regarded as one of the classic examples of the American IPA style. Two Hearted comes in at 7% with no IBU listed.
Appearance: Slightly hazy deep gold to light copper color. 1 finger head with really great sticky lacing. Love the new can design, nice updated logo as the bottle logo is a bit dated and kind of ugly so the visual upgrade is well deserved.
Nose: You get the nose the second you crack the can. Really dank resin and pine nose. You get some fruity notes, some grapefruit and other citrus fruits. Great showcase of the centennial hop in the nose of this beer, very enjoyable.
Taste/Mouth: First thing you notice is the incredible balance of this beer. Piney resin hop flavors carry over from nose with good bitterness. Crisp, clean and refreshing; such a drinkable beer. Slightly dry finish with some citrus coming at the finish as well. Need to note how balanced this beer is one more time.
Availability/Price: Good distribution in NY now. Price is reasonable the 4 pack of cans costed me around $10. At least this beer isn’t price gouged like Hop Slam…
Overall: This one lives up to its reputation as one of the best American IPAs and definitely a classic of the style. It is definitely a beer you could always count on when you want a great drinkable IPA that you can easily have a few and not worry about getting sick of it. That being said since this beer is now maybe one of the older examples of the style some new breweries have certainly taken the American IPA to the next level.
Bell’s Oberon Ale is the Michigan breweries summer seasonal offering. It is a fruity, spicy wheat ale and is definitely meant to help you cool off on those hot summer days (hence the bottle artwork). I had it from a 12oz bottle but it is now being offered in 16oz cans by Bells as well as their classic IPA Two Hearted, which is really awesome.
Appearance: Slightly hazy but a really bright golden color. Decent 1 finger head, lacing wasn’t crazy. Typical wheat ale look.
Nose: Pick up some good spicy hoppiness up front with orange/lemon peel citrus aromas. Pick up the wheat and malt in the back too.
Taste: Really light and crisp, high carbonation on this one helps give it that nice crisp bite on your tongue. Has a good mouthfeel all around really. Tastewise you get that citrus from the nose carried over into the taste especially getting some orange flavors. The wheat also shines in the taste being able to get some banana flavors.
Availability/Price: This is a seasonal release so obviously available throughout Spring/Summer. That being said in that time-frame it is definitely very readily available in states that see Bell”s distribution. Price was pretty on point for what I think I would and most other people would want to be paying for a summer wheat beer, 8-9$ for a 6-pack.
Overall: It is what you expect from the style. That being said it is definitely one of the better executed examples of the style. Most summer seasonals are a big time pass for me but I would drink this if it was offered to me or on draft somewhere and I was sitting outside in the summer. I enjoy Bell’s Spring seasonal offering as well the Smitten Rye Ale. I would definitely say Oberon is worth a go and would definitely be enjoyed by casual drinkers and beer snobs a like.