Bell's Two Hearted Ale
So this is one of my favorite beers of all time. It has a lot of nostalgia attached to it. That is why this is a special review. I will have the review below and then a hangout review I recorded with my friend Randy. Following the video is a little story I wanted to write down here, it is about the first time I had this beer, and actually about my first IPA ever. I hope you will read it and understand a little more about why this beer is so special to me. This is also review number 350, so I want to thank all the regular readers, and my friends for supporting my beer obsession.
This pours a murky orange color, beautifully unfiltered and really the perfect looking IPA. Nice big fluffy white head that just blasts amazing hop smell into the air like a smoke signal of awesome. The smell is beyond amazing. My brother lives in Kalamazoo, so he bought my case of Two Hearted Ale at Bell's, so this beer was literally brewery fresh. The smell is like opening a fresh bag of hops. Let me digress a little on the hops. This is not a west coast IPA. There is no grapefruit or exotic flavors here. This is a more traditional and East coast, or American type IPA. Citrus and earthy pine coalesce into an intoxicating and inviting hop welcome mat. When you crack a bottle of this and pour, you can quite literally smell it across the room. This is a nicely balanced beer, in fact I would dare say it is perfectly balanced. A lot of citrus and piney hops, super bitter, but just before it gets too bitter the nice caramel sweet malt kicks in to even it all out. The body is medium with a nice amount of carb and it finishes so smooth. This is a beer you just want to keep drinking. Kind of dangerous when it clocks in at 7%! So this is a milestone for the Rock on Beer Blog, the first ever perfect 10. I chose this beer because it is my favorite IPA of all time, and also because it is an amazing IPA that totally deserves this rating. If you can somehow find this beer, you will not regret it.
This is a very special beer for me. I can actually say with confidence that this was the very first IPA I ever tasted. A friend and I were visiting the town we both grew up in (Port Huron, MI) for the biggest event of the year. Boat night brings in sail boats from all over the world to compete in the Port Huron to Mackinaw sail race. The night before the race there is a huge party that takes over the entire downtown. Everyone drinks everything in sight and it is basically the biggest party of the year.
So my friend Grahm and I had not been to a boat night since we were old enough to drink, so we thought what better time to visit our old hometown. We drank quite a bit before walking downtown, because why not get drunk before going to get drunk? We knew a bartender at a local bar, so we stopped in to say hi. She said she would sell us Craft Beer for the price of regular domestics. Now at that time I had no idea what a craft beer was. Young, still in school, and barely a year or two of legal drinking, I like many young Americans thought premium beer was that one with the crown on it.
We both ended up picked a Bell's Two Hearted Ale, as we had both vaguely heard of Bell's Brewery. I would like to be able to end this story by saying I took my first sip and the sky opened up, I got tears in my eyes, and I fell in love with craft beer instantly. That story is for another day. What actually happened was I took my first drink, and very nearly just spit it all over the packed bar. I hated it.
I remember thinking this must have gone bad, why is it so bitter and piney!?!? This was reinforced by the fact it was cloudy and full of hop and yeast debris. Grahm and I looked at each other and agreed, this must have been a bad batch right? I am pretty positive I did not even finish the last of my first IPA. Luckily a few years later and a little more well versed in different beers, I had that epiphany with beer that has led to me creating this site to worship it in all it's forms. While I love Bell's Two Hearted now, I will always remember that night when I tried that gross beer full of chunks and couldn't imagine why anyone would ever drink another.