Nick Carr on November 9, 2015 2 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Bell’s Brewing, Inc. Location: Kalamazoo, MI Style: British Brown Ale ABV: 5.8% IBU: 35 Appearance: Rich orange-brown with off-white head Aroma: Rich aroma of toasted malt and sweet caramel; Notes of chocolate, roastiness and dark fruit Flavor: Complex dark & caramel malts; Sweet malts gently transitions to herbal qualities of hops; Malty richness never recedes; Nutty qualities linger at the finish and aftertaste. Suggested Glass: Pint Glass, Mug or Nonic Pint Serving Temp: 50-57°F Approximate Shelf-Life: 6 months Availability: Fall Seasonal Pairs With: A handful of nuts, Steak, Aged Gouda cheese, pecan pie Well, we’re in the thick of fall now. The weather’s even started that slow turn toward winter. So, still honoring the season, I thought I’d try to review one or two beers off the “Drinking Autumn” list. We don’t get any of Bell’s beer here in New Mexico. They distribute to Arizona and some of California, but not New Mexico. Too bad for us right. It does irk me that Puerto Rico can get Bell’s Beer but I can’t. Just a little though. Well I was putting together an online beer order a while back -not the best way to buy beer, believe me I know- but once in a while I’ll do it just to have the chance to try some things not normally available. Anyway, I was putting my order together and noticed Bell’s beer could be had, so I thought I’d give a couple a shake. Bell’s Brewing got its start when Larry Bell decided to expand the home brew supply shop he’d opened in 1983 into a full fledged brewery. He started brewing batches in a 15-gallon soup kettle and sold his first commercial beer in 1985. Like any of the many fledgling craft breweries during this time period, Bell’s had some hard times trying to compete with domestic breweries, but they weathered it and today brew around 300,000 barrels a year. Since those early days Bell’s has expanded beyond simply brewing. In 2008 it added an 80 acre farm in Shepherd, MI. Here, they put moisture management and 100% non-GMO farming practices to work in their efforts to sustainably grow 2-row barley, which they then use in several of their brews. Along with the farm, Bell’s does much to try and run a sustainable operation. All spent grains go to feed life stock. They recycle everything they possibly can. But maybe the coolest thing they’ve done to reduce impact is installing a sedum green roof above their conditioning warehouse. The living roof of greenery increases insulation efficiency and it looks beautiful. There isn’t much to ponder when considering why Bell’s made the Best Brown a mainstay in their fall seasonal lineup. Being a British Brown Ale automatically brings an anticipation of a mahogany wood colored liquid, deep and mysterious, hiding enough rich malt complexities to stave off the evenings’ cooler air. The art work only reinforces this idea bringing the colors and sense of autumn chill all together in a beautiful picture of an owl, looking out from its perch on a gnarled oak branch. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Bell’s Best Brown. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Bell’s Best Brown pours a rich orange-brown with garnet highlights around the edges. It’s cloudy off the pour, making it almost opaque, but the sediment soon settles away, leaving reasonable clarity. A finger of off-white head floats atop. It falls to just a skim of ocean spume, but never fails completely. Carbonation is hard to see through the dark chestnut depths, but where I can pick it out it seems medium. I poured this one a little too cold and had to wait awhile to get a good nose off it… After warming, the rich aroma of toasted malt and sweet caramel were very much the stars of the show. Notes of roast, toast, chocolate and breadiness accompanied. There are also low whispers of dark fruit. Mouthfeel and Taste: Like a nice quilt on a chilly autumn day this one sits the palate with a rich medium-full body. Carbonation is medium. No noticeable warming, it does coat the mouth a bit though. Much like the aroma the taste carries a complexity of dark and caramel malts. Toasty, somewhat sweet maltiness at the front before quickly transitioning into sweeter caramel and toffee-like qualities. Mid-palate brings slight herbal qualities from the hops, working in easy concert with the malty richness. Towards the back I get a kick of fudgy chocolate, before slight bitterness rises on the swallow. Get some great nutty qualities on the swallow that drift into the finish and aftertaste. The roast also rises again in the aftertaste. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is an awesome harbinger of winter. It’s robust maltiness building the prefect depth of sweet nuttiness for the cooler fall season. A transitional beer for a transitional season. Not light or dark, but filling that place between the airy summer beer and the darker, heavier blanket of the winter warmer. It’s also a stellar example of a style you don’t come across too often in the U.S. If you get the chance treat yourself to something special. Cheers!