In terms of hype Bell's Hopslam is right up there with Pliny the Elder and Dark Lord. An important difference here is that Hopslam is actually available down the street from me, even if it sells out in a matter of hours. I've had both Pliny and Dark Lord and only one lived up to the hype. I could see myself happily standing in line for Dark Lord with a thousand other beer nerds. Pliny was a different story, it was good but I prefer a dozen similar style beers, I just didn't see what the big deal was. Pliny is similar in style to Hopslam so I was a bit hesitant to drop nearly $20 on a six pack, but here we are...
One of my favorite beers of 2010 was Bell's Batch 9000. It was a beer that tasted like nothing I'd had before. It was extremely rich, sweet and strong. I only had one six pack of the Batch 9000 and those bottles didn't last very long between sharing and my own gluttony, so it seemed like the 9,000 was gone before I got to fully appreciate it. I wanted more, but there simply wasn't any... Here we are, 8 months later, and Bell's final batch series beer is out on shelves. I jumped at the chance to get two six packs of the Batch 10,000 before it too was gone forever.
Stouts are great. I often find that my one complaint with Stouts are that they are a little too dark, too roasted and just too bitter for my tastes. What I like about the Cream Stout and Milk Stout styles are is the added lactose sugar really mellows out the big harsh malts. Bell's Double Cream Stout sounds like it could be the best idea since Left Hand Milk Stout if it really is twice as sweet or twice as creamy as some of the other Cream Stouts I've had before. I'm a little apprehensive because it is possible to have too much of a good thing, I'm not looking for a dark chocolate beer... I still want there to be plenty of Stout in this Double Cream Stout.
Bell's brews some pretty great beer. I can't think of anything from Bell's that I genuinely didn't enjoy. Then again, Bell's brews some expensive beer as well. So there are a lot of beers from Kalamazoo that just don't make it into my fridge. Each time I drink a pint of Bell's I think to myself, "I need to drink more of this, it's really quite good." For some reason though, I never follow through on it. This bottle of Consecrator Doppelbock, for example, has been sitting in the basement for a year. I haven't been waiting for a special occasion or anything, I've just been busy with other beers. Other beers that aren't as good as what I've had from Bell's.
Everyone I've ever talked to about Bell's beers has nothing but nice things to say about them. Their beers have been hit or miss with me... I've not has a beer from Kalamazoo that I've hated but there are been plenty which have been forgettable. When I first hear about the Batch 9000 I was intrigued. First because this beer was a limited release to commemorate the 9,000 batches of beer brewed at Bell's, but also because it was brewed with molasses and licorice... that's something you don't drink every day.
It may be March but the snow is still falling I decided to open up a bottle of Bell's Christmas Ale and pretend we were still in the holiday season. I picked up this bottle as part of a "build your own six pack" mixer just after I wrapped up my annual Jingle Beers review of Christmas seasonals. After drinking two dozen Christmas themed beers during the month of December I was a little burnt out and decided to hang on to this bottle for next year, or at least throw a miniature Christmas in July party for myself. This weekend's snowstorm changed my plans and I decided to make the most of staying indoors by opening up an early (late) Christmas present.