Hell’s Bell’s

Summer’s here, folks, and so is beer.

There’s nothing quite like cracking open a cold one on a hot, sticky night. Ah! Instant relief – followed, of course, by the inevitable brain-melting analyses of each subsequent sip so you can blog about it later, until you’re sucking the fun out of the moment like it was marrow from a bone hauled out of a KFC dumpster.

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

I decided my first beer of the season would be from Kalamazoo’s own Bell’s. When I took a trip to Kalamazoo last fall, I’d heard quite a bit of a gossip about the owner, Larry Bell, and it colored me quite intrigued. From what I gathered, he was the city’s equivalent of Mr. Gatsby, a mysterious man about town with a checkered past that threw extravagant parties at his hip local brewery on Kalamazoo Avenue. In other words, he was just the kind of man I wanted brewing my beer.

So when I twisted open my first Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale under the great, bright “super moon” in the sky on June 23, I had high expectations. Thanks to two fine breweries in my hometown of Warren, Kuhnhenn’s and Dragonmead, I’d developed a discerning palette for beer. I’ve come to prefer challenging flavors, and the “spicy, floral aroma and taste” promised by the bottle sounded right up my dark, abandoned alley.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Bell’s Midwestern Pale Ale was sharp and distinct, closer to a microbrew than the offerings of more mainstream companies like Sierra Nevada. No, it didn’t have the extreme, pine forest in your mouth bitterness of one of those extra hoppy concoctions or the overwhelming pungency of more yeast-obsessed pale ales. It was an easier, smoother beer than that, but a true pale ale nonetheless. The quaint portrait of “Bell’s Brewery Farm” in Shepherd brought to mind happy images of hipster Versace lumberjacks with meticulously groomed beards tilling fields until dusk, and I felt they had every right to be proud of their work.

This was a good beer.

With 5.2% alcohol by volume, I was feeling pretty good after polishing off the second bottle. I knew, though, that if I kept drinking I’d quickly cross the line from intoxicated optimism to deep-seated, irredeemable cynicism. At that point, I’d be liable to do almost anything – perhaps even write another The Liquor Store.

Who wants that?

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8 thoughts on “Hell’s Bell’s

  1. I’m partial to their Oberon Ale. The Amber’s good as well as the Kalamazoo Stout. Didn’t know about the Gatsby-esque behavior. Now I will support them even more. Coffee and booze are the only thing that keep my blog running.

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