Bell’s Two Hearted Ale

By on September 23, 2008 @ 7 PM (No Comments)

It’s another Thursday beer review where Father and Son Beer Love get together, fire up the computer, video conference each other and have a beer. It’s a little known fact that this was actually Alexander Graham Bell’s vision when he invented the telephone in 1876.

Tonight’s review is the Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. Don’t be fooled by this one – it may be from Bell’s Brewery (which in fact was not invented by Alexander Graham Bell), but it’s not a dark beer. Bell’s has a bit of a reputation as a dark beer company, at least in our minds (see one of our all-time favorites – the Bell’s Expedition Stout). This one is actually an IPA – an India Pale Ale. If you need a little background on what an IPA is check out our review of the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA where we go into the origins of the style. To show you what a great beer company Bell’s is, this non dark Two Hearted Ale comes in at #79 on the Top 100 Best Beers in the World. So, yeah, Bell’s knows a thing or two about beer in general, not just the dark stuff.

For this review we used an English pint glass. We got an initial temperature of 54.3 F and the 12 oz bottle comes in at 7% ABV. The initial pour gave us a huge 3 inch foamy white head that left a good amount of lacing as it dissipated slowly. There’s a lively carbonation to the clear, sparkling amber/orange body. A beautiful looking beer.

The first whiff gives us a good medley of aromas – straw, citrus (grapefruit, lemon and orange), floral, grass, mint, apple, pear and white wine. A nice complexity and a nice balance. The taste heavily echoes some of the hop aromas – citrus (mostly the grapefruit) and grass and also adds a note of resin. It also adds a light toasted malt flavor for some balance. An interesting taste that is completely and utterly dominated by hops. When we finished and took a look at the hop section of our review form it was slammed full – we had 8 hop notes circled in total for the aroma and taste.

The initial flavor comes in as a moderate sweet and a light to moderate bitter. The finish flavor evolves to a light to moderate sweet and a heavy bitter. The finish length is long – maybe the longest finish we’ve ever done. It’s the finish that won’t die – a sip of water didn’t make the bitterness in the finish go away at all. The mouthfeel is oily, the tongue hit covers the whole tongue completely – front, middle and back. There is a fair amount of body lacing and on the patented malt to hop scale it comes in 3 clicks to the right of balanced on the hoppy side – one click away from the hoppiest mark we could put.

For our bottom line notes we marked a yes for drinkable, balance and memorable. We marked a no for repeatable (one was plenty for us), no for harmony, no for wow factor and no for buy again.

Now you might be saying – what is our major malfunction that we wouldn’t want to buy it again? It’s rated the 79th best beer in the world after all! Well, It goes way too far over to the hop side for us. We’re not anti-IPA, but we much prefer the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA because it had a much better balance to it.

See, if you’re going to slam a beer full of hops you need a lot of malts to balance it out. There’s just not a lot of that in the Two Hearted Ale. Whatever malt sweetness there is in the beginning, the hops march in and just pound the sweet out of your mouth like all those drums in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China. You definitely feel that hop burn on your tongue – it reminds us a bit of our fated Ipswich Original Ale review – where we noted a burnt taste that we thought may in fact be the hops killing our taste buds. So yeah, it would be our contention that the hop shock factor is high.

Now even with all that said we can appreciate this beer for what it is. The Bell’s Two Hearted Ale makes a big statement. We love most of the Bell’s beers and they don’t half ass anything they do – this beer included. It’s probably a good example of the IPA style, but this may frighten a craft beer newbie away from ever doing another IPA. It would probably be better with food (which might be the only thing that would kill the finish) and it would likely be a great beer for a hophead. Others may want to proceed with caution.

Bell’s Two Hearted Ale Rating: 6 out of 10 (?)

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