Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two Hearted Ale (Bell's Brewery, Inc.)

Great anticipation surrounds my tasting of Bell's Two Hearted Ale. This IPA has been praised to me in the highest terms by several beer lovers whose opinions I trust, and it maintains an average rating of 95 after 2,661 community reviews on

A monochromatic painting of a salmon adorns the label. (I guess that's what people fish for up there in the Upper Peninsula where the bottle recommends traveling?) I pop the cap and pour. The beer is on the lighter side of amber with a slight hop haze and half an inch of fluffy foam.

The aroma is slightly citrusy, but delicate -- not the sharp, resiny citrus nose so prevalent in American IPAs. There is also a delightful powdery, cotton candy freshness.

The Bell's website speaks of "massive [hop] additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter," so imagine my surprise when the first impression in my mouth is... malt and not hops. Yes, the hops are there, of course, in the requisite abundance, but they are balanced in perfect measure with a sweet, slightly toasty grain backbone.

"Balance" is the word that keeps coming back to me as I sip this medium-bodied ale. Never do I note the clean malt flavor without immediately observing the floral Centennial hop charm, and vice versa. There is some peach fruitiness in ride out, but the hops-and-malt interplay carries through to the farthest reaches of the aftertaste. At a scarcely-noticeable 7% ABV, this one's drinkability is downright dangerous.

I haven't done any research on the origin of its name, but it is easy for me to imagine hops and malt flavors as the "two hearts" beating in unison within this brew. I now proudly join the chorus of fans proclaiming its greatness.

From the bottle's label:

An India Pale Ale style well suited for adventurous trips to the Upper Penninsula. American malts and enormous hop additions give this beer a crisp finish and an incredibly floral hop aroma.

Featured beer:
Two Hearted Ale

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