Total Score: 7.6/10
*Heavy jazz drums beating* “A B C D E F G H I gotta’ gal wears her toenails long. Drives a red Barracuda, singin’ meat packer songs, And she ain’t from Kalamazoo…” if you know your Primus (as well I do) by now you’ll have that Ler electric guitar riff ringing through that grey lump between your ears and singing about a 55’ Chrysler where the trunk never ends… but what has any of that got to do with Bell’s Two Hearted Ale??? Specifically: Bell’s is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Whenever I hear Kalamazoo the Primus takes over, I’ve learned not to fight it all these years – just slap on Brown Album and get into a Claypool-esque bass-slapping groove and see exactly where the funk takes me [somewhere funky no doubt].
Poured from a 355ml bottle into a nonic pint.
A: Hazed amber bodied – the colour of autumn in a glass – with a decent off-white half centimetre head. There is some nice lace scrawl on the side of the glass denoting that this is perhaps a kick-ass IPA. 8/10.
S: West Coast IPA then: Piney/citrusy hops straight up on the nose, hints of biscuit and caramel malts, a light honey scent, but overall nothing spectacular – it’s a fairly standard West Coast IPA aroma, a decent one, however nonetheless a tad ordinary to this nose these days (though I do suspect considerable hop fade from the package date of 29 Sep 2016 – that’s 5 months of hop fade there!). 6/10.
T: Honey/biscuit maltiness to the fore, light piney/citrus hop presence – yep, hop fade – boy it sucks knowing how highly praised this beer is in the US and knowing now what a fresh IPA tastes and smells like. I mean it’s still a really tasty IPA, don’t get me wrong, but the hops have faded off big time. Balance is pretty spot on, I can only imagine how good a fresh Two Hearted would taste. Finish is a herbal/floral mild bitterness. 8/10.
M: Almost medium bodied with a thin but dense carbonation… spot on here. 8/10.
D: I really need to do a beer tour of the US, so many beers that are hop-heavy are getting to Australia 2-3 months (at the earliest) and it’s impossible to imagine how good this and many other American IPAs I’ve tried are… except there have been a few IPAs that have tasted really good from the US (Deschutes Fresh Squeezed, Victory DirtWolf, anything Victory really) so maybe it’s down to what the distro is doing? Who knows. Shame for Bell’s this isn’t getting to us quick enough though – they deserve better – all US craft brewers deserve better. 8/10.
Food match: I would hazard a guess a fresh bottle would pair with spicy BBQ ribs.