Bell’s Sparkleberry

Tonight’s beer is one from Bell’s specifically made for Pride Month. Let’s see how it was.

ABV: 9%

Style: Fruit/Vegetable Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Sparkleberry is an American interpretation of a Belgian Tripel brewed with raspberries. Slightly tart, dry and spicy, it was originally brewed for release at Kalamazoo Pride in 2013, the same year it won a Bronze Medal at the Great American Beer Festival. It has returned every year since drawing incredible praise at other Pride events, beer festivals and at our Pub. Sparkleberry is a celebration of diversity and will debut in cans for wider distribution in June, 2018. Sparkle on.”

Random: I’ve started reading a lot and rejoined Goodbooks. So expect a lot of updates about what I’m currently reading.

The beer poured with a one finger, off white head. It dissipated at a rather fast pace and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, pink color with a lot of carbonation visible. The nose had a lot of raspberry juice. There was some white sugar as well. Not much else. The taste was all raspberry. It had raspberry juice upfront and then some raspberry sorbet with a nice white sugar sweetness. There was also a white vinegar tartness as well. I picked up some yeast along with a touch of booze. The body was on the medium side with a lot of carbonation. The finish was lengthy with raspberry. I enjoyed this beer, but without the raspberry, this beer would fall flat. I wouldn’t rush back to this beer again.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Bell’s Octoberfest Beer

Since Bell’s started getting distribution to New Jersey, I’ve been trying to pick up some of their seasonals that I’ve never gotten a chance to try. This one is one of their fall seasonals that I was interested in trying. I would be curious if Bell’s is considering updating their labels because they are a bit dated, but I guess all that matters is what’s inside.

ABV: 5.5%

Style: Marzen/Oktoberfest

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Crafted as a flavorful session beer and perfect for autumn, Octoberfest spends a full six weeks fermenting. With herbal hop aromas, this balanced amber lager focuses on lightly toasted malt that lends body without too much sweetness. Perfect for a week-long wedding celebration in Germany or the start of the Michigan autumn.”

Random: This beer is not surprisingly a seasonal.

The beer poured with a half a finger of off-white head. It dissipated quickly and left no lacing behind. The body was clear and light amber in color with a lot of carbonation visible. There wasn’t much to the nose. I picked up some malt, some brown bread and a touch of hop spiciness. The taste was clean with the expected malt sweetness up front. It had some brown bread and went into some grass and spice from the hop. The body was on the medium side with a lot of carbonation. It had a quick finish with sweet malt. A bottle of this was $2.17, which came to $.18 per ounce. This was a good beer, but didn’t blow my socks off. I wouldn’t refuse it if it was handed to me though.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Bell’s Pooltime Ale

I love canned beer offerings for Summer. I’m a big fan of drinking by the pool, so I picked this up during a trip to New York. Let’s see how it was.

ABV: 5.2%

Style: Witbier

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Pooltime Ale is a refreshing Belgian-inspired Wheat Ale with light clove notes. The truly distinguishing feature is the use of 100% Montmorency tart cherries grown in the Traverse City region of Michigan. These cherries add a subtle tartness and bright counterpoint to the other flavors, enhancing Pooltime’s fruity character and making it the perfect beer for all summer activities.”

Random: This is available on draft and in cans.

The beer poured with a two finger, thick, slightly off white head. It took a little while to dissipate and left some lacing on the glass. The body was hazy and was orange with a slightly red tinge. It had moderate carbonation visible. The nose started with wheat and orange segments, but quickly went into tart cherries. The taste was much of the same, except with a more significant cherry presence. It had red, tart cherries and a small amount of spice. Wheat and orange cleaner came through next. The body was on the light side, which was to be expected. It had a lot of carbonation. The finish was quick with cherries. A can of this was $2.03, which broke down to $.17 per ounce. I thought this beer was above average, but I thought it needed the citrus dialed up.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Bell’s Roundhouse IRA

When I first started the blog, it was a rarity that I got to try Bell’s. Now that I live on the border of Pennsylvania, it’s as easy as Stone to get. This was a new beer of theirs that I found on the shelves.


ABV: 7.5%

Style: American Amber/Red Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Substantial amounts of late-kettle hop additions and dry-hopping yields a heady blend of fruity aromas of pineapple, peach and citrus. Those aromas continue into a crisply bitter hop presence across the tongue, but the judicious use of toasted and caramel specialty malts prevents the hop intensity from overwhelming the palate. Locally sourced Michigan honey creates a smooth, dry finish that pulls everything together. The India Red Ale style is a variation on the IPA, but with more caramel and toasted malt character and a reddish hue. Roundhouse was first brewed at our original brewery in downtown Kalamazoo in 2009.”

Random: Val had to go to a baby shower today and I helped her shop for baby clothes. I found so many cute things, although if we were ever going to buy them, we would need to put a tail hole in them.

The beer poured with a full finger of slightly off white head that was thick and dense. It went away slowly and left a lot of lacing on the glass. The body was a deep, hazy chestnut color with moderate carbonation visible. The nose had a lot of nutty notes with old pine needles. There was alcohol as well. The taste had less nutty characteristics than the nose, although there were some hazelnuts. More notes of pine sap and pine needless and rubbing alcohol came through. It had a thick body with high carbonation. The finish was sticky and took forever with pine. A can of this was $2.33, which broke down to $.19 per ounce. I tend not to be the biggest fan of the style and this beer didn’t change my mind. If you love the style, I would say to pick it up, but otherwise, it’s not worth it.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Bell’s Lager Of The Lakes

Happy Saturday! Today’s selection is a beer that I picked up out-of-state and one of Bell’s core beers that I’ve never tried.


ABV: 5%

Style: American Pale Lager

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Nicely balanced, Bell’s Lager Beer focuses on the flavors developed in the brew house, matching a crisp bitterness & distinctive herbal hop aromas to a simple yet firm malt backbone. Following in the tradition of Bohemian-style pilsners, this beer spends a full six weeks maturing in the fermentation vessels. This extended conditioning period refines the overall flavor, highlighting the contributions of the malts & hops.”

Random: After reading the description from the brewery, I think I may have gotten an old bottle.

The brew poured with a one finger, white head. It dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, golden-yellow with a lot of carbonation visible, which was to be expected for the style. The nose was mild. I picked up sweet grain, almost like a combination of barley and corn and white bread. there wasn’t anything else in there, even after I let it warm for a few minutes. The taste was simple. It had sweetness from light honey and corn with the same barley. There wasn’t any note of grass that I could detect. The body was light and crisp with high carbonation. The finish was quick with the same sweetness. A single bottle went for $1.83, which came to $.15 per ounce. This beer wasn’t a chore to drink, but it was boring. Since I can’t get Bell’s in New Jersey, I always try to pick up their beers when I see them, but this isn’t one worth searching for.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Bell’s 30th Anniversary Ale

I’ve been drinking more coffee lately. We order coffee in bulk at home and we’ve been having really solid flavors lately (Black Bottom Cup Cake is my favorite). This beer is one that really embraces the coffee notes.


ABV: 11%

Style: American Double/Imperial Stout

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “In 1985, Larry Bell set out on a quest for better beer with his 15-gallon soup pot. Thirty years later, we will release our 30th Anniversary Ale. An American Imperial Stout, Bell’s 30th Anniversary Ale is also a nod to another beer and one of the earliest examples of the style released here in the United States, Bell’s Expedition Stout. ‘This beer is a testament to three-plus decades of hard-work. It honors all that has helped us get to this point – hard work, quality and authenticity,’ said Larry Bell, Bell’s President and Founder. ‘It reminds us of where we’ve been, how we’ve grown over the years, the challenges we’ve faced and at the same time, looks forward to what comes next,’ he added. Flavors of dark chocolate and fruit meld to create a full-bodied, roasty stout. A fair amount of Polaris hops lend a brightness and a nice character that will help carry the beer in its early stages making it incredibly drinkable and interesting. Malt characteristics will continue to develop over time, so that beer drinkers who choose to cellar it can enjoy the beer for years to come.”

Random: I got an espresso maker for Christmas and still haven’t used it.

The brew poured with a one finger, light brown head that dissipated slowly. It left some lacing on the glass. The body was black with no visible carbonation due to the color. The nose was pungent with lots of roasted malts and espresso. It had dark chocolate as well. The taste was much the same as the nose, but showed incredibly balance. Espresso, roasted malts and smoke came through first. Then, dark chocolate appeared. The alcohol was very hidden, and could make this dangerous. The body was thick with light carbonation. The finish was lengthy with smoke and roasted malts. This was an outstanding beer and made for a great sipper. If you can still find it on the shelves, pick two up, one to have now and one to age. At $4.50 a bottle ($.38 per ounce), it’s a good investment.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Bell’s Cherry Stout

While listening to Sirius at work, I found that Josh Groban and Kelly Clarkson did a version of “All I Ask Of You” from Phantom of the Opera. When I was a child, my mother loved that musical and played the tape of it constantly. Although I thought they did a good job, I’ve been so over-exposed to the Sarah Brightman version that it just doesn’t sound right without her. Now that I’ve bored you with a story from my childhood, let’s get to tonight’s beer.


ABV: 7%

Style: American Stout

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Tinted ruby-black, Cherry Stout gains its signature tartness from 100% Montmorency cherries grown in Michigan’s Traverse City region. Rather than doubling up on sweetness, this tart cherry varietal serves as a counterpoint to the warm, dark chocolate notes from the malt bill. Lightly hopped for balance, this stout is one of the cornerstones of the Bell’s stout portfolio.”

Random: I like cherries, but don’t like cherry-flavored things.

This beer poured with less than a half a finger of khaki-colored head that dissipated slowly, but left no lacing on the glass. A small crown hung out on top of the dark brown body. I couldn’t see any carbonation as a result of the color. The nose had burnt coffee, roasted malts and tart cherries. It had some prunes as well. On first sip, the tart cherries came through. It quickly went into old, burnt coffee, toast and pumpernickel bread. It was really simple and had a very thin mouthfeel, which I’m not a fan of in a stout. The carbonation was lacking. It had a quick finish with tart cherries. I thought that I would really enjoy this beer, but it didn’t deliver for me, especially at $3 a single ($.25 per ounce). I don’t feel the need to have it again.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0