Friday, October 26, 2012

Cherry Stout - Bell's Brewery

                Bell’s Cherry Stout is back in stores, and might just be a beer worth your hard earned money if you like stouts and tart cherries, check out my review below following some quick background information on Bell’s. 

In 1983, Larry Bell began brewing, later that year he founded the Kalamazoo Brewing Company, a homebrew supply store.  Two years later, in September of 1985 Larry Bell’s brewery served sold its first beer under the name Bell’s brewery.  Brewing in a 15 gallon soup kettle (yes, that’s right a 15 gallon kettle), Bell’s produced and sold 135 barrels (31 gallons per barrel) through the end of 1986.  It’s probably safe to say that he was brewing 10 gallon batches when he started, meaning that counting the first batch Larry Bell sold in September of 1985, he brewed another 419 batches in 17 months, or 24 batches per month on average.

A small operation, Larry Bell and his nine employees self-distributed their beer for the first 4 years of operation.  In 1989, Bells produced 500 barrels of beer and began distribution through a wholesaler.  By 1990, Bell’s began distribution beer outside of Michigan.  The brewery quickly expanded and became the first brewery in Michigan to open an onsite pub.  In 2001, Bell’s began brewing 7 days a week to keep up with demand.  In response to ever increasing demand, Bell’s opened a new brewing facility only to add a 10,000 square foot expansion in 2005.  

In 2008, Bell’s purchased an 80-acre farm north of their brewery.  Sustainably managed, the farm produces, 100% non-GMO, 2-row barley utilizing a no-till farming and tiled draining on the land.  The no-till method, with a three-year crop rotation, sure it cuts down on annual production, but it preserves the land and maintains the ecosystem.  It’s pretty cool stuff.

In May of 2011, Bell’s became one of the Top 10 craft breweries in volume sold; they are currently ranked seventh as of the 2011 rankings released in April 2012.  On May 14, 2012 Bell’s opened a new 200 barrel brew house as well as expanding their production facility with fourteen additional 400 barrel fermentation tanks, so expect them to be ranked even higher next year.  Currently Bell’s is available in 18 states, Puerto Rico and Washington DC.  To find out if you can get Bell’s near you, be sure to check out their Beer Finder page.

On to the review!

At Beeradvocate, Bell’s Cherry Stout currently has a score of 80. Over at ratebeer it has a score of 91 overall and 83 for style.

They Say:

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. 

Alcohol by Volume:  7.0%
Original Gravity:  1.082
Shelf Life:  12 months
Dates Available:  Winter
Available Packages:  Bottle and draft

I Say:

                Bell’s Cherry Stout pours opaque black with a milk chocolate colored, thick, creamy head that dissipates quickly.  The aroma is of earthy roasted malts, slight breadiness and strong tart cherries giving it a strong cherry pie character.  It smelled like a homemade cherry pie baking in the oven.

                The flavor started off smooth, creamy and malty with a pleasant roasted character backed up with a very strong dose of nice, tart cherries.   As with the aroma, the flavor reminded me of a very good homemade cherry pie, with just a hint of dark chocolate on the back end.  Bell’s Cherry Stout is full-bodied with a low to moderate level of carbonation.

                The Cherry Stout is back on the shelves again (at least it is here), if you can find a bottle near you do not hesitate to try it!

                That’s all for today, check back on Tuesday for another update.  Have a great weekend!

                Happy Drinking!!

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