Friday, July 12, 2013

Bell's This One Goes to 11 Ale (2/10)

Bell's Brewing Company of Comstock, Michigan, created This One Goes to 11 Ale. The name, of course, is a reference to the mockumentary movie This Is Spinal Tap. It is also a reference to Bell's having brewed 10,000 batches. In the past, they've marked each 1,000 batches with a special brew.

The aroma of the beer is quite hoppy. The flavor backs that up. It starts quite hoppy and bitter, and continues in that vein through to the aftertaste. I have a hard time tasting anything in this beer but the hops. Since I'm the sort of person who appreciates what hops flavor brings to beer, but doesn't want it to dominate, you can imagine my reaction. In short, I don't care for it.

This reminds me of a recent experience at my favorite tavern. At a nearby table, a rather loud man asked the server to provide samples of two or three of their current drafts. She returned with them. I was familiar with all three. One of them was quite good, with a nice mix of flavors. The second was pleasant, but fairly bland. The third beer was so loaded with hops that you would be hard pressed to identify any other element of the flavor. As this man sampled the three, he proclaimed to all within earshot that the first two beers "have no flavor at all" and the third was good, the only one with "flavor". For him, hops bitterness clearly equals flavor in beer.

For me, a strong hops presence drowns out the more subtle and interesting flavors of the beer. It's like a buffalo wing sauce that focuses so much on bringing the heat that all you get is burn... And little or no flavor. While wings like that can be fun to eat occasionally for the challenge of seeing how many Scoville units you can handle, they aren't wings you are likely to eat regularly. And so it is with hoppy beers, at least for me.

If you read the description on the brewery's blog, it mentions six different varieties of hops used in the beer. Malt is mentioned once, briefly. That will tell you a lot about the brewer's intent here.  Since this was a one-release limited edition beer, I've not seen it available since I purchased this particular bottle.

ABV: 11%
IBU: unknown, best guess is about 40-55
My rating: 2/10

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