Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bell's Venus

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Here we are, the official first blog of 2015. So far, this year is shaping up to be light-years better than last year. And we're still in early days. We hope that this new year has brought you endless happiness and abundance. It's a frigid night here in Central Ohio, so time to hibernate and drink some damn good beer. Brr. Brrrr. Beer. Mmmmm. Beer.

Tonight we delve into Bell's Planet Series. Apparently Larry listened to Gustav Holst's The Planets, a classical composition written between 1914 and 1916 as an homage to the planets as we knew them at that time. The composition was a nod to the astrological correspondences of each planet, as opposed to the astronomical views, so there is a bit of mythology that also goes along with each piece. Little known fact: I used to play the oboe -- rather well, natch, and I vaguely recall playing this collection in a symphony performance. Yep, you have officially met my inner nerd. So, Larry had this blaring on his iPod one day, and was inspired to brew a series of beers to accompany each piece. Fucking brilliant. Let's see here: I enjoy classical music which stems from playing in a symphony, I have witchy tendencies and relate often to astrological events, and I enjoy craft beer. I can't go wrong with this series.

We did enjoy the Mars: The Bringer of War, back when it was released in early August, only we didn't review it because of fucking sad life circumstances. It was an imperial IPA, which Bell's does quite well. I recall it being not quite as good as the Oracle, but it was still a pretty good IIPA. Interesting (at least to me) fact: Part of Mars: The Bringer of War piece was used in the opening of my all-time favorite song, Diamond Head's "Am I Evil". Huh. Venus: The Bringer of Peace was released next, in October. It is an ale brewed with apricot juice, cardamom, and vanilla beans. Ummmm, OK. A little different sounding, and I closely followed my friends' opinions of this beer. The response wasn't great, so I tackle this with a little trepidation. Many of them drain-poured it. Yikes. But hey, I don't mind apricot, cardamom, or vanilla beans. I'm just not sure how they will play out in a single beer.

This poured a beautiful light- to medium-golden color, crystal clear, with a little bit of white head. The nose on this is quite interesting. Scents of apricot and cardamom for certain are present, along with some crackery notes, and there is something I cannot quite identify. Vague tropical fruits, a hint of vanilla are both present. I'm intrigued by this and wondering why all the haters are hating on this. Taking a sip, it's... strange. It starts out as pure apricot nectar and a hearkening back to Christmas mornings of my youth, when my parents would serve some yummy coffee cake or ham and cheese casserole with a glass of apricot nectar while opening presents. Then the vanilla kicks in with a vengeance. It's almost overpowering, like a candle, yet you can tell it is straight-up vanilla bean. This is why I am wary of vanilla beans used in beer, people! Yet, the apricot and vanilla play well together for a minute. Then, once that little interlude is complete and the vanilla comes in to overpower everything, this ends with a sweet, citrusy, almost lemony finish. The cardamom is more prevalent in the aroma and takes a back seat during the taste. Certainly not a drain-pour for me, as I have required every last bit of mine to fully examine it. This is a medium-bodied golden ale that tends to be sweet and then tart.

While I have had many better beers from Bell's, this isn't as terrible as many people felt. Then again, we let this one get some age to it, so it might have developed somewhat in the bottle. I am definitely feeling the 7.5% ABV. I don't know that I could drink an entire six-pack of this, but one was enough to entice me to engage with the moon on this bitingly cold night, even if it is through a window.

3.8/5 caps


So, fucking computer's acting up. It decides to freeze up on a constant basis. It's a miracle we're able to do this review in under 3 hours with our interruptions (read: changing music tracks and thinking about wording while rebooting this POS). New Year, New Computer. RIP Porn Maker 5000, you've served your purpose for 5 years as a refurbished Vista-based gateway to the world. Next computer will be named something like Beer Maker 6000. Don't question the names, just understand I don't like "Bob's computer" as a name for a computer.

So, as we are into the Planet Series (up next is Mercury), it would be a good time to point out that Ohio is colder than Mars today.

This has had time to warm while Jennie beautifully wrote and demonically cursed at the computer. At this point, any head that was once there has lost all body and remains a thin film of it's prior glory. This is a crystal clear medium-golden color with no real noticeable bubbles at this point. The aroma on this is interesting. It's apricot heavy with a faint hint of cardamom. I'm not picking up much else in the nose. The flavor on this is a roller coaster ride of a whole array of flavors blasting the taste buds with a variety of different ends of the spectrum all at once. Wow. Let me try and pick this apart. Apricot still taking lead through the front and middle with vanilla and citrus playing second fiddle, but growing as the flavor reaches the back end. The cardamom really doesn't shine through like it does in the nose (note- this is also 2 hours into warming up). There's a tart note toward the back that reminds me of lemonade tartness, bringing the citrus notes toward the front, but yet still blending well with the vanilla. I just now read Jennie's review thoroughly while rocking out to Slipknot to signify the ending of the hellish work week with the mind-numbing mandatory plant wide meeting of blah blah blah blah try and stay awake through this for four solid hours while you know your work load is piling up blah blah blah.... Regardless, reading Jennie's review, the flavor profile doesn't seem to change at all from being colder to room temp.

I agree that this isn't a drink a sixer in a night beer, but it is such a unique beer that you should try it if you have an opportunity. I know it was a limited release, limited distribution, but people hold onto bottles. Go find a friend.

3.8/5 Caps


Food pairing: Vanilla bean ice cream
Cheese pairing: a good ol' classic Provolone (not smoked, because you gave that shit up for your New Year's Resolution)
Music pairing: Well, this one kind of pairs itself, since it was based on a killer classical orchestration. Give Holst's "Venus" a listen while drinking this. And if you are really that opposed to classical music, well then, go listen to some Neil Young and "Harvest Moon".