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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: Bell's Goes Well With Food

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we try some beer from one of the oldest craft breweries in the Midwest.

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza has started a series of beer dinners at its locations around Charlotte, N.C. The restaurant brings in some pretty decent breweries pouring some great beers that are matched with dishes prepared by the staff. For $30 it is an economical way to enjoy a meal with some great beer and education along the way.

Before heading out on vacation a couple of weeks ago I attended one of the Brixx dinners featuring Bell's Brewery from Michigan. Regional Sales representative Derek Zomonski was on hand to run the tasting and take diners through four courses of beer and food pairings.

Bell's has been around since 1985, making some truly classic beers. It is amazing to think that from its humble start in Kalamazoo that Bell's has grown to be a major craft brewery pumping out 90,000 barrels annually. It just goes to show what consistent quality and some product creativity can do for a brewery.

The Bell's dinner at Brixx featured four brews:

Bell's Oberon: This is one of my favorite Bell's beers. It is interesting because it is light and accessable, yet full of character. Brixx matched this American wheat with a shrimp skewer with a red pepper spiced orange marmalade, which played nicely with the brew. Slightly cloudy, this beer is crisp and clean. It is surprisingly 5.8 percent alcohol by volume.

Bell's Amber Ale: Brixx matched this with a pizza that was topped with asparagus, wild mushrooms, fontina cheese, sun dried tomato pesto and spinach. That's quite a combination for any beer to keep up with, but the ample amount of malt in this brew did the trick.

Bell's Two Hearted Ale: This IPA has a nice floral nose and crisp hoppy flavor. Brixx matched it with a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, basil and mozzarella in a roasted garlic cream sauce. At 7 percent alcohol by volume this beer has an edge to it that hides behind huge amounts of flavor.

Bell's Double Cream Stout: Bell's regularly makes 10 different stouts, plus has a couple of classics that are brought back on rare occasions. Bell's Kalamazoo Stout and Bell's Expedition Stout are on most beer fanatics lists of must try beers. Paired with a chocolate layered cake, the Double Cream Stout is an English style stout with a nice combination of sweet and coffee-like flavor notes. These guys know how to make dark beers.

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