Bell's "Quinannan Falls" IPL

How would I describe Bell's? Well, I went ahead and created a chart (I'm working on a standard - don't judge me) to reflect how they have done so far, and I added it below (the chart does not include this rating). Anything above a 2.0 is good enough to drink, and anything over a 3.0 is a definite recommend. If the brand has a 0.0 (which Bell's does not) it would really make me hesitate to get another beer from them. If they have a 5.0 (which Bell's does) I'll pretty much try anything they have.

This is a particularly pungent beverage. Floral and pine hops are perched atop a wet dough of a malt, and it emanates a notable distance from the top of the glass. The word "pale" in the name of this beer certainly fits, as it is a very pale yellow with a very light haze to it. The head is pretty substantial, but it's not overwhelming, and it is sticky enough that it could be mistaken for a regular IPA.

Firs sip is a little more tart and tangy than I expect…

Bell's "Official" Hazy IPA

I have really liked this brewer, but the last beer I had from them fell short of the mark. I was really taken aback by just how off the mark that beer was, but I don't expect that to be indicative of a shift of capability or desire to put out a solid product. They've been pretty consistent up till now, and the last one was a real disappointment, but I anticipate glorious things on the horizon.

The yellow beer is hazy just like it says on the can. It's head is made of tiny little bubbles that never completely go away, but I wouldn't call this beer particularly frothy. The aroma is interesting in that it seems to be on the edge of having a funk, but it doesn't actually get there. Instead, there's wheat lifting up a citrus blend that is dominated by lemons. The fruits are so forward that I'm kind of surprised they went with calling this a hazy IPA instead of a juicy IPA (which they actually say in the small print underneath that I didn't read until just no…

Bell's "The Oracle" Double IPA

Only one Bell's beer so far has fallen short of my "recommend" rating of 2.0-3.0. Anything higher is kind of a strong urge for others to try, and anything less is a suggestion to avoid. Better than that, they are one of the few brewers to score a perfect 5.0 with a beer, and that gives you a golden ticket to try whatever you want.

The copper-colored beer has a dense and patchy head that leaves lacing that reminds me of the thin veneer of sand that you get on your legs after walking along the beach on a breezy day. The aroma is more yeast than I expected, but that is supported by the caramel and toffee malt that has a pinch of bread about it that may just be me mixing the yeast with the malt. There's a hint of lemon, but it's not a citrus-heavy beer.

First sip is not the laid-back ease that I expect from a DIPA. It's yeasty, bitter, and it has the anger of an old man who is sure that the kids next door are screwing with his wi-fi, and he's not able to Face…

Redstone "Nectar of the Hops" Mead

Here's the thing. I think I used the wrong glass. What I found was that cold mead should be served in a glass with a stem, so I grabbed one of the rarely-used wine glasses that we have. I'm pretty sure I could have just gone with one of the beer glasses that I have with a stem, and you would have a better idea what color the mead is. Ah well - you live and you learn.

The beverage is a clear gold almost the color of a watered down honey. The aroma is really weak, but I think I smell honey and sweetness. The problem is that I only think that I do - I can't know for sure. Honestly, there is an aroma vaguely similar to that Blue Flame moonshine that I had a while back; this doesn't make sense, and I don't know why I smell it.

First sip makes me want to say the same thing I said about almost every other mead I've tried - it taste like a sweet white wine. I'm not familiar with wine at all, and maybe I should just start running these things past my sisters for the…

Perennial "Abraxas" Imperial Stout

I had two other stouts from these guys, and they fell equidistant on either side of my imaginary 2.5 middle ground for ratings. One was a good beer, and the other was a dessert beer that really didn't hit the mark well enough. So, we come back to an imperial stout, and that is the exact kind that got the higher mark. I have no reason to think that this one won't get at least as good if not a better rating.

A very dark brown head sits atop an impenetrable-to-light black beer. Cinnamon hits me first, and chocolate with molasses seem to back it up. It says that there are peppers in the beer, but I don't smell them; I may be getting the ghost of a shadow of some capsaicin, but I also might be imagining it in my head. Actually, where else would my imagination happen? That's hard to imagine.

First sip is thick, sweet, cinnamon with molasses, earth, chocolate, and there are those peppers, lurking in the background. I have to say that most other beers with peppers that I'…

Fifty West "Doom Pedal" White Ale

I was suitably impressed with the surprise-from-left-field IPA from Fifty West, and I figured I would seek out more of their delicious nectar. For this second sampling, I'm going for the white ale, and they tend to bounce around in my ratings, but they generally score above average. Most of you will know the style from the very good (although often maligned) Blue Moon Belgian White, and most people just refer to this as a "Blue Moon" as if they only have one style.

The white ale is unsurprisingly not white. It makes me wonder if the person (or people) who named it had ever seen milk before. Instead of white, this beer is clear amber-brass with a reasonable white head that is gone within a minute or so. A light dusting of bubbles here and there are all that tells you this is carbonated. The aroma is crisp cracker malt and lemongrass.

First sip is more complicated than the smell, and it presents a bit of tartness with coriander, lemons, and cracker malt. I'm still goin…

Goodwood Bourbon Barrel Stout

So far, their wood may be good, but I haven't been that impressed with their beer. Presumably, they named the brewery after the wood that they used to age the beers. Well, I have found a proper appreciation for beers that age themselves in barrels, despite my first batch just not working out, so let's see if we can find the balance here.

The black beer has some white specks settling on the bottom of the glass, and that's how I know it isn't completely opaque. It is topped with a light tan head that is quite voluminous and takes a while to descend; this is quite odd for a beer from a barrel, as I have found that most of these can't retain a head worth a darn. The aroma is a slight bit of bourbon with a caramel and toffee malt.

Firs sip is very restrained and quite nice. Normally, these barrel aged beers are heavy with liquor and tend to be a bit overwhelming, but this is very easy to sip. It has brown bread, toffee, caramel, earth, and that lingering bourbon that is…