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Drink of the Week: Bell’s Brewery's Old Fashioned Holiday

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10 percent ABV. $21.99 for a four-pack of 12 oz. bottles at Green’s.

Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery is one of the outstanding craft breweries that remains thoroughly independent and family-owned. It offers an exceptional range of beers, but its claim to fame is the world class Two Hearted Ale, a legendary beer that is the protype of the American India Pale Ale and is still considered by many enthusiasts to be one of the best craft beers in the United States

Old Fashioned Holiday, like the name implies, is Bell’s special seasonal for cold winter nights. The base beer for this brilliantly constructed winter warmer is Bell’s Christmas Ale, a Scotch ale that is a version of the English barleywine. Old Fashioned has the defining characteristics of a Scotch ale, with its well-hidden but high alcohol, rich dark fruit notes and caramel sweetness, and little or no bitterness.

The extra treatment for Old Fashioned begins after fermentation is complete. The beer is aged in bourbon barrels, which imparts more alcohol and the caramel notes of bourbon. After aging, orange peel and dried cherries are added to the brew.

The cherry flavor pairs beautifully with the dark fruit, dark chocolate and caramel flavors from the malts and bourbon barrel. The mild flavor and astringency from the orange peel serve as a counterpoint to the other ingredients and balances somewhat the sweetness of the beer. This tasty tapestry of flavors would be a perfect for sipping out of a brandy snifter on a cold winter evening. Cheers!

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