As Mattie indicated on Friday, 'tis the season for Winter special brews. With that theme in mind I am pretty stoked to share Bell's Special Double Cream Stout, though it looks from their website as though it might not be available out west. If that's true, it sucks, because I had hopes of hauling a case of them up to Tahoe for the yet-to-be-planned ski trip we'll be going on.
Bell's (formerly known as Kalamazoo) has been referred to as "America's stout specialists." This is actually the second stout of theirs I've had, the other one (Kalamazoo stout) was also quite good but I'll save it for a non-holiday post. Bells is a Michigan Brewery, and that's where they are biggest, but they show up in establishments that pride themselves on craft brews over much of the Eastern U.S.
Back to the beer at hand. The double cream is fairly thick, even for a stout--thicker even than Guinness. It's got a blend of something like 10 or 12 different malts, but like stouts generally, the malts have a very "roasty" flavor. The underlying flavors are coffee, chocolate, and that distinctive smokiness--classic stout flavors. But besides being exceptionally well balanced, the beer is marked by a subtle sweetness and a very creamy mouthfeel.
When I first tasted it I remarked to my buddy that it was the "hot chocolate of beers," but that comment needs some qualifying. It's not sweet like lambics are sweet. It's just has a much milder bite than most stouts, which combined with the undertones of chocolate and the silky smooth texture gives the impression of drinking hot chocolate.
Which brings me back to the Tahoe comment. This is precisely the sort of beer you'd reach for after getting back home to your cabin after a day on the ski-slopes and throwing a couple of logs on the fire. But for those of you who don't like the mountains, it'll probably hit the spot on any day where you'd much rather enjoy a lazy day inside than brave the winter elements. Now if I can just get BevMo to stock the stuff...