Bell’s Pale Ale

Bell’s Brewery, Comstock, Michigan
Pale Ale
5.2 % ABV
3 x 12 oz. bottles into 3 different kinds of glasses

I find this beer WORTHY. So WORTHY, in fact, that I drank three bottles of it before venturing to dissect its flavors in this review. Each tasting was done practically sober, on three TOTALLY separate days.

I found the first bottle pleasurable. More nose and less bitter than other pale ales, the flavor was distinct, but nothing stood out other than the obvious: hops. I wanted to reach deeper into the flavor profile and find those surprising similarities to everyday smells and tastes. I spent the next several days deeply inhaling.

Boiled potatoes? No.
Mushrooms? No.
Fresh-cut grass? Quite a bit.
Honey? Yes, a bit of that, too.
Dirt? No.
Car exhaust? No.
Dish soap? Not really.
Toothepaste? Definitely not.
Cumin, sage, oregano, ginger? No, no, no and no.

What was this lingering pleasurable taste?

The second bottle was consumed too hastily to pay much attention. The high school student I tutor was on the door step and I had half a beer left to chug.

The third bottle is sitting in front of me now. I sniff and detect more rotten scents than typical of a pale ale.  The body is amazingly thick. The taste reminds me of being outdoors and finishes with a grassy, spicy kick- like getting gently tossed off the back of a very small, gentle horse. There’s a touch of butterscotch and caramel. I like this beer, even if I can’t decipher its secrets.

I decided the beer would make a good addition to the soup on the stove. Here’s a never before seen recipe for Bell’s Pale Ale Mushroom Leek Soup. It takes about 1.5 hours total, largely unattended.

Stock:

  • 1 Tbsp neutral oil
  • tops of two leeks (darkest green part), very coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • 12 pepper corns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms

In a large pot or dutch oven, lightly sauté the coarsely chopped fresh vegetables in oil. Add the water and other ingredients. Heat on high until it comes to a boil, then simmer on low, partly covered, for 20 minutes while you prepare the soup ingredients below. Strain in a colander to remove large vegetables and strain again through fine sieve before adding to soup to remove dirt from leaks and mushrooms.

Soup:

  • bottom of two leeks (whiter parts) cut into half moons
  • 4 thin carrots (or 1 1/2 fatter ones), cut into small half-moons
  • 8-12 oz. mixed mushrooms, cut small
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 8 c. strained stock (see above)
  • 1/3 c. wheat berries or barley
  • smallest dash sesame oil
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 bottle Bell’s Pale Ale
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

While stock is simmering, chop leeks into thin half-moons. Set them in a large bowl of cold water and swirl vigorously a couple of times to remove dirt. Let sit in water to let dirt settle. Chop carrots into small half-moons and chop mushrooms. Gather other ingredients.

When stock is done, strain and remove to another bowl. Heat oil in stock pot over medium-high heat. Remove the leeks from the water with a slotted spoon, careful not to disturb dirt at the bottom. Add leaks to the pot. After 2 minutes, add butter, lower heat to medium, and cover. Leave about 5 minutes, until leaks are soft and creamy. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes. Add stock and wheat berries, raise heat until it boils, then simmer 20-30 minutes. Wheat berries will still be a bit chewy. Add the rest of the ingredients (check salt _after_ adding tamari and beer) and simmer another 15-20 minutes, until wheat berries are desired softness. Check for salt and pepper one last time and serve. Freshly chopped parsley or grated Parmesan cheese would make good garnishes. Serve each person their own 12 oz. serving of Bell’s Pale Ale.

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~ by nininja on June 16, 2010.

3 Responses to “Bell’s Pale Ale”

  1. I like that you use all parts of the leeks

  2. Saw this today, and it reminded me of this post!! Another use for pale (or any) ale: http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2010/06/ale-and-pretzel-soft-caramels.html

    (though it might not highlight the flavor of the ale as well as the soup)

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