Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bell's Darkest Day at Devil's Den

Okay, so this event was over two weeks ago at this point, but it was such a great time, I don't want to just skip writing about it. The event took place on December 21st, the shortest day of the year hence the name,  Darkest Day. Devil's Den got about 6 different Bell's beers including the incredibly rare Black Note. When the event was first announced at the end of November, I quickly put it on my calendar since I knew I couldn't miss it. Now, maybe I was a little too excited because when I got there at 4, there were only three other people in the bar and they all left before the event making me the first to arrive for it. I even took a picture!
See, empty bar. Luckily, I knew the next four people that walked in after me so I had plenty of company to pass the time.

I decided to start with The Brewworks Rude Elf's Reserve, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I'd been looking to try this one for quite a while so once I saw it, I knew I had to order it.
Spicy cinnamon nose with a slight note of sugary sweetness. First sip brought huge spice, dark fruit, and some brown sugar. The spices were the major point, though, and, while decent, this just reminded me of quite a number of other spiced belgian dark ales and didn't really bring anything new. I guess I was expecting something slightly different. Oh well.

After that I had a Bell's Rye Stout which was tasty but I'm going to skip writing about since it's been a while. The one I will write about is He'Brew Jewbelation 15, a 15% monster of an American Strong Ale which really reminded me more of an English Barleywine.
Now, I know what you're thinking. Why in the world would he order a 15% beer when he's waiting to try something awesome? Well, I don't really have an answer and really just wanted to try this, ABV be damned. And, wow, am I glad I did, it was great. Sort of a sweet, brown sugar nose. Quite fruity on first sip but in a good way. Plum and brown sugar were the major flavor with the ABV masked quite well. Just a great beer.

At this point, Devil's Den was finally ready to start the event and tap all of the Bell's beers including the firkin of Double Cream Stout. Here's them tapping it.
For some reason the camera made the guy's beard almost glow. It was white, but not that white. Kind of funny.

And, finally, we get to Bell's Black Note, a 50% (or so) mix of Expedition Stout, an imperial stout, and Double Cream Stout, an american stout, that is then aged in bourbon barrels.
This is an incredibly rare release and we were lucky to get a sixtel of it here in Philly. Unfortunately (and probably not surprising to anyone considering I'd been there a while), I didn't take any notes on this apparently. I do remember it had a huge, sweet bourbon nose without heat and the flavor followed pretty faithfully. The bourbon was very present but in a sweet, vanilla way. I didn't note any heat at all though it may have been because I had already had four beers. Still, I thought it was pretty amazing and was really impressed with it. If you like bourbon flavor, this is the beer for you if you can find it.

I had quite a great time at this event. Getting there three hours early wasn't terribly necessary but it allowed me to get a seat at the bar and hang out with people. By the time they tapped Black Note, the bar looked like this so you can see it filled up quite a bit since the above picture.
Quite full. The funny thing is that a lot of that crowd seemed to be for their happy hour and probably would have been there anyway. Considering the last keg of Black Note was in Philly over a year and a half ago, I expected it to be quite a bit busier but sometimes events surprise me. We may see one or two more in the coming year as Bell's seems to have made a bit more of it. We'll just have to see. With this, I'm mostly caught up. Up next will be the different breweries we visited over New Years.

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