For me, beer marks the passage of time in my life, with a different style or flavor for each season. Within those seasons I tend to cling to certain beers–for example, this winter was all about New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series Dunkelweiss. In turn, those specific beers become entwined with my experience and I use them like Hansel and Gretel’s trail of bread crumbs as markers of where I’ve been. As I retrace my steps, I don’t think that there has been a beer that has defined my life as much as Bell’s Two Hearted Ale.
Two Hearted is a full-flavored American Pale Ale from Bell’s Brewery out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. It pours golden with a thin head that sticks around for the first few sips and has a great nose of citric hops with floral and piney aromas. In fact, you can smell it from across the picnic table on a calm night. It smells as if you are laying in the grass beneath apple blossoms in full bloom during a hot day in summer. The greatest part about its aroma is that unlike many other strong-smelling IPA and APA, Two Hearted’s strong hop aromas don’t translate into a harsh bitterness. Instead, it tastes floral, citric and piney with a subtle sweetness from the malt.
But this beer’s impact on me reaches far beyond its taste. Like I’ve said before, the greatness of any beer comes from the context in which you drank it as much as it does from the actual beer itself. Beer culture is all about the social aspect of drinking and Two Hearted Ale was one of the go-to beers when my friends and I would make our way to the Union Terrace on Madison’s Lake Mendota for a few pitchers. The terrace in Madison is a unique space where people from all walks of life congregate, taking in the scenery and breathing in the fresh air off the lake while drinking quality beer. I can’t even count the number of times Anthony and my study group gathered to share a few pitchers of Two Hearted while we studied for our Ecology exams or how many times my roommates and I would get a pitcher for a game of cards. Two Hearted became the time of year when the snow was melted and the tables and chairs were set outside on the terrace–it became spring semester and warm weather.
So when the snow is gone for good here in the Midwest and the ice is melted from the lakes, grab a six-pack of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale to start Spring off on the right foot. Or better yet, gather a group of friends and share a few pitchers outside whether it be a patio area or the Union Terrace in Madison because this beer is one you will not forget.
Best Enjoyed: Cold, out of a pitcher and in the open air.
Food Pairing: Try it with rosemary-skewered shrimp over a bed of carrot-juice infused couscous and asparagus. It’ll be wonderful.
Where to find it: Luckily for us, Bell’s distributes across the Midwest, the East Coast and Arizona (?). You should be able to find Two Hearted Ale at your favorite establishment.
For more information on Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, visit the Bell’s Brewery website.
Tried Two Hearted Ale? Tell us about what you thought! Tweet (@midwestbeer), Facebook or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).