Bell’s is one of my favorite Michigan breweries and it is a large and well-known presence in the craft beer industry, for good reason. They make consistently great beers, in my opinion, and I fondly remember how we always knew summer was (eventually) on the way in Michigan when we’d see Oberon on the shelves! And if you needed a hop bomb, you wouldn’t have to reach any further than Two-Hearted Ale. Bell’s is particularly well-known for the stouts they brew, and they brew a lot of them! Of the 19 beers in their regular line-up, 5 of them are stouts. If you are a “stout drinker” and your choice of beer is a Guinness, you need to do yourself a favor and have an Expedition Stout off the tap and you’ll get a much better idea of what the style’s possibilities are!
Cherry Stout is one of Bell’s stouts that is available from November to March every year. The first time I had this was at Charlie Hooper’s and it was just a sip off a friend’s (a Guinness drinker… his head almost exploded!), and I was expecting something sweet and cloying. Boy, was I wrong! I purchased this sample of Cherry Stout in Michigan this summer, so it has a little age on it, not a bad thing for a stout.
Cherry Stout is 7%ABV and it pours black with a caramel-colored head. I drank it from a snifter to collect to aromas, which consist of roasted malts, cherries (more subtle than you would think), caramel and alcohol (although I think what I was smelling as alcohol may have been the cherries). Cherry Stout is brewed with juice from tart Michigan cherries, so you are going to get a ton of cherry in the flavor, but not the sweet kind you’d find in a pie!
On the first sip I was assaulted by the tart cherries. This beer borders on being a “sour beer” in how tart it is initially. Especially if you’re expecting a sweet beer, this will knock your socks off! The cherry flavor is very up-front, and the second half is more roasty and dry like a normal stout (and a good one at that). It’s really smooth and not overly carbonated at all. Minutes after a sip the cherry flavor is still on my palate, so it really lingers in the aftertaste and is just wonderful.
Cherry Stout is one of my favorite beers because the stout is basically a vehicle for the fruit, but at the same time, the fruit complements the stout perfectly. I think the brewers at Bell’s struck a perfect balance in this beer and it’s a great one to enjoy on a cool night after a meal. I really think the beer improves with a little warmth, so I like to drink this beer around 60° or so and I don’t mind it at room temperature, for that matter.