8.5% ABV bottled
It’s a workout being a beer geek! Constantly researching the latest hot releases, scouring the city (if not the country (if not the world)) for bottles, walking aimlessly around town trying to find a bar with “acceptable” offerings for you palate. You know, sometimes it just feels good to relax and drink with no expectations. When I was at my friend DW’s house in Virgina recently, admiring his massive beer fridge, I saw two six-packs for two beers I’d never heard of from two Southern breweries I’d likewise never heard of. The War of Northern Aggression seems to still have a lingering affect on the quality of microbrew coming out of the dirty dirty, but I’m always willing to try something new. I asked DW if I could snag a bottle of each before I headed back to New York and he gleefully agreed, clearly wanting to get these brews off his hands. I love to try new stuff and it’s great to test your reviewing skills on beers with absolutely no buzz–neither positive nor negative–that could taint your objectivity, but I still threw these two into my fridge expecting to use them as nothing more than 3-AM-last call-don’t-want-to-waste-the-good-shit-in-my-apartment beers. I was, quite frankly, pretty wrong. I actually ended up drinking Bell Ringer to kick off some early college football watching on Saturday. It was a pleasant pleasant surprise. I haven’t had many ESBs (Extra Strong Bitters) in my life and after this one I intend to try many more. An ESB is kinda best described as a DIPA without the bitterness, oddly enough. Bell Ringer was indeed hoppy hoppy hoppy sans bitterness, boozy but drinkable, well balanced and flavor-packed. I wish I’d swiped more bottles from my buddy. Don’t be scared to try this one if you live in the miniscule swath of land where it is distributed. I believe this is the first beer I’ve ever had from South Carolina and in that regard, it’s the best I’ve ever had from the Palmetto State*. (Whatever a palmetto is.)
5.6% ABV bottled
Bell Ringer was a very pleasant surprise and Afton, Virginia’s pale ale offering was pretty darn enjoyable too. Bursting with a nice Cascade hoppiness yet still fairly balanced. A pronounced bitterness, yet quite drinkable. Easily as quality a pale ale as some of the more “famous” breweries’ flagship offerings. I would never be upset to do a little session self-shitcanning with Full Nelson if I lived in Virginia. I need to quit being so reluctant to try all these “unacclaimed” beers out there in the world, because, as I just found out, many are quite nice.**
*Though I’d love to get my hand on some COAST stuff. Any one? Any one?
**Yankees in SIX! Book it.