Monday December 8th, I had the pleasure of visiting the Saucer in Kansas City, MO. Matt Gardner, the local beer guru, had set up a Bell’s Beer and Food pairing to be hosted by Jim O’Connor. Jim has been with Bell’s for several years and had a good deal of information to share about the Brewery and its founder.
Bell’s Brewery is located in Kalamazoo, MI for those of you who don’t know their beers. The only Saucer on their radar for 2009 is Columbia, SC. Heads up gang – get some Two Hearted Ale on tap!
Bell’s is currently the 13th largest Craft Brewery in the USA. Larry Bell took over the former Kalamazoo Brewery and produced his first commercially sold brew in 1985. Before then, he had a homebrew supply shop. (He had been an avid homebrewer since Jimmy Carter lifted the federal restrictions forbidding homebrewing in 1978.) In the brewery’s tasting room, the Eccentric Cafe, one can sample the plethora of brews made on site. I wonder if they have any Hopslam?
The beers and the food:
Third Coast Old Ale – its actually an English-style barley wine brewed just as you’d imagine – deep hazy copper color with a big head and caramel malt flavors. This beer packs a punch and you can feel the heat – 10.3% abv. This one was paired with the Cotswold English Cheddar
We moved to the Porter with Smoked Gouda. The Gouda was a perfect match for this dark espresso colored beer. This porter is a solid example of the style with some roasty bitterness at the end.
Later we moved to the Kalamazoo Stout and Brie. Then, Jim paired the Double Cream Stout with d’affinois – wow – what a great combination. You must try this cheese. I’d never even heard of it before then. If you like soft cheeses, you will enjoy this pairing. The beer was certainly creamy with nice chocolate notes on the nose and in the flavor.
The Cherry Stout seemed to be the biggest hit with the audience. This rich and powerful stout is brewed with Montmorency Cherries that gives it a tart cherry aroma along with the chocolate and roasted malt characteristics of a typical stout. The cherry flavor was almost enough to make me pucker.
The final beer of the night was the Expedition Stout. This big beer is a Russian Imperial Stout and it is thick, almost black and produces a dense tan head. The aroma had chocolate, coffee, roasted or burnt malt along with noticeable smoke. The brewery calls this the vintage port of American Stout and it packs a punch at 10.5% abv. We had the Saucer’s Mud Island Lava Cake with Raspberry Lambic puree over vanilla bean ice cream. I think most stouts make a good dessert beer, but this one was mildly sinful.
I always knew that I liked Bell’s Brewery. My first experience was at the GABF several years back. I think their Two Hearted ale is perhaps one of the best IPA’s in America. Next time you are at the Saucer in KC, get some.