6/13/21: Bell's Brewery, Inc.'s Light Hearted Ale

5:10 PM

Bell's Two Hearted Ale was the first IPA to ever hook me. It was the first offering of the style I'd had that didn't wallop me with loads of hops from the first swig onward. While I've since trained my brain to overlook that "wow, this is really bitter and probably poisonous" response and can get behind some super hoppy IPAs, there'll always be a special place in my heart for Two Hearted.

So, when I found out Bell's had Light Hearted, a lo-cal sister beer to Two Hearted, I hunted some down to try immediately. I recall being impressed. Yes, that means that this isn't a new-to-me entry in my ongoing lo-cal beer series. But, I do think it's been long enough since I had Light Hearted (I only ever bought that single sixer before grabbing today's can) that I'm heading into the ale with fresh enough taste buds. Let's see how my initial impression's held up.

You'll find Bell's "Our Story" page here. If you'd rather just read a quick bit about the brewery, I have you covered (if you don't need a summation of their history, just skip to the next paragraph). Larry Bell opened a homebrew supply shop way back in '83. Two years later, Larry brewed and sold his first commercial beer. The rest is history. Bell's is a household name in the craft beer world, and through informal research I've discovered most folk who stick to macro brews know Bell's, too. Larry and company really helped to pioneer the craft industry, and the Bell's team is right up there with Boston Beer in my opinion (although it seems Bell's is more open to experimentation than BBC).

Light Hearted's a 3.7% ABV IPA that clocks in at 110 calories. Bell's touts it as an easy-drinking beer with aromas of pine and citrus.

Let me tell you, the bouquet's all pine and citrus, in that exact order. As someone who can really get behind a piney IPA, I absolutely appreciate that Bell's leaned heavily into this. The citrus I get is mostly grapefruit and orange. I'm finding a bit of maltiness, but nothing that imparts any actual sweet notes to the ale. Purrl gave my can eight whiffs, meaning that she's also a fan of Light Hearted's nose; high praise from a cat historically adverse to IPAs.

This is a full-flavored ale. Nothing about what's in my can strikes me as a "low calorie" beer. Those hoppy notes from the aroma are present and accounted for--the finish is all deep pine flavor, which is something I adore in warm-weather brews. Digging through the hops, I find some more of that maltiness that made itself known, subtly, in the bouquet: There're honey-covered biscuits, a mild toffee, and toasted bread. Overall, this is a mighty fine tasting beer.

Bell's called this beer easy-drinking and damn if that isn't right. This is an IPA that drinks like a lager. Light, crisp, and entirely refreshing.

I first had, and first enjoyed, Two Hearted was on a rooftop bar in South Haven, MI. The night was winding down and I wasn't yet used to 7+% ABV beers. The beer was served to me in a clear plastic cup. I took a sip and knew immediately that I was about to have my last drink of the night. It was IPA (which I didn't like at the time), and I loved it. It was flavorful, it was refreshing. It was, and is, the best IPA I've ever had.

Light Hearted is all of that without the "closing down the night" quality.

Bell's has crafted something seemingly miraculous with this lo-cal IPA. Were I to judge Light Hearted Ale solely against other lo-cal beers, it'd get a 10/10. Judging it against all other beer, it gets a 9.0/10. This is a beer you need in your fridge. 

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