Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bell's Neptune Review

Name: Bell's Neptune
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 9%

After a year of keeping up with this series, we've come to the final beer in the Bell's Brewing Planet Series, which takes its name from the Gustav Holst orchestral suite: The Planets.

We've come to Neptune: The Mystic & it's the beer that I've been looking forward to the most since I first heard about it last year. That's because the details about this beer were mum at best with the only information given that it was based on a recipe that Larry Bell used back when he was homebrewing. Well the specifics have finally been revealed about this beer and, great googly moogly, there are bunch of them.

The list of ingredients used in this beer (aside from hops, barley, yeast, and water) are as follows:

  • Star anise
  • Dried cayenne
  • Raisins
  • Dates
  • Black pepper
  • Hickory bark
  • Dandelion root
  • Nutmeg
  • Grains of paradise
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Cane Sugar
Is this a beer we're talking about here or a potion that you'd find in a wizard's lab? Then again, it is called a Mystical Stout by the brewery, so for all we know, there's a good chance that this may give me a pair of wings (not really.)

Appearance - Pitch black in color with no visible carbonation to speak of. The head is quite thin in appearance with dark brown hue and rather filmy retention. The lacing is also very sparse and almost nonexistent.

Aroma - Where do I begin? The molasses and raisin notes are front-in-center that are followed by some dark fruitness and oak notes. I'm also getting some light maple syrup notes with a bit of spiciness, some nutmeg and even a hint of black peppers. There are of course other scents in here but they're too close together to distinguish one from the other. All of this is supported by a solid chocolate malt backbone.

Taste - Rum raisin, maple syrup, and chocolate malts make up the front of the flavor, before giving away to molasses, nutmeg, and oakiness in the middle. That, in turn, is followed by some dates & cheyenne peppers.....which is followed by some more rum raisin & black peppers, some grassiness that tastes like the smell of a dandelion.....before finally rounding out with some roasted barley, chocolate sweetness and a bit of a peppery kick.

The amount of layers along with the sheer diversity in the overall flavor borderlines on being mindblowing. Like a Russian nesting doll, the flavors keep coming out of nowhere just when you think it's finished and then some after that. This is one of the most complex tasting Imperial Stouts I've ever had

I'm going to make an impassioned plea to Bell's Brewing here: I know you have tons of different styles of beer that you produce each year and I'm painfully aware that beers like Neptune are more of a niche than say Two Hearted. However if you can find it in your heart to bring this back in some way, shape, or capacity, you will have my eternal gratitude.

It is rare that I find a beer so perfect that it leaves a lasting impression on me and this is one of those beers. It makes it all the more unfortunate that this is a one time deal, because Neptune is a love letter to fans of the Imperial Stout style. I know it's unlikely that this beer will ever see the light of day again, so if you're able to find this, there is no question that you need to buy this. It is beers like Neptune that make the world of craft beer such a fun & interesting place.

Bell's Neptune - 10/10

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