Thursday's review presented me with my first ever trip to the malt-and-hops mecca of the southside, Shallo's. There are some pretty impressive beer selections in Indy, but Shallo's is the largest selection by far. To top off the experience, we were joined by Jim Schembre, World Class Beverages guru extraordinaire. For those not in the know, WCB is the red-headed step child of Monarch Beverages, a large distributor of large beers. WCB's mission: to preach the word of good beer. And while Indiana, as a whole, has a long way to go, Jim and his crew have done a pretty good job so far. Just consider the beer selection at Indy area restaurants, bars, and liquor stores.
Before we get to the heart of the matter, I want to mention something. While talking to Jim, and getting a sampling of his vast beer knowledge, he mentioned that they have a resident Beer Geek and that, in fact, "Beer Geek" is trademarked. "Beer Geek" is trademarked? That can't be right. But a quick check of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website shows that it is true: "Beer Geek", trademarked by Vision Concepts LLC, which just so happens to share an address with Monarch Beverages.
So what's a Hoosier Beer Geek to do? We haven't been told to cease and desist, but just in case, we better get our house in order. We could argue that "Hoosier Beer Geek" is completely different from "Beer Geek". Will that hold? We'll have to ask our resident HBG attorney. If not, we may need to search out a new name. One that doesn't infringe on anybody. My suggestion:
The Brew Man Group
Nope, no intellectual infringements there.
Okay, now to the serious business.
Like my comrade Jim, I too started with Brooklyn's Winter Ale, which was on special that night. I found it to be tasty and simple, not overly wintry with the usual hints of pine and juniper and all that crap. Nope, just straight forward.
I finished the night with a Hoppin' Frog Hoppin' to Heaven IPA. The brewery is new to me. It was at Jim's suggestion, who mentioned that they just delivered a bunch of Hoppin' Frogs to Shallo's. It's a surprisingly sweet IPA that doesn't pack the spicy punch that I come to expect from IPA's. Probably a good starter for those new to IPA's.
The beer of the evening, though, was Bell's Hell Hath No Fury. A beer brewed and released in October, meaning it is at the end of its availability cycle. So if you like what you see, you probably won't be able to get it for very long. We're big teases like that.
HHNF is classified as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. And dark it is. Its color is comparable to the dark sludge found in the bottom of a coffee urn after a long day of use. I mean it is dark. And it pours with a thin, dark tan head.
I had a hard time defining the aroma. I think there were plenty of roasted malt scents, like coffee, chocolate, caramel, and the like. Also a bit of a citrus hint. So, in a way, it smelled like a chocolate-covered orange.
The taste certainly continued. Bittersweet. With a little bit of spice. And I found some clove after the beer is swallowed. Not overwhelming, like clove often is, but it is there.
I was surprised with how creamy smooth it was, making it easy to swallow. Makes me think of a nice porter. Which, at 7.7% ABV, could make for a dangerous situation should you drink too much, which would be easy to do.
I am assigning a four mug rating to this based on the fact that I gave another Belgian Strong Dark Ale (Unibroue's Trois Pistoles) a 3.5 mug rating, and if memory serves me correctly, I liked Hell Hath No Fury more than Trois Pistoles.
Of course, that review was way back in November. I suppose I should try Trois Pistoles again to verify my statement. What kind of Hoosier Beer Geek would I be if I didn't pay due diligence?