As a word of warning, I have not always been the biggest of IPA drinkers. Over the past year or so I have gravitated towards dark beers with a saison, tripel or two sprinkled in, but with my shift further north I have decided to expand my palate a bit and give the bitter side of the family a solid few months of effort. That being said, Bell's Two Hearted Ale may be my favorite IPA of my limited experience. Its very floral hop forward with a strong citrus and malt backbone. One thing that seems to be common practice in the American IPA style is the introduction of bittering agents. Two Hearted is much less bitter than something with such a strong hop infused flavor, evenly balanced with a bit more of a malt base than I have tasted in others. It also sports a huge, almost champagne level carbonation which helps to usher in that freshness factor IPA drinkers cherish so much. The floral and citrus aromas that stand front and center are due to a Centennial hop mixture. Though Centennial is more known for a pine characteristic, it can exhibit floral when boiled for shorter amounts of time. For those unfamiliar, each type of hop has both a smell and flavor that guides a beer's path down the bitter stream. Some liken flavors to aspirin or ear wax (hey i'm just repeating, not judging), but in the right balance hops provide a very unique drinking experience that I liken to the dryness of a wine or champagne. There's a little tropical fruit in there, sticky sweet & acidic. Maybe mango? I think this is because of Bell's house yeast. Yes, Bell's has their own strain of yeast that provides a signature smell and taste. Deceptively pungent in the sensory department, and almost saison-esque with the amount of flavor this little number packs in.
With a solid 7% ABV and not many places to hide, there is a nice alcoholic warming in your throat once the beer hits your belly. Wait for a second after the swallow and it creeps in. Did I mention I love this IPA? It makes each bottle an adventure by heavily engaging your senses instead of hinting at stimuli. Seriously, between this and Ten Fidy there isn't much room in my "favorite unhyped not-limited beers" club. I didn't have to fight to find some and the price is right on target. Don't take forever to get around to sampling this beauty like I did. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.