Its that time a year again, where us beer buyers struggle to make room on our shelves and stacks for the numerous winter and Christmas seasonals. Leading the pack is Bell’s Brewery, who offers a ridiculous number of beers for the winter months only. Last year we saw Third Coast Old Ale, Double Cream Stout, Winter White, Best Brown, and Expedition Stout. These all preceded the highly anticipated HopSlam. In addition to the latter beers, this year Bell’s is giving us Illinoisans their Christmas Ale, Sparkling Ale, Rye Stout, and Java Stout, something we haven’t seen since Bell’s pulled out of the market years ago. The Christmas Ale is hitting stores this week, and is highly allocated. Sparkling Ale is due to hit stores next week and rumor has it that it will be even scarcer than the Christmas Ale.
Bell’s is also offering something brand new for the holiday season. John Mallett from Bell’s teamed up with De Proef Brewery of Belgium to create a beer called Van Twee. It is a cherry beer, which admittedly made some of us a bit leery. We quickly came to realize that Van Twee was not just about the sour and tart cherries (which were apparent, but more subtle than anyone expected.) There is a big dose of roasted malt leading into milk chocolate flavors. Hints or tobacco, caramel, hops, and dark fruits coincide with a Belgian funk. Van Twee is quite complex for a self proclaimed cherry beer.
Many of us were surprised that Van Twee even made it to our shelves, and this speaks to its availability. Once this one time release is gone, it will more than likely be retired and never brewed again. We leave you with this question, which is actually more of a challenge: Will anyone be drinking each and every Bell’s winter seasonal this year?