May 29, 2013

Bell’s Smitten Golden Rye Ale

This year, one of Larry Bell’s oldest recipes has been revamped in the form of a new seasonal release. Smitten Golden Rye Ale is a 6% ABV brew that is spot on flavor-wise for the months of Spring. Combining the piney and citrusy nature of Pacific Northwest hops (variety unknown) with a lightly spicy and earthy rye, the brewery has crafted a wonderfully balanced and thoroughly refreshing brew.

The question however isn’t so much about what hops were used to bring out the moderate bitterness or the citrusy character. It’s more so about the yeast strain the brewery may have used to ferment the beer. Is it really that to drive a pale ale or is it of Belgian origin as the beer has a fairly distinct saison-like character. Regardless, Smitten is a bright and tasty excuse to sit out on the deck and relax.


A billowy white crown of foam fell slowly atop the golden amber brew. There’s a good amount of yeasty sediment floating around within the glass. See my tweet below from this tasting:


Overall, the beer has a fairly light nose that reminds of a saison. It’s not overly funky by any means, but the subtle rye, hints of citrus, soft bready malt and yeast give it the character of a saison.


Grains, indistinguishable citrus, light pine and lightly spicy rye all come together for a well balanced flavor profile. The hops bring a decent amount of bitterness that is present throughout the beer, bleeding nicely into the drying finish. The carbonation is crisp and acts to sharpen the hop presence and refreshing nature of the beer.


This is an interesting brew. The combination of lightly toasted malt, rye, hops and yeast make for a flavor and aroma that is faintly saison-like. It doesn’t affect what this beer is ultimately labeled, whether that’s a pale ale, rye ale or saison. I just find the trait to be intriguing. Enough so that I wouldn’t mind sitting back with a few more of these this weekend.

Rating: 3.5/5

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