You know when you’re just sure that something is gonna be great and then it turns out more awful than you could have imagined? I’ve experienced this a few times in life. There was that gorgeous redhead that was great in small doses but just horrible after 10 minutes of conversation. Then there was the year the Brett Favre was signed by my beloved Jets and let his ego dash the team’s playoff chances (if your arm doesn’t work, ride the pine, glory hound). And now there’s Bell’s Cherry Stout, a beer that I was totally psyched for that was a real clunker.
Let me explain why my expectations were so high. First off, I’ve really enjoyed some of the beers that Bell’s makes, especially their Two Hearted Ale. So in my mind, Bell’s makes great beer. Then there was the New Glarus factor. You see, last year my buddy Kevin from Liquor Outlet gave me a taste of New Glarus’s Cherry Stout and it was awesome and sublime, like a cherry Tootsie Pop mated with a really nice stout. So I know how good a cherry stout can be. I reasoned that even if Bell’s Cherry Stout turned out to be different from the New Glarus effort, I was certain that I was in for a treat. Bells + Cherry Stout=Awesome was the equation I had in mind. Boy did I miscalculate!
I wont go into the specifics too deeply. In a nutshell, the nose was promising, but the beer tasted exactly like someone took a nice stout and poured in a few tablespoons of Vick’s cherry cough syrup. The medicinal flavor was so immediately identifiable, it totally put me off the beer during the first sip. I hung in there and tried to let it warm up to see if the richer flavors would emerge and balance out the cough syrup taste, but it did no good. It was absolutely overpowering to my palate.
The funny thing is the conditioned response it had on my brain. You see, I was coming off a bad bout of laryngitis when I had this beer, and I had recently been taking some cherry Sucrets to numb my throat. It had been a couple of days since I had had a lozenge, but the medicinal cherry taste in the beer was enough to trigger my lame brain into numbing my tongue, just like the Sucrets had. Talk about a placebo effect! It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I don’t have complete control of my faculties and this actually happened, but it also goes to show just how medicinal this beer tasted to me.
So there I was, with my nose curled up in a sneer, tongue numbed, and my high expectations totally dashed. It was a complete waste. I eventually gave up trying and poured it out, saddened by the fact that something so promising had gone so sideways for me.
On the bright side, it does make me appreciate what New Glarus has done with their cherry stout, the same way the redhead makes me appreciate just how cool my wife is and how Brett Favre makes me appreciate Rex Ryan. So I guess there’s that.
This beer and my underwhelming experience with Bell’s Oberon makes me think I need to downgrade these guys to “conditionally awesome” in my head, the same spot occupied by New Holland (their Dragon’s Milk is awesome and their other beers are hit or miss). I had them up there in “can’t miss” territory with Founders and Dogfish Head, but I guess that’s pretty rare air.