Bell’s Light Hearted Ale
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale
Ale / Bell's Low / 3.7%
Bell’s Light Hearted™ is aromatic, balanced, and incredibly easy-drinking. Centennial and Galaxy hops result in citrus and pine aromas, while a variety of specialty malts help give Light Hearted its body and flavor.
While there has been an increase in demand for non-alcoholic beers in recent years, there is also a new group of people interested in enjoying brews that have a lower calorie count while not eliminating alcohol altogether. Many of the larger craft breweries across the country have decided to offer up low-ABV, low-calorie options for these individuals, and some of them have just as much flavor and complexity as their boozy brethren.
Bell’s has made a name for themselves out of Comstock, Michigan, with popular offerings like their Two Hearted Ale, an American IPA that comes in at seven percent alcohol and 212 calories. In a twist on that flagship brew, they are now serving up their Light Hearted Ale, which nearly halves both of those numbers, tallying just 110 calories per serving and 3.7 percent ABV.
Some people may question the appeal of drinking an IPA such as this that delivers less of a buzz that many domestic light beers. But when the summer heat rolls around and you need something refreshing to sip throughout a cookout without getting too rowdy (or suffering the nasty aftereffects), a drinkable citrus-y ale will help you mind your manners. As a fan of Bell’s, I was excited to dig into this easier drinking option and see if it is something that I might turn to in those types of situations. Continue reading my Bell’s Light Hearted Ale review to find out how it measures up.
Is Bell’s Light Hearted Ale Good?
The aesthetic that Bell’s goes with has always been distinctly midwestern, with a label that features the head of a trout and the color palette of a setting sun over a pine forest. The packaging and the label don’t provide much more information, aside from the fact that the brewery has remained 100 percent family-owned despite all of their success.
Poured into a pint glass, this beer appears a beautiful golden hue with a fair amount of opaque haze. Carbonation visibly rises from the bottom to form a generous foamy head that retains itself for a long time and provides considerable lacing around the edges. This appearance is the first, but definitely not the last, characteristic that evokes visions of a stronger NE IPA that you see so often in craft brewing these days.
I don’t think you’d be a fool to expect a beer of this sort to contain some of these characteristics but in a toned down fashion. After all, the name and the package present themselves as just that, a toned down version of their mainstay IPA. But that is not what you find when you crack the can open.
The aroma is full as well. I would say there is a stronger than average scent of grassy hops, with an underlying note of citrus, namely grapefruit. The hoppiness has some light floral tint to it, and there is also some malty caramel sweetness present. None of this is subtle. It is a potent but not overwhelming aroma profile.
So far there is nothing to signify that this brew doesn’t pack all of the punch and complex characteristics of a higher-ABV IPA. But only upon tasting will we be able to answer the question that matters, “Is Bell’s Light Hearted Ale good?”
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale Review
After taking in the scent, it was pretty easy to predict what would be coming from the tasting, and there weren’t too many surprises there. The nose followed the tongue quite uniformly. The sweet caramel malt is what comes through upfront, with the hops moving in later on.
Honestly, just like the appearance and the aroma, the flavor does nothing to tip off the fact that this beer is low in both calories and alcohol content. It doesn’t seem watered down by any means and isn’t even particularly smooth. While that could be a knock against it, I also could have seen it going too far in that direction, making the the lower ABV too evident. But to their credit, this isn’t the case.
It has a full flavor, with that grapefruit citrus breaking through later in the tasting process, along with all of the grassy, floral hop character. I wouldn’t call it overly bitter, but that hoppiness does tend to linger for awhile, which results in the brew not having the cleanest finish.
The mouthfeel is good, if not a shade over medium. Again, I feel like a broken record, but I’m pleased by how nothing about this beer reminds me that it is lighter and healthier. Not that those are bad things, but when they become too apparent is when I find it difficult to fully embrace the tasting experience.
Coming up with a Bell’s Light Hearted Ale rating should be easier than doing so with non-alcoholic beer, as there is not much of a curve to grade on, and in fact, this brew asks for no curve at all with how closely it resembles a standard IPA.
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale Rating
While I have raved about how this beer has all of the fullness to compare favorably with Bell’s Two Hearted and any number of other higher-ABV pale ales, I will note that it’s not perfect by any means. To me, it’s lacking any crispness, and the lingering hoppiness loses all of the caramel and citrus notes that are most enjoyable. The appearance and the aroma, however, are above average, and that grassy, floral character is something that I savor when it comes in the right dose. In this instance, the balance seems just slightly off, which might make it difficult to down too many of these over the course of a day. But they could absolutely be a worthy stand-in when you need to alternate between the boozier options.
The punch of the nose is what surprised me most, and then everything seemed to follow quite nicely from there, rounding out a very solid IPA that won’t sit too heavy in your gut. If you are trying to cut back in the calorie or alcohol departments, I think this is a great option that will quickly make you forget that it’s light in anything. I’m ending this Bell’s Light Hearted Ale review by awarding it 4 out of 5 stars.
Photos credit: http://www.bellsbeer.com/