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Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's 25th Anniversary AleBell's 25th Anniversary Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

344 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 344
Hads: 503
Avg: 3.74
pDev: 15.24%
Wants: 20
Gots: 66 | FT: 5
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  8.50% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 07-28-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 344 | Hads: 503
Photo of BradLikesBrew
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tawny body, thin off white head.

Aromas of caramel, butterscotch, and cherries.

Malty, fruity, and spicy. Caramel/toffee/butterscotch malt sweetness, some orange/cherry fruit esters, a spicy/peppery note, then a bitter finish. Excellent balance if a tad shallow.

Just enough carboantion to prevent the full body from becoming overly sticky.

Nice beer. A flavorful, yet balanced strong ale. Avoids the overly hoppy style of most beers in this style.

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Photo of zoso1967
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to TCHopCraver for this treat!

Pours a clear, deep mahogany amber color with a very light tan head. The head is pretty diminutive and fades quickly, but it leaves decent lace.

The aroma is pretty signature strong ale. Rich caramel toffee, a touch of cherry and citrus hops mix with sweet bread and some alcoholic warmth.

The flavor is very similar with plenty of caramel, toffee, some cherry, a bit of pithy grapefruit and some breadiness. It is not quite as rich and flavorful as I had hoped for, though it does have a very slight toasty note that is quite enjoyable. I find the alcohol to be a bit better hidden in the flavor.

The mouthfeel is medium and a bit on the sticky side. Carbonation is really low and the malts seem to coat the mouth and then turn dry and tacky. Definitely not the greatest finish.

I think this is a good beer, but with so many great ones out there it does not quite stack up. When you get an anniversary beer you hope for something grand and this one was a bit of a let down.

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Photo of JayQue
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice!! Its been a while since I had a beer where the smell is 180 out from the taste.

Pours a reddish amber color (Celebration Ale color) with a frothy medium size off-white head (good retention) and thick ladder-like lacing.

Smell is strong hoppy goodness.

Taste is a surprise. A quick blast of piney hops followed by a strong bready, slightly sweet malt presence. Malts predominate from here on out. Overall, this is a good tasting beer.

Mouthfeel is rich and smooth with a bit of an alcohol burn towards the end.

Drinkability is good for a strong beer. The alcohol is not overpowering and the rich flavors are very inviting.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.66/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Tasted on 12-22
Still beautiful after 4 months. A bit of head with big bubbles
Smells of hops and lots of malts. A bit of bitter smell but pretty well balanced. Tastes very well balanced and has aged gracefully so far. Still nicely drinkable and has a good mouthfeel

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Photo of jpro
3.83/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass...

A: Slightly cloudy, golden copper, with a small, off-white head that leaves some sheets of lace.

S: Interesting... Canned pineapple syrup hoppiness, bread, some zesty hops, and a hint of alcohol. Kind of smells like pineapple upside-down cake.

T: Citrus hops, SWEET malts and a touch hot on the finish.

M: Light... almost thin; but, crisp.

D: Fairly drinkable, although its really sweet... an interesting beer.

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Photo of Sammy
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Champagne's Cellars. Medium golden body with lasting white fluffy head. When this clears, I get a nutty sweet aroma that carries on in the taste. A lovely balanced sweet strong ale, that is unique among American strong. The hops are in the secondary. Tremendous drinkability.

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Photo of jsh420
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

batch 9871

pours hazy orangish amber with a 2 finger head that left lacing all down the glass

smells like 2hearted with lots of malts - very floral and fruity and

taste - strong toasted caramel malts doing battle with floral hops - good amount of fruit flavors grapes orange little banana

mouthfeel - medium body with good carbonation

drinkability - while i enjoyed this beer a lot - the beer was over priced compared to others in the bells lineup

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Photo of alleykatking
3.28/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 12oz bottle.

A- Pours a cloudy golden orange color. One and a half finger tan head shows medium retention. Light web style lacing on the sides of the glass.

S- I picked up a lot of caramel malts in the front of this one. Some light darker fruits soaked in alcohol in the middle of the beer. Toasted malts in the ending of the beer gives way to no hop aroma which I expected. I think something is missing...just maybe??

T- Toasted malts seem to be the dominate favor in the front of the beer. Darker fruits soaked in some rum in the middle with loads of caramel malts. There is a light hop bite in the backing of this beer that seems to be a little off putting. I thought it would mellow out with a little age on it but sadly it didn't. There is a alcohol medicinal taste to the ending of the beer.

M- Medium mouthfeel. Carbonation is a little lacking but good for the beer. Toasted malts and light darker fruits stay on the palate. The aftetaste is alcohol heat along with lots of caramel malts and darker fruit. Medium alcohol drying on the palate. Flavors seemed a little off putting at times and it was blended more toward a Old Ale more than anything else.

D- This beer is drinkable but a little average at best. The flavors were a little off putting at times but when it was colder it was a little more personalable. The ABV doesn't really help this beer at all but I wish I could say more about this beer than just average.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.03/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Chilled bottle into a glass. A generous extra from boatshoes. Thanks, Fletcher!

A: Pours a hazy orange-amber body topped with a light beige head. The dense bubbles fall in sections and leave some lace as they do.

S: Barleywine-strength caramel, toffee, nuts, grapefruit. A strong, pungent aroma.

T: This tastes like purple. That was my first thought. Then I realized I was thinking of the grape lollipops I used to eat as a kid. It has that same artificial grape flavor. Caramel, toffee. A spicy rye bite. Grapefruit hops that seem to have faded or lost their intensity; there's a staleness to this that I don't care for.

M: Medium body. Good carbonation. A clean finish, though there is some booze to it (not something forgivable at less than 9%).

D: I was pretty unenthusiastic about this one. It was nice for a while, but halfway through I lost interest.

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Photo of ToddT
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- Deep orange amber topped with a fluffy off white head. Head is sticky and leaves some nice lace on the glass.

S- Caramel malt, pine and grapefruit hops. The nose has a nice balance to it.

T- Very nicely balanced from the first sip caramel and hops fight to control. Eventually the hops win and the finish is a final lingering bitter note of grapefruit hops.

M- Medium in body and decent carbonation, finish is clean with little hop oil residue.

D- Very drinkable, might be a little much for the hop shy out there but not overpowering. The 8.5% ABV is not readily apparent either.

What a great beer to celebrate Bell's 25 anniversary with, here's to many more years.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.05/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cheers to 25 years of Bell's! Pours into my glass a great deep red hue with an inch of creamy khaki foam on top of the brew. Light lacing on the glass. Aromas start off with dense malts featuring caramel and nuttiness. There's a sweet fruity backbone to the beer with a nice dose of citric, pine laced hops as well.

First sip brings big malts upfront with caramel, toffee, nuts and a fruity underbelly. Green citrusy hops meld in as it flows down with a touch of pine. Touch of spiciness on the finish as the bitterness and sweetness do battle. Tasty brew.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation. Makes itself known on the palate while still maintaining easy drinkability for the abv. Overall, a solid strong ale / double red. Everyone wants something crazy for the anniversary brew, but I'm enjoying this one.

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Photo of TKEbeerman
3.95/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured into my pint glass, this brew pours a golden orange with a fluffy tan head. The head looks impressive, but the body isn't quite up to par.

S: The aroma is heavy in caramel malt, notes of bruised apples and dark fruit, and toasted malt. The toastyness is throwing off the aroma, otherwise this is a solid beer.

T: The flavor is less toasty, but is still loaded with dark fruit notes and heavy caramel malt. This ASA leans towards the Old Ale notes that you find in this style. Heavy in the malt, the hops seem a bit more attenuated then what the brewer originally intended. There is a slight boozyness to this brew that is in no way offensive.

MF: The mouthfeel is a solid medium, and is lacking in carbonation.

D: Drinkability is good.

Overall, this is a good beer from Bells. This is the second of the 6 pack that I bought, and it's weird how I feel the first one was better. Still, an excellent beer for a Silver Anniversary. Cheers to 25 more!

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Photo of r3o
4.2/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: deep amber color, reddish. The head's about 1/2 inch and lingers. Minimal lace.
S: malt mostly, it's sweet, like brown sugar
T: a little sweet at first, with a long after taste, got a little of cherry, but mostly a caramel flavor
M: a little chewy, creamy, mild carbonation
D: could definitely have it again, overall a very good experience.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.13/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Got this on a recent trip to Florida. Glad to try it. 12oz bottle...

A: A deep copper color with some ruby hues blended in. A small tan head that fades at a decent pace to a lace atop the brew. Good.

S: A sweet malt blended with some bready rye. Some hints of toffee in the middle with some faint caramel on the backend. Very mild hop hidden in there. Decent.

T: Hint of a bready boozy bite upfront with a quick metallic salty taste quickly following. Some faint cherry in the middle with a very, very faint tartness hidden on the back. A strange blend of flavors. Eh.

M: Medium body with an ok carbonation. A boozy bite finish. Decent.

D: Once you get past the strange flavors, this goes down. Decent.

All in all, this is definitely not something you should brew for a 25th anniversary. You would think after 25 years that they could come up with something more balanced and unique to offer. This just has a strange metallic salty taste to it. Don't bother with this one, even if you like Bell's. Not their best work. Need a 2 Hearted to wash this gunk down.

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Photo of Metalmonk
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Well, it's the sixth bottle of a 6-pack that I had unrealistically high hopes for. I've had a wide variety of thoughts about this beer while working through the previous 5 bottles the past several weeks. This is the final bottle of the six, and with it I tell this tale...

It looks good. A reddish-copper color, something about it sort of candy-like, in its glossy, jeweled hard-candy appearance. The head is dirty while and fairly creamy, and while it's not huge, it sticks and stays.

At 8.5%, and considering the style, you'd think this would have even a little alcohol in the nose, but no, it's just pure malt/hop teamwork, with the malt taking the lead. Musty, toffee-like, even tea-like, it recalls a mutated Scotch ale, but the grassy hops brings it back to the states. A candy-like sweetness works its way in, reminding of various Belgian strong darks, so this is clearly a true American strong ale in its true "catch-all" meaning. And that's just the nose I'm talking about.

Brown sugar, caramel and a strange green grass astringency fight it out on the tongue. Watery herbal tea, toffee, mild alcohol warmth and extremely faint smoke tuck in under the main level. Burnt sugar, toffee and molasses work into the finish, where the grassy, strained hops character continues to lurk. The feel is a compromise between fizzy, bubbly carbonation, buoyant slickness and a smooth, round creaminess. As with the flavor, it performs well but never totally stuns like I want it to.

All in all, this beer pushes enough buttons to make me look forward to each sip, yet falls a little short of expectation considering 1) the brewery, 2) the style, and 3) the occasion. Thanks to a very well-incorporated 8.5%, it remains enjoyable and drinkable, despite weak spots. I wanted so much more from this--Bell's is one of my favorite breweries--but it's probably only disappointing due to my impossibly high expectations. C'est la vie...

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3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle to tulip. Batch #9871. The label is formidable with silver text on a metallic grey backdrop.

A: Less than 2 fingers of head, very light brown in color, creamy in texture and long lasting. As the head recedes, most of it catches hold of the glass, coating it in sheets. With eighty percent transparency, the body is medium dark amber at it's core with crimson hints as it thins out towards the glass's edge.

S: Dark malts of toasted caramel and toffee compliment the intense hop aromatics of pine and resin. The 25th Anniversary Ale has a light yeasty component balancing leafiness with a damp earthiness. The dry hopping comes across very fresh at this beers young state. The hop aroma mixes well with pure, clean and very appropriate notes of alcohol.

T: The taste coincides with the nose, but is marginally less impressive. There is an added wood component making this brew reminiscent of a wood aged DIPA mixed with a strong ale and barleywine.

M: The texture is creamy and viscous. Lightly sweet. I can appreciate the mild level of carbonation since this brew goes down as smooth as can be. Nonetheless, for an American Strong Ale, I find the overall mouthfeel to be average.

D: Excellent sipper. Good drinkability.

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Photo of siradmiralnelson
3.97/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into SABL glass.

A. Poured a 2 finger head. Fairly large bubbles. Good retention. Ok lacing. Color is a orangeish brown.

S. Smell is a nice sweet toffee smell. Caramel, maybe a little brown sugar. Really nice mix of sweet malt smells. A bit of hop bitterness lingers beneath everything. I like the smell of this beer.

T. Taste is prett good too. Kind of hard to describe. Toffee, a little vanilla, caramel. Tastes like a Bells beer, which must come from the same strain of yeast. The hop bitterness comes through towards the end, not much hop flavor but the bitterness is there.

M. Medium bodied. Medium/low carbonation. Finishes with a bit of sweetness, but pretty dry.

D. Drinkable. This goes down pretty easy for 8.5%. The more Bells beers I have the more I think I enjoy their yeast strain. I am not certain that it is the same in every beer, but there seems to be an underlying flavor profile in many of the Bells beers, and my guess is the yeast. Overall this is a good solid beer to celebrate 25 years!

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Photo of beerphan
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle -> american pint

Pours a clear bright oranged amber with a one inch head that hangs around for the whole beer and deposits random splotches of chalky lace. Carbonation appears persistent as well as abundant.

Nose: Citric hoppiness, some booze and some sweet caramel

Medium body slides down well. Sweet candied caramel and toffee notes give this beer a great base on which to stand. Hops creep in with a quick punch of floral and citrus deliciousness. The bitterness tries all its might to balance out the malts, alas, its a losing battle. Finishes on the malty side with creamy toffee tones mingling with bitter rind, as well as a little booze. The alcohol gives a welcome warming effect on the first day of December, and da 'Burghs first snow.

Bells does it again. A well hopped American Strong Ale, that teases the border between ASA and DIPA/barleywine. I vote hells yeah!

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Photo of nickfl
4.22/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of off-white foam on top of a perfectly clear, amber-brown body. The head recedes rapidly and leaves moderate lace in its wake.

S - Rich, brown malt with lots of caramel and biscuit notes. Some pine hops and a little bit of fruity ale yeast.

T - Toasty, bready malt up front with lots of rich toffee flavor. Hop notes begin to come out in the middle with a peppery, mustardy character that blends well with the toasted malt character. The malt remains rich and sweet in the finish with lots of toffee character and moderate hop bitterness.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a somewhat sweet finish.

D - Excellent, this beer is full of rich malt and spicy, resinous hops. The malt is dark enough to have toffee, toast, and caramel character, but it is also sweet enough to keep these flavors from becoming acrid and cloying as they too often are in dryer brown beers. The hops are spicy with a pepper and mustard character that is common in the best beers of this type. Well balanced and very drinkable, this is an appropriate beer to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a great brewery.

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Photo of number1bum
3.3/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a very nice ruby, dark copper sort of color with about two fingers of creamy beige head. Keeps a nice full lace and coats the glass quite nicely as well.

Smell has a caramel sweetness to it with some buttery toffee notes as well. It's also somewhat bready with a subtle grainy, slightly toasted aroma. Also has a floral hoppiness with a bit of pine. Smells quite a bit like a barleywine.

Taste is initially rather bitter in a somewhat offputting way, with a grainy, tannin sort of astringency as well. It settles out from there with some caramel sweetness and a husky, grainy breadiness. The tannins never completely go away which I think is the predominant flavor that I am not wild about. Certainly the hop bitterness doesn't bother me, although the hop flavors are awfully subtle - some pine and earthy flavors primarily. At the end of the day the tannin-induced astringency really brings this down a notch.

Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied and pretty smooth, although the previously mentioned astringency hurts the feel as it did the taste. Finishes quite bitter.

This started out promising but unfortunately it fell a bit flat once it hit the tastebuds. Something just didn't turn out quite right here, as the bitter, astringent tannins really detract from what otherwise would have been a nice, subtly sweet, warming sort of sipper. For such a great brewery I am disappointed that they did not do better with such a milestone beer.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.36/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into large snifter glass

Pours a very nice cherry auburn with a decent head. Frothed film retains well, leaving rings of lacing on the glass.

Plenty of caramel and dark fruit sweetness in the nose with crispy malt and some citrus hops.

Hop bitterness right up front alongside pine and lighter citrus tendencies. Sweetness slices through, almost unexpectedly, with figs and raisins. Hints of molasses and caramel are evident. Alcohol warms the palate towards the end, along with more piny hops and some lingering fruit.

Medium bodied, but very chewy, and a little dry. Drinks okay, but I just don't know about this one. I love Bells, but this is my third time trying this beer and I cannot get into it. The sweetness feels a little off, and I was expecting a better hop profile.

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Photo of tmcelvain
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My overwheliming impression of Bell's 25th Anniversary is candy. Not sure quite which candy flavor, but this well-balanced ale tastes strongly of the same sugar flavor that a child's sucker displays. good carbonation, drinkability, and mouthfeel. This is a big, bright, refreshing beer that keeps your palate on its toes. Reccommeded.

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Photo of KidsDoc
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into Unibroue tulip

A: opaque burnt orange/brown. Thin lacy 1/2 finger white head that recededs immediately with stickly lacing down the glass

S; intial hops very brief that faded and never returned to the nose throughout the tasting. The dominant aroma, albeit faint was a sweet, bready malt but again not well developed

T: follow suit with the nose in that hops were absent and surpisingly so. The sweet malt carried through the middle and end and was tasty. This beer was not hot at all - very well hidden/blended 8.5% abv

M: best quality of this brew. Medium to full bodied and not at all watery. Minimal carbonation.

D: for an 8.5% it limits me to 1-2. However, this is smooth drinking beer that though not overwhelming in aroma had a solid malt backbone that I enjoyed and would drink again.

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Photo of brentk56
4/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear amber color with a rocky head that fades rather quickly though it leaves some webbing behind

Smell: Caramel sweetness with fig elements and offsetting pith

Taste: Caramel and fig, up front, provide an interesting interplay, with a developing pithy hop flavor that holds the sweetness in check; after the swallow, the malt forward elements resume their supremacy, though the beer never becomes cloying

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Lots of complex flavors in this brew; a bit of a style bender that has elements of Winter Warmers, Barleywines and Strong Ales

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Photo of montecristo2
3.96/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served from a bottle at Fireworks Pizza in Leesburg, Va. in a pint glass.

Pours a dark mahogany, sort of like a lighter brown ale. Clear, two finger head that dissipates to a light lacing on the sides of the glass.

No discernible aromas from the beer upon the initial pour.

Taste surprised me quite a bit. I was expecting a hoppy flavor, typical of Bell's beers. Instead, what I got was honey and a strong malt presence. Very flavorful, smooth and drinkable. Very refreshing and smooth for an american style Barley wine.

At 8.5%, probably a beer I would only have one-I enjoyed this at the end of the meal after having two Two Hearted ales. A nice meal, a great finish!

I bought a few to put into storage. Definitely worth a try. Bell's is still one of my all time favorite breweries!


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Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
84 out of 100 based on 344 ratings.