1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

488 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 488
Reviews: 343
rAvg: 3.75
pDev: 12.53%
Wants: 20
Gots: 69 | 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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: mcallister on 07-28-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 488 | Reviews: 343 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nkersten
3.2/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark orange/reddish color with a bubbly quarter inch off white head. Smell is dominated by a combination of fruity tropical hops and sweet mats. Almost like a barleywine. Not used to this much hops in a strong ale. Taste is slightly metallic and boozy up front with caramel malts, some bitter tropical hops in the finish. Body is medium, sweet and slightly coating. Moderate carbonation helps finish clean. Drinkability is ok, but the metallic taste throws me off a little. This "catch all" category is hard to rate, but there is something I am not crazy about in this brew - not one particular category in particular, but whatever it is makes me glad i bought this by the bottle rather then a 6 pack.

nkersten, Oct 21, 2010
Photo of DoctorDog
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Thanks to Franz4 for snagging this and passing it along.

A- Deep copper / amber, and very slightly hazy. Pours with >1 finger of tan head, which fades quickly to a thin island of bubbles.

S- Piney/citrusy hops are fairly bright upon pouring, but mostly fade away with the head. Sweet malty notes emerge, with a distinctly dark fruit bent.

T- Somewhat unusual melange of fruity, caramel malt sweetness emeshed with floral/piney hop flavors. Fairly solid hop bitterness- maybe a touch too assertive for my tastes in this mix/style- and moderate sweetness. Alcohol notes are well hidden for a brew of this weight. The mix of flavors became more enjoyable as the brew was consumed.

M- Moderate to slightly low carbonation with a medium feel.

D- Good. An all around interesting and enjoyable brew that is an easy drinker for it's 8.5% ABV.

Future outlook: Really solid offering that I am happy to have gotten the opportunity to try....however, seeing as how it was brewed only once, I suppose there will be no future encounters with this beer.

DoctorDog, Oct 20, 2010
Photo of ebby82
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lovely mahogany into a snifter. A one finger head dissipates quickly. The smell is of a bit of hops, but mostly a thick, malty aroma. The taste has a trace of hops, and a definitely boozy aftertaste. It tastes similar to many barleywines I have had.

The mouth feel is average, and due to it's high alcohol content, as well as the boozy feel of it, it is definitely not a gulping beer.
A good beer, but a sipper for sure.

ebby82, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of Brent
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've never been too clear on where the American strong ale and barleywine categories divide, but this certainly struck me as a member of the barleywine family. Dense, a bit syrupy with assertive bittersweet malt presence. Dark dried orchard fruits predominate the flavor profile. ETOH is a little pungent at the finish. A little on the heavy-handed side.

Brent, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of Pellinore1
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice amber color, with about an inch of head that dissipates quickly.

Smells of fruity hops, with a bit of toffee-like sweetness.

This beer tastes very much like it smells. The hops are up front, but not overly aggressive. There is some fruity, toffee sweetness in the back, and just a bit of noticeable alcohol.

A bit thick in the mouth, but not at all bad. Quite drinkable for its strength.

I would probably describe this as a barleywine, but strong ale works as well. I'll be sitting on my other bottles for a while, and have a feeling that age will serve this beer well.

Pellinore1, Oct 19, 2010
Photo of TheHoppiest
4.1/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Is an amber-brown color with a thin, creamy head.

Smell is strong, with grape, currant, alcohol, yeast, and a bit of leafy-oak. Very earthy in aroma.

Taste is complex; starts with a buttery resin feel/taste, qiuckly becomes bitter and leafy, all the while with an underlying woodiness. Behind these tastes there's a caramel malt trying to peak through, lending a sweet taste toward the finish.

Medium to thick in the mouth, and warm down the throat, this beer has a pleasant mouthfeel.

I bought this as a singleton, but would love to try this again, perhaps after a bit of aging.

TheHoppiest, Oct 17, 2010
Photo of maximum12
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a tough con to run down in the Twin Cities, & it took a while to finally have a six-pack in hand (from a generic, municipal liquor store of all places). Time for it to stop gathering dust & start pleasing me.

Pour is beautiful. If sterling silver turned into a translucent, clear red, it would look like this beer. Smell is pleasing...& borders on the undefinable. Very fruity, watermelon sweet. I like it, but it's completely unexpected.

Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale is akin to no beer I've tasted before, & maybe unrelated to one I'll taste again. No one taste is dominant. The first one that I notice is the gentle hops, obviously lobotimized, but bearing flowers & wearing a citrusy perfume. The fruitiness reasserts itself quickly, still watermelony, very sweet. Malts are distinct on the downslope. Sticky, sweet, coating, with a dose of alcohol. This feels more like a barleywine than anything else, but defies categorization on my tongue. The fruit plate throws my palate loopy every time I try to dive in for another look-see.

Not really sure how to judge this. Good, but very odd. At the very least, salut to Bell's for 25 years of great beer & taking a risk with this one!

maximum12, Oct 17, 2010
Photo of Bung
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. A clear amber pour with maybe a finger of whitish head. Laces ok.

Aroma has some malt and toffee, but about equal parts resiney hops and citrus hops.

Malty up front, toffee, caramel covered apple.
Quite a bit of leather, tobacco, peat. Finishes with a nice bitterness tobacco and piney hops.

Lively medium body, both tickles and coats the mouth pretty well. Maybe just a bit warming, but the abv is not very present.

An imperial red ale I guess? Not the best from Bells, but not bad either.

Bung, Oct 17, 2010
Photo of dfillius
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass
A: Aggressive pour yields 3/4 finger tan head with good retention. Crystal clear amber liquid is fairly good looking. Nothing stellar in appearance though. Kind of pale for style too.

S: Very hoppy with some chocolatey-biscuit underneath. Tropical fruit esters, black licorice - every sniff is different. Now it's all strong ale at the end.

T: Sweet and bready. Caramel, dark fruit, slight stomach acid aftertaste (grapefruit hoppiness?) Balanced and mellow for an ASA. Finishes with a peaty stomach acidity, odd. Positive despite stomach acid flavor.

M: Smooth, sweet, a tad bitter. Not warm at all, a good thing.

D: Pretty good for a strong ale. One of the best and most balanced perhaps. I'd probably not buy a six pack, but might order again. Tasty overall.

dfillius, Oct 16, 2010
Photo of sweethome
3.88/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is hazy dark tan or gold. Nice lacing. Sweet nose of carmel malts, pineapple, dried fruits.

Nice full mouthfeel, generous entry, big and flavorful. Mid-mouth, this beer drops quickly - kind of disappears. Then builds back at the end with nice balance. In some ways, this reminds of a muted barleywine. A big beer, not overhwelming, but big, flavorful and warming.

sweethome, Oct 16, 2010
Photo of whoneeds8
3.3/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Recieved from both biglobo8971 and Desaparecido for winning the Sunday Night Football Squares LIF week 4. Thanks again guys, I'm enjoying one getting ready for Game 1 of the ALCS, Go Rangers!!!

Poured into a New Belgium glass golden amber color with a one finger white froathy head. Decent lacing. It's the Fall, so I can't smell much because of allergies. The flavor is rather interesting. I'm not sure how to describe it. It's just odd. There is a strange fruity bitterness up front that ends in a leathery flavor. The mouthfeel isn't anything great but nothing terrible.

This is an odd brew and I think I'm going to let the 2nd bottle I got age for a few years. Maybe some of its bitterness will fade.

whoneeds8, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of civilizedpsycho
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured bottle into pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a pretty clear amber color that has a full, light tan colored head.

Smell: Has a very strong malt aroma that is sweet and slightly fruity. Quite appealing.

Taste: Slightly bitter from the roasted malt, but not much hop presence, making for a very smooth finish. It almost reminds me of a scotch ale.

Mouthfeel: A little thin given the appearance. I expected a little bit more.

Drinkability: The only thing that brings this down for me is the high alcohol content. However, I could still drink a couple of these in one evening.

civilizedpsycho, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of ktrillionaire
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - The beer pours quite dark, a sort of reddish ebony hue. The head is tan and frothy, and leaves a bit of lace.

S - The aroma is buttery, slightly toasty, and has a tinge of finished leather smell. I don't really dig it.

T - The flavor is unusual, certainly, featuring abstractions of tastes like Fruit Loops, Starburst candies, and, again, a leathery impression. It is much more interesting and enjoyable in the gustatory sense than it is for the olfactory.

M - Feels a bit sticky, and that doesn't help things at all. The carbonation is a bit aggressive too.

D - Wow this is a bizarre brew; it has nice flavor aspects but it just never seems to coalesce.

ktrillionaire, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of Tilley4
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bells 25th Anniversary Ale pours a reddish golden into my Duvel tulip and slowly but surely forms a medium sized foamy head of creamy off white... Swirling laces and coats the glass with sticky globs of lacing throughout...

Bursting with fresh pineapple aromas and sweet caramel malts, this one smells awesome to me...tangy and citrusy juicy aspects from the hops overpower and dominate... I'm thinking DIPA all the way with these fresh pineapple aromas... They are pungent....

Sweet citrusy pineapple and orange hop flavors right up front that fade into a sweet caramel toffee maltiness that seems to finish quite drier than I hoped it would... None of the lingering hop bitterness I was expecting... Sort of finishes like a good gin or something... Its pretty sweet throughout which sort of detracts after a while...

I liked this one even though its a bit sweet at this point for more than one... I'm anxious to see how this one ages out and the hops fade a bit...

Tilley4, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours an orange-amber color with a cream-colored head. The aroma is fairly faint, but I do get a little bit of alcohol, dark fruit, citrus and honey. The flavor is more pronounced. I get some caramel malt, candi-sugar, sweet fruit, citrus and some alcohol. There is a light amount of hop bitterness. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Mora2000, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of kels
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Fittingly enjoying from my Bell's pint glass.

Pours a dark coppery shade with complete clarity. Mild carbonation is visible within, and the initial 1 finger fizzy head fades immediately to a watery skim. Slippery spots of lace hang on the glass just long enough to be noticed.

The nose is pretty light, but there are tones of rich malts, alcohol and honey.

The beer is pretty flavorful and rich, although it doesn't remind me much of a strong ale. The grapefruit hop bite borders more closely on an IPA. The barley is richly caramelized and acts as a nice base for the notable alcohol. There's a warmth that adds body and roundness, almost like the oak in a barrel-aged beer. Raisin and tart apple show up in the finish a bit. Feel is moderate with low carbonation and a great deal of stickiness in the finish.

Drinkability is pretty high. It's not so much to the style as I've experienced it, but it is a nice, tasty beer.

kels, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of kbutler1
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Batch 9871. Pours a deep orange amber color with a tan offwhite 1 finger head. The aroma is really fruity which was a nice pleasant surprise because I didn't know what to expect. Lots of pineapple. The taste is rather nice with a malty, sweet fruit taste that transitions to a slight hoppy bite. Almost get a slight coconut flavor as well. Nice lace left on the glass. Ends pretty crisply. No real flavor of alcohol present. Medium mouthfeel. Overall, a pretty easy drinking straight forward beer.

kbutler1, Oct 15, 2010
Photo of bucklemyshoe
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle at 42* into a Stone IRS tulip.

A: This pours a dark amber color with a disappointing, short-lived, and fizzy head.

S: It smells of berries, sweet caramel malts, an underwhelming hop character, and raisin puree.

T: A nice hoppiness begins and ends quickly, being replaced by bittersweet berries, and a raisin and date finish.

M: It's medium-light with a grape peel flavor lingering.

D: I understand this style to be a varied one but this is weird. Bell's can do much better than this.

bucklemyshoe, Oct 14, 2010
Photo of bashiba
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a nice deep amber with a light tan head, nice lacing and decent retention.

The smell was very fresh and clean hops with a nice sweet caramel malt coming through.

The taste is nice balance of toasty malts and light sweetness along with fresh citrusy hops.

The mouthfeel has a nice bit of thickness and a touch of warmth.

Very drinkable and tasty, yet a bit underwhelming as nothing really special about it either. Was expecting a bit more based on extreme rarity and even more extreme pricing.

bashiba, Oct 14, 2010
Photo of Blakaeris
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark orange in color with a thick, soapy white head.

Aroma is a strong caramel malt base and massive citrus hop.

Taste is rich grainy caramel malt, with hints of brown sugar. Hops have a chinook style, orange rind earthy bitterness. Finishes sweet, with hot alcohol.

Mouthfeel is medium-full, with hop oil slickness.

Overall a very flavorful ale. Reminds me of a nice double IPA rather than a strong ale.

Blakaeris, Oct 14, 2010
Photo of stakem
3.63/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a SA sensory glass, Bell's 25th anniversary ale appears a perfectly clear amber color. A finger of yellowish stained head appears and dissolves almost immediately to a fine ring around the inside perimeter of the glass.

The aroma of this brew is quite sweet smelling like that of caramelized malt which is very, very similar to belgian candy sugar. Some light floral hops are included along with a light sting of solvent alcohol in the nose.

The taste is matching with an equal amount of caramelized malty sweetness, lightly toasted. A contrasting flavor of solvent alcohol comes through to wipe out the sweetness and a bit of herbal hops linger in the background blending with the alcohol character.

This is a medium bodied brew with a moderate to light level of carbonation. The flavor of this brew is caught somewhere inbetween toasted malt, candy, fusel alcohol and herbal hops. It really doesn't mesh well together and is a bit of a mess that didnt quite do it for me. Perhaps some age with blend these flavors together better but as it is now it is a flop.

stakem, Oct 13, 2010
Photo of ncaudle
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle poured into snifter.

pours a hazy, dark amber with nice 1" or so of white foamy head which left little lacing.

floral aroma with scents of pine and citrus, vanilla and some sweetness too. tastes of sweet malt, spices and fruit; slight hop bitterness.

slightly creamy. no discernible alcohol burn.
not a session beer but I can see myself sipping this while doing lawn work in the fall...

ncaudle, Oct 10, 2010
Photo of emerge077
3.53/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Saturated burnt copper, concentric rings of lace form under a flurry of spotty flecks all around the glass. A nice color, reminds me of a barleywine.

Oddly sweet crystal malt aroma, almost funky and not the most pleasant. Brown sugar, toffee, cotton candy, a bare hint of hops that's a bit too subtle.

Rich, smooth barleywine feel, huge bready, toasted barley flavor. Moderately sweet, with a mild hop bitterness in the aftertaste. Fairy average, but strong. Glad I only had a single and not a full 6.

emerge077, Oct 10, 2010
Photo of daledeee
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I poured this into a large wine glass. Got a very nice head with a dark orange body.

Nose is very spicy and apricot

Taste is not as strong as I expected. Some malts and sweetness with apricot. A pretty strong finish.

The mouth feel medium with some creaminess. Drinkability is good with not real strong alcohol presence.

daledeee, Oct 10, 2010
Photo of bsp77
3.58/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Hazy, glowing orangish-red with just a thin line on top.

Smell: Sweet citrus, pine, caramel, plum and a light spiciness. Mild but pleasing.

Taste: Citrus and pine hops are noticeable upfront but never turn very bitter. The malt backbone is relatively mild, with some caramel, toffee and dark fruit.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, smooth and slightly chewy body but somehow not very full. Barely dry finish.

Drinkability: Overall, this is a very smooth and mellow beer; a little too mellow actually, as it just never takes off. Nevertheless, it is a nice sipper.

bsp77, Oct 09, 2010
Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
85 out of 100 based on 488 ratings.