Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
84
good
346 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Bell's 25th Anniversary AleBell's 25th Anniversary Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc.
Michigan, United States | website

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mcallister on 07-28-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

BEER STATS
Reviews:
346
Ratings:
509
Avg:
3.74
pDev:
15.24%
 
 
Wants:
20
Gots:
65
For Trade:
4
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 346 | Ratings: 509
Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.02/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle poured into a mini-snifter.

I'm loving the gooey amber pour this gives, especially as it's unexpected. I loved the 30th Anniversary Ale from Bell's and was expecting this to be a stout like that one, so the color and obviously different beer immediately piqued my interest. In the glass the beer shows a light carbonation and high level of clarity and when held to light the amber develops a rose hue. Only thing I didn't see was the burly head, lace and film I like. 4.75

Smells of tobacco, aged raisins and caramel with a grassy overlay show first. A deep, developed sweetness that has many a layer to it lurks. Booze kind of peaks its head out and then fades. 4

I have a lot to contemplate as I sip this. It's showing some oxidized notes and with them I get earthy notes, floral notes, hints of banana almost, and tobacco and wood. Even a bit of cardboard and nail polish. I don't believe this beer is barrel-aged, but the flavor and nose certainly offer up some suggestions that it is. Where as the front side is caramel and brown sugar sweet, this dissipates into an ester-heavy finish that kind of reminds me of a dunkelweizen with notes of banana, bread and clove. Fascinating and it grows on my rather quickly. 4

A few things about the feel kind of take me aback. First off, it feels a lot thinner than it should given the rich flavors, ABV and style (I'm assuming this is an old ale or English barleywine based on the flavor and aroma). Second, the oxidized notes impart something odd that temporarily interrupts all the awesome flavor and feel. Get around it and this has a sweet creaminess and hints at the full body that these flavors command. As with the flavor, I adapt to them and find myself enjoying this. 3.75

I didn't have this fresh so it's hard to know how this changed over the years. To my thinking though, some of the flavor and aroma that are awesome are clearly the result of age. However, I think it also developed some undesirables that don't ruin the beer but are a slight hindrance.

 2,033 characters

Photo of mdterps187
4.39/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer has really turned a corner. I only vaguely remember it from when I bought a sixer back in 2010, but I recall a muddled malt profile and some out of place soy sauce/umami. It's a shame this didn't sit in storage longer because now I wish I'd saved all six of them.

Pours a slightly opaque ruby-amber with an off-white head. Carb is fairly low though higher than expected for a 5+ year old bottle.

Smells like an English old ale. Any hop aromatics are long gone. There's some added dried fruit from the yeast to add to a caramelly, toasted bread malt aroma.

Tastes of raisins, dates, dark caramel, crystal malt with the faintest hint of alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. This thing sticks to your tongue with a surprising amount of body- more like some beers with double the strength and gravity. Carbonation is low, slight prickle from the alcohol content.

Overall, I'm really impressed with how this has rounded out. Some beers taste like they need a little refinement when they're fresh but this one needed a total overhaul. Time, bottle conditioning, and some slight oxidation for the better have treated this bottle well. I hope Bells makes this again but leaves it in storage for a good long time before release (or at the least takes a page from Dogfish and instructs the buyer to bury in a hole and forget for the better part of a decade).

 1,381 characters

Photo of drpimento
4.07/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Found this beer squirreled away in a place that's been dark but quite warm for a long time. Aroma is malt and raisins. Flavor's like nose plus herbs. Great palate. Nice beer. Wonder what it would've been like properly cared for.

 228 characters

Photo of beatenbyjacks
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Appearance - this was by far the most appealing part of this beer! rich frothy white head with beautiful lacing. light caramel color to the beer.

Smell - roasted malts for sure and a slight bitterness at the end.

Taste - lots and lots and lots of malts! Malt bomb.

Mouth feel - even with how malty this guy was it was very easy to drink.

Overall - maybe I should not have sat on this beer trade as long as I did. While very easy to drink, it was not my favorite Bell's beer.

 479 characters

Photo of gueuzedreg
4.16/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Darker Apple Cider. Minimal head after 5 minutes of pout. Lacing the same. No retention.

S- Very malty, dark fruit. Well done.

T- Down to the T for Dark Strong Ale. Very well done. Dark Fruit, slight molasses.

M- Good M for this style. Smooth, very smooth.

O- I really enjoyed this strong. More than a lot that I have had. Enjoy one

 348 characters

Photo of brian44556
3.92/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This is the last of my 6 pack and it has been sitting on my basement shelf for 3 years now. I wish I had some notes on the other 5, but can't recall how they were.

Pours a dark, copper with a small thin head after an aggressive pour. The head floats on top of the beer for a good few drinks. Beautiful lacing sticks to the sides with each drink.

Very sweet, complex smell. Hints of raisans, plums, molasses, and caramel. A lot going on there. Different smells come through as the beer warms up.

Great tasting beer. Very sweet, I would almost classify this as a barleywine. Lots of complex malts there. Bread, earth, and dark fruits. Get a small taste of aged English hops. Still a small taste of alcohol.

Light carbonation; pretty refreshing at 8.5%.

Overall a solid beer. With the amazing regular offerings by Bell's, this 25th Anniversary Beer seems to be a bit of a let down.

 887 characters

Photo of tectactoe
3.63/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to Mike for letting me have one of his, otherwise I don't think I would've ever gotten my hands on one of these. Pours an elegant blend of amber and copper with a very slight, rustic orange tint to it. Light translucency clings to the edges, but this beer is mostly opaque throughout. A small khaki head forms after a pretty aggressive pour; some carbonation was possibly lost during this beer's three year journey.

The aroma is familiar yet different and kind of hard to pin down. It's pretty sweet with lots of light, brown sugar notes floating about. I'm picking up some candied, dark fruits, like plums, grapes, and dates. It's got that "sticky sweet" kind of aroma to it, although there's something cutting through the sweetness that tames it just a bit - maybe a light, earthy hoppiness. Caramel and molasses in the finish are most likely consequences of the malts used. It almost smells like a barleywine, but it's not quite there. Not as sweet, not as rich. A little enigmatic overall.

Malts pave the way first and foremost upon taking a generous swallow - caramel and toffee with a bit of sweet molasses quickly following them up. The malts also lend some bread and butter type notes that are a bit more subtle. Lots of seemingly residual sugar, although again, the sweetness is actually controlled pretty well. Brown sugar-covered dark fruits; plums and figs pop out the most. There's a light oxidation in the finish that brings out a mild, wet cardboard flavor. The booze is noticeable but not abrasive. You can definitely tell this is 8.5% ABV, but even after some warming, the boozy flavors never become too hot or uncontrollable. Body is on the medium-thick side with low carbonation and a somewhat sticky and oily mouth feel.

For a 25th Anniversary beer, being such a "big" milestone in the lifetime of basically anything, I would have expected just a little more from a brewery so well defined in so many categories. "American Strong Ales" always seem like such a "catch-all" category, so you never really know what you're gonna get. I feel like this one might have been a little better fresh, maybe a stronger hop presence would have made it a bit more lively. Nothing stands out, but it definitely wasn't bad. The problem is that Bell's has already set the bar too high for themselves! Thanks again to Mike for this one.

 2,348 characters

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

This is a pretty straight forward ale. Not a lot of deviation off of what you first get. Tastes similar to a barleywine. Thick character from ingredients may age well over time. A nice ale, but I would have hoped for a bit more from a 25th anniversary ale.

 256 characters

Photo of lazjuarez
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a tumbler. Bottle dated: 9871 vintage 2010

A: Poured rather delicately into a tumbler releasing a 1 1/2 finger worth of an off-white short lived head. Recedes rather quickly leaving some spotty lacing and some light alcohol legs are noticeable as well. Dark amber in color, a bit hazy, and small carbonation.

S: Nose is of big bready malts, figs, brown sugar, and a touch of alcohol. Some oaky funk is apparent, vanilla, maybe a touch of band-aid???

T: Taste is of big bready malts, earthy notes, and some light funk?? Taste is a bit complex, but balanced.

M: Medium mouthfeel; bready malts, light carbonation, but a deceiving amount of alcohol (8.5%) is enough to cleanse the palate. I believe it's reached it's peak so I will be sharing my last bottle ASAP.

 795 characters

Photo of katan
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz into a pint

A - Pours a heavy amber to brown color. Not much for carbonation or head formation - mocha in color. Opaque but hot hazy.

S - Heavy amounts of malts, sugary sweet, caramel, raisins, not much for hopping. Alot bit acidic, perhaps from age.

T - Starts off sweet, raisins, plums, dark fruits. Mid-stream does bring in a pretty strong american hops profile, lots of citrus, some piney flavors, overall pretty earthy. A good balance. Finishes mostly malty, sweet, sticky.

M - Full bodied and a light amount of carbonation. Some alcohol warmth. Sticky.

O/D - A good example of an american strong ale. Strong, balanced, lots of deep malts and a hefty american hop bite. ABV is strong but not over the top.

 723 characters

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

Pours a copper color with a nearly non-existent off white head, really just a slight ring. No lace.
Smell is caramel and malt, a sourish wood note and a light grape/apple note as well. Good balance.
Taste is woody malt, a charred whiskey note and a light caramel and apple hint , too.
Medium plus body, drying, lightly effervesced. For a strong ale this comes across a little weak in body and subdued in flavor. Alcohol is very restrained though a nicely building warmth.

 471 characters

Photo of barczar
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy rusty amber color with a dense half inch cream head that lingers.

Aroma is very sweet, brown sugar, with figs, dates, and plums adding complexity. There's a touch of alcohol and an herbal hop note at the finish. Bruised cherries emerge as it warms.

Flavor is completely different than the aroma. There's less sweetness present. Toasted malt and bitter grapefruit pith form the backbone, leading into a peppery, alcoholic finish. Dark fruit flavors of bruised cherries and plum are subtle.

Body is fairly thick, with moderate carbonation, and significant alcohol heat...almost fusel.

Overall, a juxtaposition of aroma and flavor. Bitterness dominates, and the flavor was lacking in complexity, compared to the aroma. Alcohol was overwhelming.

 758 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.46/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a CCB snifter. Batch 9871, bottled 8/12/2010.

Appearance - Deep amber with enough head to balloon at the top of the glass. I didn't leave it much space, though. Island of foam on top and some even sticks to the glass.

Smell - It doesn't smell very good. Cardboard aroma and some apples. Caramel and some paler malts in the nose as well. A touch boozy.

Taste - Better, I guess. Doesn't taste oxidized, maybe just a touch in the finish. Otherwise the apple smells persist along with the pale and caramel malts. Bitter throughout. Reminds me of a less impressive Fred. Biting bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Quite drinkable, really. It's a well balanced beer, if that means anything at all. Boozy, but otherwise I don't have a problem drinking it.

Overall - It's just kind of unexciting and I think getting a little old. It leaves me with a sickly aftertaste also, though. Not sure why.

 909 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
2.95/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle: Poured a dark golden veering on copper color ale with a medium size foamy head with OK retention and some lacing. Aroma of weird cereal notes with a big rush of sugar and some off balanced hops. Taste is a weird mix of everything that was left to brew around the brew house that day including half caramelized malt with weird unrefined cereal notes with a dry hoppy finish. Body is quite full with medium carbonation and no apparent alcohol. This one is a bit messy in a similar fashion that batch 10,000 was messy.

 523 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.38/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch number 9871. bottled on 08/12/2010.

poured into snifter.

Appearance: medium orangish/red bodied beer with nice clarity. Half a finger of fizzy white head that drops quickly to a ring around the glass.

Smell: dark fruits(raisins) and booze. Caramel malts with a touch of brown sugar. Got some vinous/wine qualities noted in the nose.

Taste: heavy oxidation. White grapes and sweet white wine. Caramel malts that overly sweet. This beer is just too sweet for my tastes. you can still get the hops and they taste stale as they should. Finishes dry with a mild bitter note.

Mouthfeel: high end of medium bodied beer. carbonation is still hold up nicely around a moderate carbonation level. It got a little bit of creaminess to the beer also.

Overall: This beer is okay, but nothing special for the style. Probably a better beer fresh.

 843 characters

Photo of greenmonstah
3.35/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle batch 9871

A - Light copper with a finger of tan head.

S - Sweet raisin and toffee complemented by bitter and earthy hops, plus alcohol.

T - Some raisin, brown bread, toffee, caramel, maybe nutmeg. Tastes like wort... The hops are subdued and not very well acquainted with the malts, the two flavor genres seem separated in some way. Strong warming effect.

M - Medium body, smooth, with a slight reminder of the above-average carbonation.

O - Overall this isn't much to write home about. Fairly bland and ill-devised hop profile that doesn't blend in the with the only-just-above-average malt profile. Not a bad beer, but for a special release like this is should have been a lot better.

 705 characters

Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.72/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured on 1-20-12
Batch 9871

A - A very dark orange with a thin light tan head that fades fairly fast.

S - Very sweet and malty. Carmel, toffee, and oranges are all present.

T - Carmel, raisin, and slightly metallic.

D - Lower carbonation, a very heavy body.

O - Old ale that is sweet with a heavy fruity body.

 327 characters

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

Thanks to wintbs379 for this beer.

A: Pours out a nice caramel color with deep hues of red. There is about one finger of khaki colored head that seems to last forever. There is some great lacing as it drinks.

S: This beer smells sweet and malt, almost like a barleywine, with a touch of spice in the background. I'm getting malt, wheat, bananas, oranges, ginger, and clove. I'm digging it.

T: I get a blast of sweet malt right up front, but that flavor quickly transitions to citrus (orange) and clover. The sweetness never fades, but it becomes more subtle toward the finish. I get some nice spice and fresh cut grass in the finish.

M: Medium bodied beer. The flavors indulge the palate with quick bursts of ingredients, and all of them simmer slowly into oblivion as it drinks. Nothing is too overpowering or sticky. The sweetness lingers but not for too long.

O: I'm really impressed by this beer. I have been let down by a bunch of Bell's offerings, but I'm very happy with this one. It seems incredibly complicated, with no real definitive style, but that's ok with me. This beer is a winner. Happy 25th!

 1,114 characters

Photo of syrupjoe
3.2/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle into pint glass. Pours a deep amber with light tan head.

Nose is extraordinarily malty - honey, biscuit, and sweet toffee.

Taste is rather light and smooth - less than I expected with the nose. Lots of biscuit and malt, a slight amount of grain, and a bit of booze.

Low carbonation with a sweet but tight finish.

Overall this is an okay beer, but it's nothing great. It's well-rounded but I wouldn't seek it out and will probably give away my second bottle.

 475 characters

Photo of zeledonia
3.05/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Batch 9871, bottled 12 August 2010. Clearly whatever hops were present have faded by now. Picked up a bottle a few months back, not sure why I waited so long to try it.

Pours a hazy medium amber, a rather dull color, to be frank. One finger of cream-colored head, fades fast, little lacing.

Smell is an odd mix of fruit that I can't quite place. It's like one of those tropical fruit punches, with pineapple, apricot, some citrust, maybe papaya. Sweet, pungent, and nose-filling in a surprising way. My nostrils feel like they're being assaulted by fruit juice.

Taste is, surprsingly, quite similar to the smell. Has that same weird fruity character that the smell does, but here it's tempered somewhat by a bit of bitter hops. But what I found pleasant in the smell, I find somewhat off-putting in the taste. This is one of the stranger beers I've tasted - tastes more like tropical punch than any beer I've had.

Mouthfeel is good - medium-bodied, good carbonation, smooth. Flavor does a disappearing act in the finish - not dry, but quick.

Overall, a really odd beer. Had me doing searches to figure out what the heck they put in it. I realize the age on this has probably brought out the sweeter, maltier, side, but wow is it strange. Not terrible, but not terribly enjoyable.

 1,284 characters

Photo of sholland119
3.18/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Pours a pretty amber red, crystal clear, low carbonation but a little ring of off white head.

S-Lots of bready malt and some caramel sweetness.

T-Surprisingly bland, especially for a Bell's beer. Malty, bready but disappointingly watery.

M-Low carbonation, medium body, thin.

O-A letdown all in all. Bummer.

HV

 317 characters

Photo of nrbw23
3.01/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Finally finished off the sixer I had of this. I drank this one fresh and through out the past year.

A- Pours a slightly hazed reddish copper color, that's pretty bright when held up to the light with a fairly thin egg shell colored head. A bit of spotty lacing is left behind.

S- Kind of a muted smell with nothing here really turning me on. Picking up bready malts, touch of alcohol, spice from the hops and maybe a bit of something sweeter.

T- Quite a bit of bready malts here. Again pretty boring a bit of life from the hops which are spicey and a touch of pine.

M- A touch on the fuller side of medium and carbonation was medium at best.

O- An average beer at best, but with 17 bucks a sixer prieces makes this one take a back seat to many other brews.

 765 characters

Photo of jsanford
3.47/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a Bell's Tulip.

Pours a clear, dark copper with a think white head that fades to slight ring and wispy haze. Sweet caramel malt and pine resin hops dominate the nose. Taste is close to the nose, lots of sweet caramel malt, toasted bread, pine resin, and citrus peel. Tasty, but not too complex. Mouthfeel is slightly syrupy, with a medium body and lowish carbonation. Decent beer overall, just forgettable.

 431 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.58/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle obtained in a trade with Thorpe, I gave him nothing and he gave me 2 of these, not sure why but it does not bode well for this beer. I like Bell's and have neglected their beers thus far, time to start seriously pursuing them as a brewery. Served in a DFH glass because I don't have a Bell's tulip or snifter. D'oh!

Beer is brown with a mild haze, huge head, lots of lacing, looks like soap on the glass.

Aroma is sweet, like candy, caramel, malt syrup, smells fine.

Beer is good, not great, super sweet, heavy on the palate, sweet finish, very strong. Mild alcohol, it is just sweet sweet sweet. Very strong, overall interesting but not a great ale. I probably won't have it again.

 692 characters

Photo of warnerry
3.44/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Notes from 1/30/2011

A - Pours deep amber with three fingers of pillowy head. Head has moderate retention and leaves a decent amount of lacing behind.

S - Caramel malts predominate, though some grains are also present. Aroma is nice but a little underwhelming.

T - Again, dominated by malts with a distinct tea flavor on the finish. Some slightly sweet notes in the taste, but no specific flavors I can pin down. Taste pretty good, but non-descript.

M - Medium light mouthfeel with some slight drying on the finish.

O - Definitely drinkable, if not particularly memorable or desirable. Perhaps the Batch 10,000 should have been the recipe for this anniversary beer as an homage to their roots. This just doesn't stand out in any way.

 739 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
84 out of 100 based on 346 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe