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

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Bell's 25th Anniversary AleBell's 25th Anniversary Ale

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

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.

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Ratings: 513 |  Reviews: 347
Photo of Shumista
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours clear medium dark amber with a very thin 1 inch head, that dissipates quickly to leave no trace at all. Grainy smell, brown sugar, caramel and some hops, a fruitiness I can't quite place. Tastes sweet and hoppy, lingering earthy bitterness at the end. Brown sugar and some caramel malt. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, drinkability suffers from the sweetness.

I respect the challenge of making it to 25 years, congratulations to Bell's. Similar to Batch 9000, however, I feel like this doesn't do the milestone justice. This really isn't an interesting beer at all. It's a mildly drinkable strong ale with a 25 year label slapped on it. To me it seems like a squandered opportunity to do something memorable and special. I just kind of feel like Larry is saying "Thanks for 25's a totally uninspired beer. Shutup and drink it, hopslam will be out in a few months."

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

Kudos on making it to 25 years, Larry. It couldn't have been easy.

A beautiful bloody red with a dense, light brown head with excellent retention and lacing, this is an excellent looking brew. Steady streams of carbonation rise from the etched D of my Duvel tulip.

I wonder if they were going for some version of an aged Double Bastard with this brew. Plenty of fruity sweetness is present, along with caramel, toffee and rather surprisingly, a touch of stale-smelling malt as well. Hop character is light, there's some pine, a little mint and some alcohol. Solid stuff.

The palate opens with a blend of pine hop flavor, juicy bitterness and sweetness. The sweetness is fairly complex, with plenty of caramel, tropical fruit (papaya? pineapple?) and some brown sugar. There's a slight sharpness that reminds me of burnt sugar as well. Alcohol appears towards the finish. The finish is a little disappointing, having some of the stale malt character I picked up on the nose, reminiscent of mildly oxidized crystal malt (think aged Bigfoot that time hasn't been kind to). The mouthfeel, however, is sublime. Medium-full in body with a light carbonation, this feels decadent on the palate. Ultimately, though, this is sweeter than I care, and even though this 12oz bottle went down quite easily, it's not something I'll reach out for in a hurry. A solid effort.

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

Bottle (batch #9871) poured into my Duvel tulip.

A- This one had quite a unique look to it. A moderate pour left about 1 finger of tan head. The head dropped to a full film that kept throughout the glass and left good sticky spots. The body was really complex. I picked out a lot of brown and red as it poured, but the more I looked at it the more I saw something of pink and peach hues that made me think of a dark rose or blush wine. Carbonation was, for lack of a better term, medium.

S- There was a real onrush of piney and grassy hops at first. Sweet, brown sugar malts presented themselves on further inspection. Alcohol waited just off-stage at first. It becomes sweeter and more alcoholish (but not astringent) with warmth. I need to better acqaint myself with premium liquors to better describe these types. The best I can come up with is a well-aged rum.

T- Quite rich at first. Brown sugar malts show a toasty side if you look for it. Piney hops balance the flavor through the middle (and came out during a few burps). There's a slight alcohol note in the finih. With some warmth, there's kind of a fermented fruitiness that grows. Maybe a buttery, dark, aged rum like I described in the aroma?

M- Quite viscus initially, though it seems to mellow later. There's a strong bite from the combination of hopping, tight carbonation, and alcohol. There's a pleasant warming, alcohol quality in the finish that's quite dry from the hops.

D- It's a definite sipper. At 8.5% abv, I wouldn't say the alcohol is particularly well hidden, but it's soft enough to be enjoyable. I'd compare it to the 3rd Coast Old Ale that's been stepped up a notch. I would buy this as a yearly fall/winter seasonal if it were available. I'd also like to put a little age on a few bottles to see how it matures. A good way to celebrate 25 years for Bell's.

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Photo of wyattshotmaker
2.22/5  rDev -40.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

poured into a pint glass, nice amber color decent fluffy head.

smells somewhat grainy, apple skins, toasted bread, brown sugar. just all very faint.

kinda bland. big grainy malt flavor, some toasted bread flavor going on. the aftertaste is somewhat offputting. not very bitter and is void of hop flavor.

overall, this beer doesn't do much for me. i wouldn't actively seek it out and it wasn't worth the 15.99 sixpack price.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
3.62/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a golden brown, the head build up was nice. Foamy white head that built to about 2 fingers worth. Lacing is noticeable early. Looking like a DIPA.

S: Aroma is sweet, yet hoppy. Get some caramel and grilled pineapple. Smells nice. Some savory notes as well, a bit of cooked onion and aromatics. Hops are fruity and bitter.

T: A bit slim on flavor. Picking up some medium roast malts and some bitter hops. Sweetness with some honey and brown sugar. Alcohol is not too evident. Nothing stands out as a big flavor.

M: Good body, good crispness. The beer drinks pretty well, just falls short on the palate. Surprised for this being the 25th anniversary beer.

D: Drinks too easy for what it should be. I get no impression of a strong ale here. Drinks more like a slightly higher abv IPA.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.55/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to biglobo8971 for the great mystery box!

A - Slightly cloudy deep orange copper color with an average lasting off-white head that leaves practically no lacing on the glass.

S - Caramel, apricot esters. Big toasty/bready malts. Sight solventy alcohol aroma.

F/M - Caramel, bready/toasty malts, dried stone fruits. Earthy/piney and little bit citrusy hops with a medium-firm bitterness. Medium-full bodied with a slick and oily mouthfeel. Medium-low carbonation. Solventy booze in the finish.

D - OK, but the rich sweet malts and thick oily mouthfeel make this a sipper. Probably couldn't put down more than a single bottle of this to myself in one sitting, but it was pretty good.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a Bells tulip...What is this beer, a muted dipa, a hoppy strong ale? Who knows, but its pretty darn good. Its strong hops in the aroma and taste, a little malt but then a lot of alcohol. The alcohol comes through like a dipa, but there is a depth to malt that shows it not an ipa. Interesting brew, a little too strong but worth giving a shot.

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Photo of cmaude
4.09/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this at my last "only going to buy one bottle of a pumpkin ale" beer run that turned into a small beer buying orgy. The shiny silver packaging totally got me.

Appearance: Pretty reddish orange - creamy foam disappears immediately despite a fairly aggressive pour.

Smell: So. Good. Citrus, apples, honey - it smells like the kind of cake you might bake this time of the year - summer sweetness with fruity acidity, and just a hint of fall spice. Wish they made a candle or perfume in this scent.

Taste: Honestly, a bit sweeter than I would like. It's going to take a while to get through this one. Hold it in your mouth a bit, and the lemony citrus takes the stage to the point where it almost seems like a Ricola cough drop - medicinal herbs cut in hardcore.

Mouthfeel: Pleasantly thick, but the carbonation is noticeable enough given the sweetness.

Drinkability: Between the sweetness, the medicinal characteristics, and the ABV, I'm glad I only bought one bottle. Tasty for a VERY slow sipper, and I might buy another single at some point, but this would have been a rough six pack to get through.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly rusted red-copper. Slight off-white head without too much lacing as it goes down. The nose is...unique. I'm having a hard time describing what's going on. Maybe a bit of bready yeast scent with hints of caramel and amber malt in the background. Strange, but kind of reminds me of the smell characteristic of most Harpoon beers, which I've always attributed to their house yeast.

Taste is similarly difficult to describe. There's a noticeable bitterness that was not present in the nose. Slightly earthy/floral for the hops, although not to a large extent at all. Slight alcohol tinge. Bitterness coats my mouth after swallowing. Slightly dry mouthfeel. Dry. Drinkability is enhanced by there mere fact that I really can't stop drinking to figure out exactly what is going on. In the end, I'm really not making all that much progress. I've got a sixer or so left, so I'll have to see how this one ages.

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Photo of morimech
4.17/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reddish amber color with a small head that quickly went away. Just a little spotty lacing is left on the glass. Not the liveliest beer around. Aroma of sweet malt with hints of vanilla and toffee. The hops are well hidden with maybe a touch of floral and fruit. The alcohol is also well hidden. The flavor is really well done. Plenty of malt upfront that gives a sweet caramel base. But the hops come alive. The hops give plenty of floral and tropical fruit notes. Bitterness is getting up there but is in balance with the malt. A little warmth from the alcohol in the finish. Body is a little larger than medium. Carbonation is sufficient to give some lift to this somewhat heavy beer. A very interesting, well balanced beer. Well done. Here is to the next 25 years.

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

A: It poured a nice coppery/deep amber color, it formed a quality white head.

S: A sweet malty, sugary smell. I get caramel and butterscotch with a mild vanilla note.

T: It has a syrupy butterscotch/caramel quality, with a moderate hop profile to keep things interesting. It is hoppy and sweet, it is pretty balanced between those notes.

M/D: It has a good texture, smooth and rich. It is a little sweet. All in all a quality beverage.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Dark, copper, amber (deep amber) with a very frothy off-white head. Ends in big bubbles around the edge.

Minute tart. MAlt sweet. Citrus sweet. Definite hops.

Slightly sweet, and a bit tart, with some finishing hops and overall citrus.

Feel is a bit thin; creamy, but thin.

Overall tasty, and easy to drink.

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Photo of thetomG
3.68/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber colored pour with a decent layer of foamy head. Minimal lacing. Aroma is mostly malty, taste is WAY more of the same. Very malty flavors just power through with a little bit of bitter hops in the mix as well.

Well carbonated and quite drinkable despite the strong flavors present. Good now, but I have a feeling it might get better with a little age on it..

Will definitely be revisiting this one later on...

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Photo of tpd975
3.88/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to my favorite new trader bierenutz for this one.

A: Pours an amberish orange hue with a nice tall head. Good retention and a smattering of lace.

S: Sweet and malty with lots of caramel, toffee, and hints of pine.

T: Malty sweetness. Lots of candy malt. Subtle citrus and pine with notes of bread and light dark fruit.

M: Medium in body, smooth, great carbonation.

D: Good a nice offering by Bell's

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Photo of gatornation
3.06/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

pours a a beautiful slight hazed copper color with a small tan head nice lacing on glass..smell is sugary hops and citrus with sweet candy toffee smells..the taste is very sweet candy like with malts ..then hops then some toffee a little smoke and alcohol burn..mouth feel is medium and over sweet like rock candy..its too sweet and candy like for me i would not call it a strong ale it is all over the place i dont know what to call it except not good..for a 25th mark this did not hit with me way to sweet

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Photo of bobhits
1.93/5  rDev -48.4%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Cherry red amber color, some bubbles lingering, 2 finger white thin head.

There isn't much nose on this. The dry hopping is just not in the aroma. Some fruity dark cherry aromo, and strong sweet malt.

Smoke, strong malt body, soft hop finish. Well balanced if you don't want the hops or the malt to stand out. Dark fruits, caramel, toffee, smoke, alcohol, hoppy cheery flavor? It's interesting.

Fairly thin for a special beer, ok carbonation, goes down easy, but for a strong ale this isn't what i want.

It's tasty, I don't dislike this, but I've had countless better beers.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bell's tulip glass, check. Bell's coaster, check. Bell's bottle opener, check. Now on to put them all to use in drinking up some Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale.

Appearance, : clear, dusky crimson coloring, small but staying beige head. Looks good!

Aroma: rich, sweet caramel notes. Malt-driven ale all the way, very little hops coming through. Hints of molasses. A little spicy.

Taste: Mmmm. Hard to pigeonhole, tough to describe. Dark and slightly smokey, rich malt, viscous mouthfeel, alcohol becoming apparent. This feels most like a barley-wine, maybe something like a scotch ale, and a little like a Belgian strong dark. Caramel and toffee ahoy! The official description mentions "generous dry-hopping", but it's lost on me, even the "fragrant hop character."
All I'm getting is rich, sweet dark malt.
But very even-tempered, and I am now getting the hops, and they are well-balanced with the malt. Which is why it doesn't totally resemble a barley-wine, the sweetness is kept in check with hops wonderfully.
A wonderful, relaxing ale. How I wish I could actually get this in quantity. I'd love to have 2 or 3 of these in a row for a really righteous session.

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Photo of tewaris
3.91/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

25th Anniversary Ale
Bell's Brewery Inc.
American Strong Ale (BeerAdvocate)/Strong Amber Ale (brewer's description)
8.5% ABV
1.084 OG
12 oz bottle, bottled August 12th, 2010, poured into a New Belgium snifter on September 16th, 2010. Shelf life is six months according to Bell's.

Appearance 5/5
Poured dark amber, or light brown, with good clarity and a good off-white head that stayed till the end and left great lacing on the glass.

Aroma 4/5
Aroma hints at a hoppy beer that is malt forward as well, and not like a DIPA where hops would dominate. I believe there are centennial hops in this one too because the hop smell is similar to Two Hearted, but not as fruity and dominating. The sweet, caramelly, malt aroma is equally strong.

Taste 3.5/5
Fruity sweet start that is quickly superseded by a decent hop bitterness. The finish is medium-dry and warming. Leaves a malty aftertaste on palate, and a bitter warmth at the back of the tongue. Good taste but I don't quite get the elements present in the aroma. I let it warm up, almost to room temperature, but still didn't quite get what I was looking for.

Mouthfeel 4.5/5
Silky because of the low carbonation but a tad thin. Coats the mouth to some extent but doesn't get cloying.

Drinkability 4/5
Alcohol is on the higher side, but the body is a little low, which is a minus for me given the style. However, alcohol warmth and malty richness keep things in check. Still, the taste is lacking that affects drinkability too.

Good beer. I would seek it out again if I could but this is "limited edition". Like most people who have tried this beer, I expected a much more solid offering from Bell's for their 25th! Perhaps barrel aged Expedition?

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Photo of bamadog
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see this one, and I've been pleased to come across 3 offerings from Bell's in the last couple of weeks that I've never been able to have before, so that's pretty sweet. Review is from notes taken on 9/15/2010 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pour is a solid and deep coppery color and starts with a 1/2 finger loose and soapy tan head that fades quickly to a scant wisp; body is very clear and looks a little oily on the pour and shows slight carbonation bubbling up; only a few spots of loose lacing are left behind.

Smell: A lot of hops come out as soon as I crack the bottle, but it settles quickly and becomes much sweeter, and actually, even fruity and candy-like; slight presence of alcohol hanging out in the robust nose as well.

Taste: Quite a bit going on here -- lots of bitter piney and grapefruit hops that are balanced by a very saccharine/sugary/candy sweet maltiness that is actually quite reminiscent of those hard candy root beer barrels; bit of a toffee sweetness and it rounds out with a warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: Body is of medium weight and it is definitely slick and oily; carbonation is soft and smooth; a thick and cottony coating is left all over the mouth and holds the flavors long into the aftertaste; belly is left a little warm from the ABV.

Drinkability: Pretty solid overall, but I find the sweetness to become a bit cloying after a while, not to mention that the 8.5% ABV would definitely have an impact; 12 oz. is good, but I would really have no problem splitting this with someone as well.

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Photo of THORN
4.12/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 Fl. Oz. bottle poured into Snifter. Served around 50 F.
A: Reddish brown with off white foamy head. Retains half an inch.
S: Hops, grapefruit, and brown sugar.
T: Fruity hops, caramelized sugar, and toasted malts. Short cake is followed by sweet bitter linger.
M: Medium light on tongue. Alcohol is somewhat noticeable and is warming.
D: Fully of flavor and well balanced.

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

12oz bottle, $2.99 each in MI. No description of the beer on the bottle, cool label though.

The beer pours a dark orange-copper color with a thin off-white wet-looking head. It smells kind of IPA-ish to me, stronger in hops than anything else, strong malt in the background to contrast it. The beer tastes not at all like I expected from the aroma. Hops are there for sure, but along with that is some peppercorn and more noticeable ethanol than 8.5% ABV would indicate. Strongly bitter aftertaste, seemingly from hops.

The beer is thicker than usual, coupled with the ethanol flavor I suspect this might be >8.5% ABV. But who knows... Anyway it is more a sipper than chugger, but the glass is draining quickly nonetheless. Another great Bell's beer.

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

A: Copper amber, perfectly clear, and a huge off white head. Looks nice.

S: Lots of strong caramel are coming up from this. There is a huge hop scent; pungent, sticky, and earthy. Something sweet in the back, perhaps maple syrup, and raisons.

T: Taste follows the smell, malty, syrupy with hints of maple. The hops are there, slightly bitter, and earthy, but they are in the background. Nice, and it tastes like it was brewed with no effort, as if one day someone said: Let there be beer; and it was good.

M: Medium bodied but the carbonation lightens it up a bit.

D: Very tasty, not amazing, but overall well put together, and balanced. Not earth shaking, but just plain good.

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Photo of sitarist
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear amber color, a nice steady stream of bubbles rise up to a fingers worth of off white head, the head falls to a top coating that leaves rings/webs of lacing.

Smells like cocaine? Im smelling pine, tropical fruits and citrus...very pungent with hints of toffee.

Taste is sweet and fruity up front with a peppery heat and numbing on the back-end. Reminds me of juicy fruit! There is a big malt body, but the hops still shine and dominate the flavors; at least when fresh.

Medium body with a velvety fizz...just a bit of bite.

This beer reminds me of Nugget Nectar! No wow factor??? Maybe because everything is so well balanced!!! This is one fine beer IMO.

Consume this one fresh if you can.

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Photo of drxandy
3.7/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz to tulip glass, pours a nice reddish copper shade with a creamy head that lingers nicely - good lacing

smells of citrusy fruit punch hops, sweet and malty, pineapple

taste is quite sweet indeed, almost syrupy body, carbonation is light, hop balance to sweetness is not what i'm looking for,seems a little off balance fresh - with a little age this could be tastier imo

mouthfeel is syrupy and thick, bitter finish, overall not bad, but not amazing

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Photo of WeisGuy
3.48/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle - Batch 9871

a - pours a deep copper color, one-finger ivory head with decent retention and lacing, slight haze

s - surprisingly hoppy aroma with lots of orange and pineapple hop notes, substantial caramel malt and light biscuit malt as well, very faint boozy heat

t - much less hoppy on the flavor than on the aroma, moderately sweet up front with lots of caramel and bready flavors, orange and pineapple bitter hop notes on the midpalate with the moderate bitterness flowing into the finish and cutting the caramel sweetness, light boozy heat lingers on the palate along with some orange marmalade notes

m - full bodied, moderate carbonation, nice alcohol warming, pretty well-balanced finish

d - not overly drinkable, flavors are just kind of dull and not interesting for what I usually expect from Bell's, that said, it's still an above average beer

A little bit of a letdown mainly because I have high expectations for a Bell's special release beer. Worth trying if it finds shelves in your area, but I'd stick with a single or two rather than a sixer.

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Bell's 25th Anniversary Ale from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
3.74 out of 5 based on 513 ratings.
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