Hell For Certain
Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's

Hell For CertainHell For Certain
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Brown Ale - Belgian Dark
3.61 | pDev: 13.57%
Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
Kentucky, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Hell For CertainHell For Certain
Reviews: 65 | Ratings: 75 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by merlin48:
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merlin48 from Kentucky

4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much better than their Dark Star Porter(which is decent). This one pours a clear, copper amber, with a better than expected tan head, that leaves some sheet lacing, eventually fading to collar and slick lace. Not a bad appearance. Aroma is plums and dark cherries, banana bread halved with cinamon raisin bread. Pretty good, so far. Mouthfeel has a hoppy bite, and medium carbonation. Very nice for the style. Taste is much better than expected. Plums and cherries, some McIntosh apples, molasses, and some vanilla flavors. Slight floral hop bitterness keeps the sweet fruit flavors from being cloying. Finishes with a fresh and fruity McIntosh apple taste, with a pleasant dryness. Doesn't taste like a strong, Belgian Ale, at all, but is a very nice ale hat deserves its own niche in the heirarchy of American strong ambers.

Feb 19, 2004
More User Reviews:
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Brent from Kentucky

4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Listed here as a dark strong Belgian, I probably would tag it as a dubbel. Some candy sweetness in the nose, malty with sweet, fruity esters. Flavor is on the lighter side for the style (whichever way you want to make the call), but it is a very drinkable interpretation. BBC is no Ommegang, but they brewed a pretty tasty beer here.

Apr 25, 2002
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jdhilt from New Hampshire

3.06/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours with a one-finger off-white head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Clear amber color. Good carbonation, medium bodied. Nose is a nutty spice. Starts malty with underlying hops, finish has some bitterness with hints of sweetness. $1.99 for a 12oz bottle from Liquor Barn, Lexington, KY .

Sep 05, 2004
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jkrich from Florida

3.79/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a 10 oz. glass of this at a local eatery in Jeffersonville, IN.

Poured a deep, golden, almost bronze like color with a small foamy white head. It was very clear with multiple bubbles.

The only disappointing aspect of this beer was the aroma; I simply could not discern much. There was an indistinct sweet aroma, but not much else.

The taste was somewhat sweet (though never cloying even after it warmed) with a grainy, biscuit like flavor. The taste became a little more complex as the ale warmed. As I have had very little experience with this style, I don't know if it is a good representation of the style. I did expect more complexity.

Moderately carbonated and medium bodied; left some sweetness on the tongue.

For a 6.6 ABV this is extremely drinkable, but I don't think I could drink many of them because of the sweetness. I would definately order it again.

Nov 27, 2008
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Viking from Indiana

4.42/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

'Hell for Certain' is very pleasant surprise. Based on what I've had from BBC and heard from others, I expected a very good Belgian-style brew. What I got was an amazing Belgian-style brew! It has a rich aroma of fruit and peppery spice. The flavor starts rather fruity and finishes with a dry, spicy taste. I also notice a lingering taste of apple as an aftertaste. Very good with an assortment of cheeses, but better alone.

Aug 22, 2002
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aracauna from Georgia

3.64/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

The body is a distinctly reddish medium brown body with a buttery head that is small and fades fairly quickly. It's clear and seems like it's probably filtered. The aroma is extremely fruity (honeydew melon and apples, maybe a little grape), honey, a little clove. The flavor is just as nice, but it's so short. You get this big blast of a great flavor (like La Trappe Dubbel without the cloying sweetness), but it doesn't linger. The body is lacking a bit too. I think it's because it's not bottle conditioned. If they'd stick this in a 750 and let it bottle condition to carbonate instead of what their doing, they'd have an excellent beer here.

Feb 25, 2004
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zerk from California

4.35/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a slightly hazy light copper, with hints of red. Has a tin white head that leaves rings of lace on the glass. Aroma of tropical fruit, vanilla, some pepper, and a bit of alcohol. Flavor is brilliant! Musty fruits... apple and pineapple combine with vanilla, and some yeasty notes, finishing with some spice. Has a smooth, almost velvety full body.

This is a wonderful brew from a brewery that I'm gaining a great amount of respect for!

Mar 03, 2003
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aaronh from Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Cloudy reddish copper body, topped by a long lasting cream colored head with a slight orange tint, much like flames atop the fire. The aroma is very malty and sweet, with a slight hop and alcohol note. Also a hint of spiciness of some sort. The taste is very nice, with a slightly fruity profile that is then follwed by a long bitter finsh that has some great peppery spice. The taste has a feel of a dubbel and a strongly estered hefe marriage and is truly unique, truly enjoyable. The mouthfeel is very creamy and robust while still having a slightly effervescent fine-bubbled carbonation that seems to rebuild the head with every sip. The drinkability is also great, combining powerful flavors and a carnal enjoyment with a moderate mouthfeel. Not sure where the name comes from, but this one is sinfully good.

(This review prompted by the death of Uday and Qasay Hussein: It's a Hell for Certain for you!)

Jul 23, 2003
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Hell For Certain reminded me right off the bat of an English style barleywine with its luxurious, fruity, sweet and caramel-soaked maltiness; and full bodied, pillowy mouthfeel. And, in fact, it even looks like one with its hazy, reddish, deep-copper body and frothy tan head. And not to beat a dead horse, but it kind of smells like one too.... there's not much really-specific Belgian yeast character coming through in the nose (it is fruity and floral though, with notes of peach, tangerine, and tropical fruits). More Belgian" yeast character is present in the flavor, however, with a soft phenolic note and delicate touch of spice that helps dry it out (and overall it's just not as agressive as an English barleywine). The bitterness is balancing and it finishes dry despite the amount of malty sweetness that initially hits the tongue. It's nicely rounded and very drinkable. And somewhere in the aroma, and then again in the flavor, is a thread of orange-like fruitiness (and even some pineapple) that's quite nice and very memorable! There are some low-level leafy hops as well, and they appear almost tea-like once it warms. A unique, satiating, satifying, and thoroughly enjoyable ale that's certainly worth trying!

May 12, 2005
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Jon from Michigan

3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bright garnet with a thin layer of bubbles. Lacks substantial head and lace, but attractive,nonetheless. Fresh nose of apricot, yeast, coriander and peppercorn. Ripe fruit, namely apricot, in addition to coriander, pepper and a definite presence of earthy hops make up the flavor profile of this ale. As the beer reaches room temperature, the beer turns fruitier and spicier, creating a two-dimensional flavor with pronounced citrus character. Mouthfeel is fairly creamy, smooth, well-carbonated, and honestly better than expected. A very drinkable Belgian-style ale from Bluegrass in what I'd imagine is to be similar to the Dubbel style. Overall, a tasty beer, though a bit lacking in true Belgian character.

Nov 24, 2003
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bditty187 from Nebraska

3.72/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Slightly hazy, bronzy-copper-amber in hue, attractive, there wasn’t much of a head that formed. Actually, there wasn’t any head, just a small collar, almost naked in the middle. I think the foam is off-white in color; there really isn’t much to look at. There was no subsequent lacing. This beer is dull in appearance for a Belgium-style beer. The nose isn’t very chatty and it doesn’t speak with much of a Belgian accent. Sugary-sweet and alcoholic are the main aromas; behind this are some fruity notes (mainly melons) and a kiss of rinds (from the hops I assume?). At the back is some nondescript maltiness. I can’t say the bouquet impresses me much, it is not bad but too close to boring. So, I can’t call it inviting. The palate is good; it has a malty-backbone that reminds me of McChouffe. HFC is fruiter though; I like the apple flavors, pears, melons, and juicy tropical fruit. Hmm… a Belgium Amber Ale maybe? This beer is plenty sweet, almost too sweet for me. Sugary in the middle, by the finish the beer does dry out just enough to make it quaffable, the hop bitterness is moderate but firm enough for balance by the end. There are enough flavors going on for me to care. However, “enough” doesn’t make this a great beer. It is too clean for one thing. I’d drink it again. Once at room temperature I liked it much more, as more layers of flavors could be enjoyed. This is obviously the way to drink this beer, slightly cooler than cellar temperature didn’t work out as well. Medium in body, a tickle thin and watery, the carbonation is a bit too low as well. If the carbonation was livelier and the body was bigger this beer would be much better. This is only the truly negative thing I can say about this beer. It is drinkable and likable. It is friendly but not aggressive enough my tastes. But this is yet another solid offering from the BBC, thanks SheepNutz for the sample. Worth a try.

Aug 20, 2004
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Gusler from Arizona

4.18/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Fantastic beer to see setting in the glass, an eye pleasing cherry red with a masterful head that is light tan in color, with the lace glutinous sheets that cling mightily to the glass. Over ripe pineapple aroma’s, hints of fusel alcohol, malt, sweet and a real “Sniffer”. Start dominated by the malt, the top middling in feel, the finish purposeful in it acidity, the hops meaningful in their spicy bite, dry aftertaste that is somewhat sour, quite reminiscent of a Flanders Red Sour Ale, a real yummy for the tummy and the palate.

Dec 20, 2002
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brewdlyhooked13 from Ohio

3.38/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - pours with a small head, off-white in color. Has a pretty, translucent reddish-orange glow like it has somehow tapped into the power grid. A bit of sediment was poured in and is visible in the liquid, but I left most of it in the bottle.

Aroma - fruity, like apples...make that *fermented* apples. Not very developed in the nose, but it smells nice.

Taste - sweet beginning. A general fruit taste but I can't pick out specifics. Some hop bitterness gives a grapefruit slant at the end of the taste. My mouth feels a little tingly in back and there is a definite alcohol presence, interesting for a beer that isn't *that* far above average in its abv.

Mouthfeel - good bubbles, not as heavy as I was expecting. Decent.

Drinkability - tastes stronger than it is. A beer I could enjoy several of, but the overstated alcohol feel may make you leery of having too many.

Mar 09, 2004
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francisweizen from Alaska

3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured a nice copper colour with an off-white head, that held up quite well in my sample cup. The aromas were of candy sugar, belgian yeast, hops, alcohol, various spices and fruits. The taste was a little metallic, boozy, and spicy with some hops and yeast in the background and on the finish. The mouthfeel was sharp and crisp, but a little harsh, and the drinkability suffered a little bit. I'm glad I got to try this though...I'd say it is the Kentucky version of Lucifer, and not quite the Strong *Dark* ale it is listed as!


Sep 22, 2003
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feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bright, shining crimson color, under a very thin layer of off-white foam.
Aroma, full of fruit, big orange, peach, and more, rich and inviting, spicy, citric, very nice.
Taste: great blast on the palate initially, a aflush with fruit and spice, again, warm and friendly, with a ticklish tingle from a cinnamon/clove-like spicy contingent. Delish. Yeah, I'm talking yum, and I mean it!
Were I situated in the Bluegrass State, I'm drink their supply dry, I'm pretty certain.
"Devilishly Good Belgian Style Ale", say the label, and I particularly dig the Satanic chap on the label, but I can't say for sure which style they're emulating here. Not a dubbel, not quite a tripel...a tripel meets a wit, with a touch of saison?
Doesn't matter, it's damned delicious!
Thanks, Sheepnutz!

Jun 17, 2004
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Mitchster from Michigan

4.04/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out to a clear dark-amber with flittering bits of suspended gunk, forming a small beige head with poor retention and absent lacing. Aroma is interesting, but not at all Belgian...there is a fresh piney resinous hop aroma with some redolent plum and amber malts, alcohol, and a notable lack of any phenols or esters typical of a Belgian ale. The mouthfeel is smooth with a soapy finish and medium body. Carbonation is mild to moderate, requiring a vigorous pour to form a head. The taste consists of pinous hops, a hint of cedar, amber malts, and soy sauce. Bitterness level is mild. The finish is watery in texture with a prolonged piney hop flavor, akin to Stone BC. Otherwise clean. With the mellow carbonation and smooth mouthfeel, it's easy to finish the bottle.

I don't know where they get calling this a "Belgian Style Ale". It's lacking of any Belgian characteristics, and judging by the other reviews here, I think I am drinking a completely different beer! If anything it tastes like an Arrogant Bastard mixed 40/60 with a crummy Leiny Bock and left to stand for 1/2 hour. Despite this, if it were available in my area and really cheap, I would probably drink this stuff.

Apr 01, 2004
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SheepNutz from Kentucky

3.86/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this brew on tap in a tulip-style glass. It pours a deep red with one finger of head. There is no lacing left on the glass. The smell consists of cloves with a little bit of fruitiness and some hops. The taste is a little bit of citrus and spice with a bit of a hops finish. The body is just a little light for this style, but not bad overall. It has a fairly nice drinkability also. Not a bad try at a belgian!

Jun 27, 2003
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KroMagnon from Tennessee

3.73/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I originally assumed this was going to be stronger than it actually is, but once I saw the ABV I realized its just a little stronger than the 'average' brew. The color is a rich amber and the head dissipates rather quickly. The aroma features a slight sniff of munich malt and an ester hint, maybe raisin, and that's about it. Not unpleasant but not terribly strong either. The taste is pretty nice, malty sweet without being cloying, kind of light, with a crisp follow-through and some spiciness (cinnamon, mild fruit cake like flavors) that are pleasant but not really strong. This is a nice beer, not what I was expecting, but more an everyday beer for sure...or for certain. I dont want to call this "more accessible", because I think its a tasty beer and that moniker makes it seem like a macro, but the brew features interesting flavors that compliment many things without being overpowering.

Nov 13, 2004
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ElGordo from Oregon

3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the 12oz bottle into my Duvel tulip glass. Body is slightly turbid, deep amber in color with bright orange highlights, and topped by a good inch of light brown head that thins out rather quickly. Aroma is mainly spicy, funky Belgian yeast, with notes of brown sugar and peach. Palate is fairly malty, with caramel and light fruity flavors interplaying with the spicy yeast.
I agree with some other reviewers that this tastes almost more like a barleywine, but the presence of the yeast makes it an unmistakably Belgian-style ale. Body is a touch creamy, but moreover a little foamy and thin. Not a bad beer, and a better effort than I would have expected from a small brewery in Kentucky.

Sep 12, 2006
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hotstuff from Indiana

3.32/5  rDev -8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

This beer formed a small sized tan head when poured that contained fine sized bubbles that quickly diminished.The body was cloudy and it was carbonated.The hue was copper and the nose was malty, fruity and some alcohol.The flavor was bitter with alcohol and it left an aftertaste.The mouthfeel tingly on my tongue, smooth and medium bodied.There was no lacing with this beer.

Aug 17, 2003
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sulldaddy from Connecticut

4.09/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Another brew from kmpitz2. The beer is poured into a snifter at room temperature. The color is a clear chestnut hue with a soft fluffy beige head of 1cm foaming up and fading to a strong edge ring in my glass.
Aroma is sweet and fruity with white grape and berries mixing with some floral notes. I dont think of hop floral but like a bouquet of wildflowers. There is also some general sugary sweetness.
First sip reveals a relatively lite body with very mild carbonation and the mouthfeel is a little thin.
Flavor is similar to the nose with some light fruit, white grape and pears mixing with caramel. The flavor moves to a slight bitter quality from alcohol not hops. The bitterness is very mild and there is not really any accompanying warming from the booze. An easy drinking beer, but would like it more if more body.

Jan 27, 2006
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clvand0 from Kentucky

3.23/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I did not have high expectations for this brew after having several of the other BBC offerings, but I was surprised. Pours an amber color with a moderate white head and leaves a little lacing on the glass. The aroma is filled with mostly spices and a citrus-type smell. The flavor is much the same - starts out with fruits and spices and finishes a little dry. Similar to the last Belgian dubbel I had, actually. This is a pretty decent offering for a Kentucky based Belgian-style beer, but there are others that are better.

Oct 21, 2003
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beergeek279 from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in the 12 oz. bottle. The color was amber with a good head. The smell was of a very malty, alcohol sweetness. The taste was also quite sweet and flowery, with a bit of an alcohol presence. The mouthfeel was smooth. Drinkability-wise, could have a few more.

Thank you to aaronh for this beer........another enjoyable treat from the Bluegrass people. Not a bad dubbel by any stretch, and certainly another beer that it is a shame isn't distributed around here.

Aug 10, 2003
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Boilermaker88 from California

2.52/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Picked up this BBC offering in West Lafayette, IN during my week-long trip back to the Indianapolis area. Had some rather high hopes for this brew but am left rather disappointed.
Presented in a stubby brown bottle with a "best before" date of Feb 04 on the label edge, Hell For Certain poured a hazy dark orangy-apricot color, like overripe apricots. Despite a large but rather sluggish amount of carbonation, no head formed and no lace was left. The smell an enticing blend of bready malt, soft ripe dark fruits, coriander and pepper. The taste is where Hell For Certain lost me. While initially exibiting a yeasty malt flavor with some dark fruit notes, it transitioned to a spicy, peppery bite and eventually left a sharp metallic tang on the back of my tongue in the finish. The metallic burn lingered long afterward and was a real detractor. The feel was medium-bodied, with a dry edge.
I felt quite let down by this brew. Hell For Certain didn't get any better as it warmed, only imparting an alcohol astringency to go with the palate-killing metal taste. Hell, for certain, at least taste-wise.

Nov 08, 2003
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yankeeheel from Maine

3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a real pretty garnet with a smallish off-white head. Nice layer of lace sets up in the tulip glass.

Smells a little plum like with a hint of cafe behind it.

Tastes downright good. Full of big sweet malty character. Nice smoky underlay supporting a slightly overtoasted nut body. Craemy and caramel like in it's consistency. Finishes slightly astringent.

Mouthfeel is quite full with a real creaminess to it.

Very drinkable. It must be some kind of UK curse that I'm drinking this on the eve of the NCAA's.

Mar 18, 2004
Hell For Certain from Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
Beer rating: 83 out of 100 with 75 ratings