Rohr’s hosts Bites and Brews night for local community and students
A row of Notre Dame students stretched all the way down the long, window-lined hallway inside the Morris Inn, as everyone waited with excitement for the Bell’s Brewery Bites and Brews event to begin. Hosted at Rohr’s Restaurant in the Morris Inn, the beer tasting drew students and locals out of their homes on a Wednesday night to sample four of Bell’s Brewery’s most popular beers.
Bell’s is a regional craft brewery, founded in 1985 and located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The brewery employs over 400 people and operates in 23 states across the country. According to its website, Bell’s hopes to provide an “authentic and pleasant experience to all … customers through … unique ales and beers.”
Each of the four beers served at the event was paired with a small appetizer created by the Morris Inn culinary staff to bring out the unique flavors of the brews. For only $15, each participant received four beer samples and four tasters, along with one full-sized beer of choice among the four samples.
Attendees were able to choose any seat inside Rohr’s dimly lit restaurant, and the beer stations were spread out across the room, allowing participants to begin with any beer and travel around to pick up samples at their own pace.
The first station paired an amber ale with a braised short rib, a small piece of tender meat garnished with slivers of roasted onion. The ale had a mellow, light flavor that was complemented by the smoky flavor of the meat.
One of Bell’s most popular beers, an India Pale Ale (IPA) called Two-Hearted, was served with two types of tacos, one duck confit and the other pork carnitas. The duck taco contained a spicy adobo sauce and pineapple salsa, while the pork had pico de gallo, guacamole, and Coloradito mole. IPAs like Two-Hearted are known for their bitter taste, which comes from the extra amount of hops used in the brewing process. This bitter flavor helped to cut through the complex flavors of the tacos.
The next beer was called a Consecrator Doppelbock, paired with sauerkraut balls. The word “doppelbock” comes from the German and means “double bock,” a strong, dark version of a regular German Bockbier. This beer is made with more malt than hops, meaning that the finished product has very little bitterness. Despite several students’ fears that this appetizer would be simply a rolled up ball of sauerkraut, it was actually a fried dough ball with only a hint of sauerkraut flavor. The doppelbock had an almost sweet, vanilla-like taste that balanced out the harsher bite of the sauerkraut.
Finally, the brewery served a double cream stout, which had strong notes of coffee and chocolate, as well as a remarkably smooth finish due to the 10-malt blend used in its production. This beer came with a small dish of chocolate mousse, inexplicably topped with pink peppercorn and a brandied cherry. The mousse itself was sweet, but there was a general consensus among those present that putting pepper on top of chocolate is never the right move.
The best part of the dessert was the white chocolate triangle resting next to the cherry. Because the pepper made the mousse difficult to stomach, it was hard to tell whether or not the beer flavor complimented the dessert, but its coffee flavor certainly made the beer itself a fan favorite, especially for those who prefer darker brews.
As the students walked around the room and gathered up the beer samples, representatives from Bell’s gave a brief introduction to the brewery and handed out complimentary items. Small pins for each beer, as well as stickers, were available at each beer station, and 11 students received a pair of Bell’s sunglasses for answering a trivia question about the brewery.
In the fall of 2014, a Bell’s sister brewery opened in Escanaba, Michigan, called Upper Hand Brewery. This brewery is a division of Bell’s but is brewing and selling completely different beers, including a Christmastime speciality beer.
The four unique beers present at this tasting had me ready to head to the nearest store and try out more Bell’s favorites, such as the 2016 new release Hopslam, a hoppy double IPA, and their Smitten Golden Rye Ale, an American Pale Ale.
Alexandra DeSanctis is a senior who just turned 21 in mid-December. She’s very excited that she’s finally allowed to go do things with the fun kids, and she is proud of be a fan of Bell’s “too bitter” IPA Two-Hearted. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.