The Wench is most definitely a story teller. I have been this way since I was a kid. Growing up, all the kids in the neighborhood used to sit around for hours listening to my crazy tales. I had one story called “The Blob” that I swear lasted for weeks. In fact, I am pretty sure I never ended it.
I almost rarely ever review beers without telling some sort of story about the brewery and the background of the beer. For me, it is these stories that add a completely new dimension to the whole beer tasting experience.
Today’s story is about Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale.
Two-Hearted will always hold a special place in my heart. It was my first IPA, and you always remember your first IPA. I had never experienced anything like it before. Citrus and pine aromas, wickedly bitter taste, super dry finish. It was flavorful and intense. It smacked me in the face and made me beg for more.
I will never forget that fateful night in Columbus, OH. At the time, I was a complete wine geek studying for sommelier certification. My good friend Zach was (and still is) a total beer geek and beginner homebrewer. We met up at a local craft beer bar called Bodegas, where I was introduced to The Two-Hearted.
I suppose I consider Bell’s Two-Hearted to be my “hop epiphany.” That beer turned me into a full-fledged hophead. From the moment I tasted it, I became obsessed with hops. I searched high and low for the hoppiest beers I could find. But, at the end of the day, I always came home to Two-Hearted.
Two-Hearted became an integral point of my life after that. It was my go to beer. Although I loved trying new beers everywhere I went, Two-Hearted was my fallback crush. I drank that beer like it was water. Pint after pint, everyday for almost 2 years.
Some of my best memories with some of my best friends involved Two-Hearted. All of my favorite local watering holes served it — including my favorite bar in the entire city of Columbus, Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails.
Oh Tip Top, how I miss thee. That bar is the epitome of everything I look for in a great bar –> dark, divey yet swanky interior, fantastic craft beer, excellent whiskey cocktails, great wine, amazing bar-style food made from local ingredients (and ingredients from the roof garden), an outdoor patio, wonderful staff, privately owned and dedicated to the local community. Overall, Tip Top just has a great ambiance. And I could ride by bike there, which was icing on the cake.
I have many happy memories of swilling down pints of Two-Hearted, sitting on the patio of Tip Top, noshing on sweet potato fries and eggplant fries with the house-made Bloody Mary dipping sauce, playing Apples to Apples for hours upon hours with some of the best friends I have ever had in my life.
Those were the days my friend, those were the days.
Ultimately, an itch inside The Wench took me away from the city of which I have so many fond memories to a new city, where I was virtually alone, with no friends and no bars “where everyone knows your name.”
But I was not entirely alone. Lucky for me, Bell’s had distribution in Orlando. And I found a local wine bar that served Two-Hearted on tap. On the days when nothing seemed to go right and it felt like the whole world was against me, I found myself sitting at that very bar, visiting my old friend Two-Hearted, and with every sip, all my trouble would just melt away.
Now I am not talking about an alcoholics moment, where turning to booze helped me to escape reality. I am talking about nostalgia. I am referring to the “mom’s apple pie” concept. You are old and grown, your wife wants a divorce, your kids hate you, you just got fired from your job — and then you go home, to mama’s house, and as you walk in the door you get a big whiff of her homemade apple pie, and then, in that moment, everything is alright.
That is the effect that Two-Hearted has on me. It is a psychosomatic response. Two-Hearted has only brought me pleasure. Once my senses experience it, I fall into a comma of pure bliss, pure happiness, pure zen.
Last year, I moved to California. And although our West Coast style IPAs are absolutely amazing, Pliny the Elder and Sculpin are now my two favorite IPAs, no beer gives me that feeling of pure inner peace like Two-Hearted.
Last week, a good friend of mine (fellow beer blogger James Marks), visited me from Columbus. And with him he brought out Bell’s Two-Hearted and Bell’s Hopslam. And tonight I decided to pop open a Two-Hearted. And as soon as I did, the memory flood gates opened and I was instantly enveloped by the nostalgia and taken to my happy place.
And so I wonder, do any of you have a “ZEN BEER”? If so, I would love to hear your story!
Thanks for listening to mine!