Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Three Rivers Bell Ringer

Much like Carver Brewing Co. in Durango, Three Rivers Brewery in Farmington releases only one bottled beer per year. In both cases for these brewpubs, it's a barley wine.

Three Rivers' Bell Ringer is available now at the brewpub in downtown Farmington in 22-ounce bomber bottles dipped in wax. (Bottles of Carver's Big Grizz Barley Wine are also available now at the Durango brewpub).

Bell Ringer is what the brewery calls an "IPA barley wine," but it's really not so much a new style as a hop-forward take on barley wine.

Bell Ringer, a recurring holiday seasonal, is obviously meant to be a double entendre with its 10.9 percent ABV. Without care, it could indeed lay you out on the canvas.

It pours a deep amber with a modest off-white head that quickly recedes in the face of the strong alcohol content. The hops come in strong, stronger than most barley wines. It doesn't quite have that very well-rounded caramel malt character and deep complexity seen in the best barley wines.

Bell Ringer might be a little bit one-dimensional, but it's still a very good beer. It's definitely one you want to split with others. It might also be a good idea, as the brewery advises, to lay one down for a while to see how it ages. B+

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