High on Hops: Bell’s Brews the Planets

Bell’s Brewery is thinking big with its current series of limited-edition craft beer bottles.

I don’t mean just national or global big. We’re talking solar system big.

Taking inspiration from Gustav Holst’s seven-movement orchestral suite “The Planets”, Bell’s has created seven unique beers celebrating Earth’s closest cousins.

The first in Bell’s Planets series, Mars, The Bringer of War was released last August to wide acclaim. Beer Advocate readers logged over one thousand reviews for Mars and gave the Double IPA an impressive aggregate score of 92/100. It was followed by Venus, The Bringer of Peace and Mercury, The Winged Messenger in October and December, respectively.  Venus and Mercury did not receive the same level of praise as their predecessor; but like Mars, those bottles disappeared quickly and have remained hard to track down.

Eagle-eyed beer shoppers should be able to find Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity in stores now with the remaining three beers released through July 2015.

The Planets series has a special mini-website that streams the music along with providing detailed descriptions of the associated beer to enhance your tasting experience.

 If you haven’t had the opportunity to try Mars, Venus or Mercury, here are my tasting notes on the series so far:

Mars, The Bringer of War
Double India Pale Ale
10.1% ABV

This is a big, burly beer that holds up to its namesake. Mars is maltier and sweeter than a typical IPA but balanced with citrus notes and just enough raw alcohol flavor to remind you to drink slowly.

Venus, The Bringer of Peace
Blonde Ale Brewed With Honey, Apricot, Cardamom, and Vanilla
7.5% ABV

With Venus, the hits of fruity sweetness and robust vanilla clash more than combine for an aggressively flavorful and hugely aromatic beer. That push and pull makes for a smart experimental brewing exercise but keeps the beer from being an everyday palate pleaser.

Mercury, The Winged Messenger
Belgian Single
4.8% ABV

Considered a baseline table beer for brewing monks, the low ABV Belgian Single style is a workingman’s beverage. Mercury fills that role by being a refreshing, mild meld of flavors with a thin mouth feel that is the exact opposite of an extreme beer.

There’s an adage that goes “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” After sampling the beginnings of Bell’s Planets series and listening to Holt’s suite, it’s safe to say that brewing about music gets us much closer to the truth in the art.

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