Beer Review: Bell’s Mars (the Bringer of War) Double IPA

photo by kevin gibson
photo by kevin gibson

In 2014, Bell’s Brewery released Mars (The Bringer of War) Double IPA as part of its Planet series, inspired by the orchestral suite The Planets, by classical composer Gustav Holst. In 2017, it’s back.

Mars is one of those beers that requires some contemplation, and a little patience, because there’s a lot going on. It looks innocent enough when poured into a glass: hazy, copper color that leans toward red, with a medium head that is off-white. Nothing out of the ordinary.

And then you take in a breath of the aroma and find a big earthy, malt-forward nose with underpinnings of pine and citrus. A sip reveals a beer that is highly malty (at least compared to a lot of the IPAs and 2IPAs I’m finding these days), but one that also brightens up nicely once it settles onto the palate.

Mars has a bit of a dense, sticky body, with an immediate sweetness from the ample Munich malts. But it doesn’t end there – and thank goodness, because my taste buds can only handle so much sweetness in an IPA. The beer balances out with that aforementioned pine, along with plenty of tropical citrus flavors – lemon and pineapple jumped out to me – followed by only moderate bitterness in the finish.

As I made my way through the 12 ounces, I noticed that the bitterness swelled somewhat about four or five sips in, while the focal point remained the earthy sweetness of the malts balanced with the fruitiness from the hops. As I said, there’s a lot going on in Mars Double IPA, and the 10.10 percent ABV is a testament to just how much goes into it during the brewing process.

According to the Bell’s website, Mars (The Bringer of War) developed from a trial brew called Larry’s Latest Double IPA, which was created in the brewery’s original location in downtown Kalamazoo, giving it some historical relevance to go with the bold flavors.

And as noted, Mars leads off a year in which a number of recipes will be brought back one by one. Some of those include Quinannan Falls India Pale Lager in June, Special Double Cream Stout in September, and Eccentric Ale, another Bell’s classic, in December.

“We have a lot of exciting plans for next year and we wanted to give our fans and partners a preview,” Laura Bell, Bell’s vice president and co-owner, said.

Mars is available in 12-ounce bottles and on draft while it lasts.