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.
Kevin Gibson is a Louisville, Ky.-based free-lance writer who writes about everything from food to music to beer to bourbon to professional football. He loves bacon, loathes cucumbers and once interviewed Yoko Ono (pissed her off a little, too). He is author of "Louisville Beer: Derby City History on Draft" (2014, History Press). He published his first novel, "The Liberation of Crystal Hill" (Bearhead Publishing), in 2011; he also published "Crohn's Disease: A Memoir from the Toilet" in January 2015 and his currently working on two more book projects. He co-hosts a weekly local radio show, and also plays in a couple of bands, the Uncommon Houseflies and the Nick Peay Band. Not surprisingly, he doesn't sleep much. But when he isn't running around town chasing stories or poised at his trusty laptop writing, you can often find him at one of the local breweries and being thankful for the life he lives. That, or he'll be sitting on his couch with his trusty sidekick Darby. Check out his beer blog, 502Brews.com, or his website, KevinGibsonWriter.com, to find out more about his books and why he does what he does. Or feel free to call him names on Twitter: @kgramone.