A tasty treat with no delusions of grandeur
A Review of Hell's Belle by Big Boss Brewing Co.
Posted on 3/19/2012 by Chops
When it comes to reviewing local beers, it's easy to get caught up in regional comparisons. This is fine and all because it's important for beer fans to identify the gems of their local markets. On the other hand, it's also important (as well as unfortunate sometimes) to compare local beers to the world-wide market and rate them accordingly. This poses an obvious dilemma, especially when dealing with styles that have a deeply rooted historic tradition and centuries of practice. Belgian beers in particular fall under a merciless scrutiny, which can undermine beers that are otherwise delicious by general standards. One such beer in my local market is the Hell's Belle by the Big Boss Brewing Co.

In the glass, this beer has a rich semi-hazy orange coloration. It comes with a sudsy white head that dissipates quickly. The aroma consists of a warm citrus and some tangy hop notes. I also found a few hints of clove and that signature Belgian yeast. Belgians as a whole have an inherent complexity from start to finish, but Hell's Belle comes across as much lighter and simpler version. So going into that first sip, I was expecting a much easier drinking Belgian Blond Ale with the body of a Witbier.

Oddly enough, the hop profile makes its presence known first and appends a delightful zesty quality to the Belgian yeasts. The configuration works well, but is quite atypical for the style. The citrus flavor acts as more of a base, a malt compliment if you will, rather than a dominant flavor. I found a few nondescript spice notes swirling around, but could not properly identify them. The finish is oddly bitter for a Belgian Blond Ale and comes across as a chalky IPA. Belgian fans will probably find the hop profile to be a little distracting and it definitely creates a stylistic imbalance. Do not get me wrong though, this is certainly a tasty brew, just not a great Belgian.

Overall, Big Boss' Hell's Belle is a tasty brew with a skewed interpretation. It's an easy drinking and refreshing beer with a Belgian flare. I can recommend this brew to any level of beer fan, just not to Belgian purists. Again, I never got the impression that Big Boss was out to make a competitive Belgian Blond Ale. It's not, and compared to the rest of the Belgian market, it's okay. But on the flip side, Hell's Belle is a fantastic bridge beer for novices to explore as well as a great session brew for seasoned drinkers. My advice would be to enjoy this beer for what it is: a tasty regional treat with no delusions of grandeur.

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Hell's Belle by Big Boss Brewing Co.
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