Chicagoist's Beer of the Week: Bell's Two Hearted IPA

By Jason Baldacci in Food on Feb 7, 2014 9:20PM

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This week, we're taking a look at an iconic, Midwestern beer that just garnered some high praise from another corner of the internet.

We would consider Bell's Two Hearted to be a quintessential American IPA, but according to ratebeer.com it's the best IPA in the world. While many people who read Beer of the Week every Friday have probably tasted Two Hearted before, we're taking this opportunity to revisit the classic. There's a restrained, tropical fruitiness on the nose, along with a tiny floral tone but this beer really comes alive on the palate with a burst of citrus right up front, a pop of pine that gives an assertive bite of bitterness towards the finish that lingers a bit and reminds us of what it's like to chew on a lemon peel (in a good way). There's also a considerable amount of malt backbone to this beer, which keeps Two Hearted easy-drinking by lending a touch of caramel sweetness to keep the bitterness palatable for most drinkers. At 7 percent alcohol content, Two Hearted is deceptively sessionable and considered by many IPA drinkers today to be "not that hoppy." It's important to remember, though, that this beer is one of the earlier renditions of American IPAs. When it was new most American drinkers had never had anything this bitter before and most of the other "best" IPAs in the world hadn't even been dreamed by their brewers yet.

Personally, we're not big on using the word "best" to describe any beer, since we believe the world of beer is much too broad for calling anything the best. Don't get us wrong, if ratebeer.com is going to compile a list of the "best" IPAs in the world, we're extremely happy to see a Midwestern beer at the top and even happier to see a beer that's widely distributed and readily available to a large amount of craft beer drinkers. Many of the other entries on the list are beers that are very limited and relatively unavailable to the greater part of the country. That being said, taste is subjective, which is why we shy away from calling beers the best here at Chicagoist. Despite the popularity of hop-forward beers, there are still plenty of people who don't care for them, which is perfectly fine. A lot of people don't like to drink black coffee, straight espresso, or bitter liquors like Chicago's beloved Malort and that's all totally fine. In this column, we strive to highlight beers that are unique or significant to Chicago, give you an idea of what they might taste like, and tell you where to find them. The best beer, in our opinion, is the one that happens to be sitting on the bar in front of you at any given time.

Two Hearted is available all over the place in 12-ounce bottles and on draft. If your corner store doesn't have it for some reason, check beermenus.com to see where you can pick some up this weekend.