At Sommbeer we’re big on community, especially within the realm of craft beer. For us, being a site that is based out of the great state of Michigan, we’re pretty blessed by a bevy of fantastic beer that hits our store shelves year round. Every state has their local breweries that have earned the respect and trust of the community that they reside in, Michigan has a few breweries like that. At the top of that list is Bell’s, not only do they consistently crank out fantastic beers but both David and myself have strong family roots in Kalamazoo, home of the Bells Eccentric Cafe and Taproom . So to put it lightly, when Bell’s releases a new beer, Sommbeer takes notice, and the recent release of Oatsmobile is no exception.
Session beers are the “Light beer” of the craft beer world. Made to be easy to drinking and refreshing, they are also defined by their relatively low alcohol content (less than 5%). Session beers present a real challenge for a brewer accustomed to making rich full-bodied beers.
It requires a skilled brewer to make a flavorful and interesting beer in this category. Oatsmobile specifically is a session pale ale that, as the name suggests, highlights oats as it’s featured ingredient. Three different styles of hops are still loaded into Oatsmobile keeping it unique and as flavorful as any session pale ale that comes to mind.
Full disclosure, we gave this beer it’s own private Sommbeer bottle release. Both David and myself have a ton of respect for Bells, so we felt it would be fair for both of us to weigh in on this new addition to their year round lineup. Additionally David and myself both like/love rich dark beers even in the summer time. For David, his favorite summer beer is Guinness Draught, as it’s light bodied and slightly dry. For me, I’m all over the map but tend to gravitate to dank sticky IPA’s or a variety more Germanic beers. That being said we both agree that there is room for a good session beer, but it really is takes a skilled brewer like Bells to make a successful session ale.
First thing to take notice of with Oatsmoblie is it’s color. I poured the beer and noticed the color didn’t lighten up as it left the brown bottle and filled our pints with a rich golden copper ale. Chasing the visually appealing pour was a surprisingly strong nose with the delightful aroma of hops. The beer is not overly hopped but balanced just right so that the oats and grains are really showcased. Oatsmobile is somewhat highly carbonated but it doesn’t overpower you as a heady beer. The head calms is self down fairly quickly as the beer drops out of gear and cruises like a 87 Cutlass rolling down Woodward during the dream cruise.
Was it the oats mixing with the malt? Were the oats giving this beer some extra body and mouth feel? The flavor was just complex enough to make me think and ponder. I have never pondered on a session beer before. Oatsmobile isn’t a beer that runs you over with any one flavor. It’s an extremely well-balanced malty beer with a distinct hop presence that is extremely drinkable. Lastly the brew finishes dry, really dry, but in that dry finish the sweetness of the hops peak back through with just a hint of bitterness. Wow I do love that!
Will the dry finish appeal to everyone though? I’m not sure unless it is recognized by the market as a good hot weather beer, perfect for summer days spent fishing, boating or pondering beer. I also think this will be a fantastic beer to pair up with a variety of different foods. After drinking about half a bottle I seriously considered firing up the barbecue and throwing some bratwurst on to compliment this beer. Oatsmobile would also be a fantastic beer to introduce people to craft beer. Much like Sierra Nevada’s iconic Pale Ale it’s got a ton of flavor packed into a 12oz bottle, but the well-balanced lighter body should give Oatsmobile a large market appeal that can draw in beer drinkers that might be overwhelmed by big IPA’s or Stouts.
Bell’s nailed it. They made a session beer true to form with its drinkability and low alcohol. However they were crafty. They replaced the lost elements from heavier beers by attacking the senses – dark color, pungent aroma, high carbonation and complex grain flavor. Regardless if you’re a veteran to the world of craft beer or just beginning your journey of rediscovering the joy of beer we can assure you that if you stop by the David’s house or find me tailgating out in East Lansing the Sommbeer staffers will have Oatsmobile in our fridge.