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And the Valley Drinks: Bells Oberon and Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

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Two top-shelf crafts now available locally.

It's probably not a huge surprise that there's an overlap between college football and craft beer twitter, so it's fairly common to hear a lot of different names from big craft beer states all over the country. But much like Founders, one of the constants is Bells Brewing of Michigan. Through a former co-worker, I was able to try their famous Two-Hearted Ale last summer, but as of the past week, they are officially in Louisiana.

Thank you Bells people. I'll send you word of where to find your grandmother in a week or so, once the heat has quieted down. Sorry about her finger.

Their landmarks are Two-Hearted, Amber Ale and Oatsmobile Pale Ale, which are starting to pop up at your grocery or liquor store (and with this being American Craft Beer Week, you can expect a ton of reviews coming). But they also have a seasonable Wheat Ale, Oberon, which has always had a pretty great rep.

Bell's Oberon is a wheat ale fermented with Bell's signature house ale yeast, mixing a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. The addition of wheat malt lends a smooth mouthfeel, making it a classic summer beer.

Its available until Labor Day, and it's a pretty great grillin' or yardwork beer.

Review

Looks the part of a wheat ale with a bright, slightly orange-y yellow color, and a sweet aroma, that has some citrus notes but not that pine-y smell of a pale ale. The open, however, does have a bit of those hoppy, pale notes, but only briefly. From there, you role to a lightly sweet, malty middle with just a hint of fruitiness that you'd kind of expect from this style of beer. It's kind of hard to pinpoint the flavor exactly -- the sweetness is kind of like an orange, but with a hint of lemon to kind of cut it. Solid, very drinkable beer for warm weather. Four stars out of five.

Meanwhile, Colorado's Left Hand hit the Louisiana market about two months back, including their flagship, Milk Stout Nitro. If you've been out west for a ski trip recently, you might have given this one a whirl:

Taking America Back. Dark & delicious, America's great milk stout will change your perception about what a stout can be. Pouring hard out of the bottle, Milk Stout Nitro cascades beautifully, building a tight, thick head like hard whipped cream. The aroma is of brown sugar and vanilla cream, with hints of roasted coffee. The pillowy head coats your upper lip and its creaminess entices your palate. Initial roasty, mocha flavors rise up, with slight hop & roast bitterness in the finish. The rest is pure bliss of milk chocolate fullness.

The nitro comes from the fact that this beer uses nitrogen gas instead of carbon dioxide for the process, creating a very different texture. Think Guinness -- and you also have to pour it similarly:

Review:

This has a neutral bouquet and a really light open, which highlights the creamy texture. If you're the kind of person that can get overwhelmed by the heavy flavor of a stout, this is a good beer to try. It's pretty straight forward with the coffee flavor of the roasted malts, and the lactose sugar balances it well. Kind of a no-frills stout, but that's a good thing. Think of it as stout training wheels, especially if they intimidate you a little. 4.25 out of five stars.