In August Bell’s Brewery Inc. released the first beer in a new limited production line the company is doing based off off Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite called The Planets.1 The first beer, a double India pale ale, is called Mars, The Bringer of War which is name of the first movement of Holst’s suite. Each new beer will be released every two months until the series concludes in 2015.
- Mars, The Bringer of War – Double India Pale Ale – August 2014
- Venus, The Bringer of Peace – Blonde Ale – October 2014
- Mercury, The Winged Messenger – Belgian Single – December 2014
- Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity – Malt Forward Brown Ale – February 2015
- Saturn, The Bringer of Old Age – Bourbon Barrel-aged Barleywine – April 2015
- Uranus, The Magician – Black Double India Pale Ale – May 2015
- Neptune, The Mystic – Mystical Stout – July 2015
Though I don’t see it listed anywhere on their site or their blog posts, this is actually the centennial anniversary of Holst starting to write The Planets suite, though he didn’t finish writing all seven movements until 1916.2 Mars, The Bringer of War has seen it’s themes inspire other music, with some suggesting that John Williams Imperial March and the theme from Super Mario Bros. 3 – Airship Theme both as notable examples.3 Since we’re not here to discuss the finer details of orchestra, let’s get down to the beer that this piece has inspired.
Pouring out half the bottle under the bright studio lights to take the photographs, the beer is a bright transparent orange. Visually, it’s quite pleasing to see the color match up to the planet on the label fairly closely. There’s almost zero head initially as I pour it, but as it sits there the carbonation actually creates a slight bit of one, mostly just around the edge. After the photographs are taken I pour the rest in the glass and a bit of sediment clouds up the appearance along with a little more of a head, though that too quickly dissipates. Bringing the Teku glass up to my nose, I’m instantly greeted with bright hoppy notes and fruity citrus overtones. So far the appearance and aroma of the beer are creating a fantastic experience, not that that guarantees the beer will taste great.
Fortunately, the flavor lives up to the color and nose, though the taste isn’t what I would expect from such a hoppy aroma. Instead it starts out almost juicy, with sweet fruit and malt notes that move quickly back into a vivid hoppy bitterness with a some citrus overtones – mostly intense lemon with a touch of orange. The finish is a bit different, with a some pine and waxy, dry lemon zest. Though it’s a higher ABV, the alcohol doesn’t actually register on my palate, only giving the tell tale sign of a slight warmth in my chest and throat.4 The mouthfeel is light to medium without being airy or watery and has just the right amount of carbonation.