At first, I didn’t think much of this beer. Simple bottle design notwithstanding, it just didn’t blow me away when I popped the cap and poured it out. A nice amber color (go figure) and decent head. Hints of bread and caramel wafting in your nose…almost akin to a bock. Low carbonation. But nothing really screaming “drink me!” What’s with the egret? Is this really Bell’s flagship brew?

Yes, ladies and gents, it is. And for no reason other than (from what I can tell), it’s simple and classy. Oberon might get a lot of rep from college students trying to expand their horizons beyond Blue Moon and Shock Top, but nothing says flagship like a steady, well-balanced dark(er) ale. Bell’s Amber doesn’t impress as much at colder temperatures, although it does manage to give you a touch of subtle grassy bitterness before those Munich malts kick in. But I’m grateful for the German influence here; the toasty caramel flavor really pairs well with the American hops used (not sure which ones). Think along the lines of a slightly more hop-balanced maibock and you won’t be far off. It’s also not too carbonated; smoother is definitely better with an amber like this.

To tell the truth, the room temperature dregs of the bottle I’m currently polishing off are actually some of the best beer dregs I’ve had in a while. Caramel and toffee notes really shine and it’s a bit more boozy. You definitely don’t have to sip it…but I would recommend prolonging the experience to get to this point. Flagship indeed; a pleasant, malty release from my IPA-infused summer.

ABV: 5.8%

Grade: B