Happy new year! I'm kicking off 2012 with the latest bottled offering from Franciscan Well: a re-creation of their old winter seasonal Bell Ringer, one which has been out of circulation for nearly a decade now. Once again we're dealing with a tower of a one-litre bottle, for extra festiveness.
The pour is impressive: a thick and creamy layer of foam over a dark red-amber body. The aroma is lightly laced with ripe summer fruits: strawberries and raspberries. A bitterness gets added to this on tasting, but only a little. Part of me is relieved it's not overly sharp or cloyingly sweet, but a different part of me wishes there was more going on. We're not a million miles away from Irish red here, albeit of the better sort, with a bit more welly in the alcohol department (6.5% ABV) and a bigger wallop from the generous bittering hops.
Like its predecessor in the Franciscan Well bottled series, Shandon Century, I could happily have a pint of this. Hopefully its return will be on a bit more of a permanent basis.
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