Bell’s Mars

What’s old is new again. At least that seems to be the case lately, particularly in the Midwest. Beers that were more or less considered one time offerings have begun to appear on shelves again. Doom, a barrel-aged double IPA that was part of Founders’ Backstage Series, has been resurrected as part of the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Series (let’s hope the trend continues and CBS is one of the two yet to be named entries in that series). Regional staple Gluek is making a return to the Twin Cities. Stone brought back a ton of retired beers to celebrate its 20th anniversary last year. Even nationally Zima is set to be brought back from the dead. But the first beer that tipped this trend off to me was Mars, a double IPA from Bell’s that originally appeared in 2014.

Mars was the first beer in The Planet Series, a seven-part series of beers inspired by Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite, “The Planets.” Each beer in the series was released between August 2014 and July 2015 and then disappeared. I remember being mildly interested in wanting to try each beer in the series but the limited release nature meant they weren’t easily found in my area and I didn’t care enough to actively seek them out. I did find Saturn, Mercury and Jupiter at the Eccentric Cafe in April of 2015 but missed out on the other four.

I was surprised, then, to see Mars on the shelf at my local bottle shop last month. A double IPA chock full of hops, Mars was perhaps the beer I had originally missed out on that I wanted to get a chance to try. The wait was certainly worth it.

Huge aromas of tropical fruit, citrus and pine burst from the glass. The flavor followed with much of the same but was joined by an expansive malt backbone true to the Midwest interpretation of the double IPA. That robust malt character tempered the hop bitterness, added a touch of sweetness and rounded out the character of the beer. Fittingly for a beer inspired by “The Bringer of War”, Mars is brash, aggressive and intense.

Ideally Mars is a sign of things to come, where long lost favorites return. And even if it’s only an isolated incident, it’s nice to meet an old friend again or make a new one.

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