Thursday, December 16, 2010

440. Bell’s Batch 10,000

The last in a long line of delicious beers. Ah, Batch 10,000, I feel like I hardly know you and your previous siblings, and yet, you’re already part of the past. Before that tear of nostalgia blurs my eyes and makes me unable to type, I’ll note that we’ve previously tried a fair share of the beers from Bell’s: 25th Anniversary Ale, The Oracle, Oarsman, Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury Ale, Batch 9000, Hopslam, Cherry Stout, Sparkling Ale, Winter White, Christmas Ale, Third Coast, Oberon, Octoberfest, and Two Hearted. Fifteen, all told. If I was paid by the review, I’d have some extra quarters and dimes in my pocket. Hell, if I was paid at all, that would be a start. Well, besides in guff and smarm. I’m looking at you, McElfresh...

Batch 10,000 pours a rich, clear walnut with rosy red highlights; the head is tan and rather creamy. While the head does reduce to a bare covering over the course of a couple of minutes, a quick swirl of the glass brings another layer that exhibits equal staying power. A smoked malt aromas is the most distinct smell in the nose, although I can’t quite decide if it has a peaty undertone to it (later: yep, that’s peaty). There is also a touch of dark fruit and some hoppiness, along with lower levels of brown sugar, caramel, creaminess, and tobacco, but that smoke character is all up in it. As it warms, a slight juiciness emerges, but it is still under the master hand of the peat smoke aroma. Flavors start surprisingly dry and biscuity with a light residual caramel and herbal trace accompanied by smoked peat. The bitterness begins part way through the front before taking over in the middle, along with a dry mineral smoky and herbal medicinal flavor—the hop character is slightly reminiscent of Tröegs Nugget Nectar for the herbal hop bitterness, although the smoke makes this harder to pick out. Batch 10,000 has a lightly chalky and dry finish mixed with smoke, although there is a certain latent creaminess. There is also a noticeable alcohol tang that competes with the peat smoke and dry tobacco flavors of the finish for the last taste in the mouth. The carbonation bite in the final third accentuates the smoke flavors; other than that, however, the carbonation doesn’t do much besides contribute to the creaminess and slight silkiness of the mouthfeel—which is there, but hidden underneath the flavor smorgasbord. The mouthfeel is dry, but slightly chewy in addition to the silky viscous feel on the palate, and there is a fair amount of alcohol warmth, especially as it warms. Quite a complex beer; it will be interesting to see how Batch 10,000 continues to develop over time as the flavors blend and meld across the profile. Flavor-wise, there is a fair amount of Scottish Ale present via the peat smoke, but the dryness of the body places it elsewhere—or at least the dryness as perceived through the current alcohol, bitterness, and smoked components of the beer. As those shift and change, so to could the body. While at times a bit uneven, I am glad I tried Batch 10,000 young so that I have a baseline to compare subsequent bottles to over the next several years. After all, by then Bell’s will be on Batch 76,000 or something, and we’ll have all kinds of other delightful treats concocted by that master of chicanery, Larry Bell. I can hardly wait.

That’s our Larry! (Stolen from here)

From the bottle: “The last of the ‘Batch’ series. Thanks for all the consumers that got us this far.”

From the Bell’s website: “The last in our Batch series is being packaged today and tomorrow. While we are excited to free up some brewing space for other creative projects, the end of the Batch series marks a major milestone for us, and is a little bittersweet being the end of an era. Batch 10,000 reflects our homebrewing roots and was inspired by the last homebrew of the season. Our owner Larry Bell remembers going through his brewing supplies and making the last homebrew out of whatever malts and hops were left from his brewing months. With this being the motivation behind our last commemorative batch series beer, we combed through the catalogs of many malt and hop suppliers to source 100 different malts, grains, and other fermentables. This is balanced by the addition of 60 different hop varietals between the kettle and dry hopping. The resulting beer presents a deep, chocolate brown hue and offers roasted and caramel notes from the malts mixed with an assertive hop character. Feel free to drink it fresh, or vintage age it as you please. We lift our glass in appreciation to Bell’s drinkers who have helped us reach this moment in our brewery’s history. Cheers to you!”

ABV: 9.2%
Bottled: November 16, 2010

And what the hell is that creepy creature on the Bell’s 21 or older sign in page? The Evil Sith Lord of Bell’s? And no, I’m not talking about the picture above. Larry, you trying to kill my buzz? Stop that, dammit!


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